Uzbekistan’s win and Honduras’ 5-1 thumping by Germany, saw the Central Asian side catapult from bottom to second place in Group F.
Fiji, who won fans worldwide with their 3-0 win over Honduras, needed just a point to advance and looked set to progress after a barren first half but goalkeeper Miswani Nairube weakly allowed a header from Eldor Shomurodov slip through his hands to put the Uzbeks 1-0 up.
Zabikhillo Urinboev shot under Nairube a minute later for the second and Mirjamol Kosimov fired across goal into the bottom corner in stoppage-time for the third.
“It was most probably unexpected by a lot of people that we would have this opportunity going into the last game. We’ve most probably over achieved,” Fiji coach Frank Farina told reporters.
“I truly believed that the team who scored first would go on. I’m disappointed with the manner that the (first) goal was conceded but we are really proud of how the boys have performed.”
In the group’s other match, Germany opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the second minute and though Honduras equalised in the 19th, they never really threatened Germany’s 100 per cent record.
The Uzbeks finished tied on three points with Honduras and Fiji but advanced due to a superior goal difference and will now play Austria in the last 16.
In Christchurch, Brazil were made to wait an hour by North Korea but the Latin Americans won 3-0 to sail into the last 16 where they will meet Uruguay.
Goals from Taiwo Awoniyi in each half helped Nigeria to a 2-0 win over Hungary and set up a last-16 clash with Germany.
The Hungarians still went through as one of the best third-placed teams and will take on Serbia in the knock-out phase.
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ed Osmond)