Surprises were conspicuous by their absence on the first day of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 this Tuesday. The host nation and Italy, two of the pre-tournament favourites, both got off to a winning starts, though in contrasting fashion, as they strove to cement early passage to the knockout stages. FIFA.com brings you all the action from an opening matchday which also saw wins for Paraguay and a historic first-ever FIFA Futsal World Cup victory for Cuba.
Expectation levels were high in Brasilia, where local supporters packed the Gimnasio Nilson Nelson to cheer on their heroes against Japan. Falcao and Co did not disappoint, cutting loose against the Japanese to record their fourth heaviest victory in competition history. Key to the success of coach Paulo de Oliveira's charges was their first-half control of possession and ruthless display of finishing after the break. The Auriverde now sit atop Group A thanks to their 34th win in the tournament. Japan, meanwhile, have yet to taste victory at a FIFA Futsal finals.
The other games
Over in Group B, Italy, runners-up at Chinese Taipei 2004 and last year's UEFA Futsal Championship, were made to work harder than expected to secure a narrow 1-0 win over Thailand in Rio de Janeiro. A solitary strike from the penalty spot from Grana was enough to seal the points for coach Alessandro Nuccorini's side, who are currently second in the group behind Paraguay, 5-0 victors over the USA.
The matchday's final game proved to be a historic one for Cuba, who took full advantage of the Solomon Islands' lack of experience to record their first-ever victory in this competition. The 10-2 success drew a line under a run of nine consecutive defeats, as well as setting a new record. Having never previously scored more than three goals at this level, the Cubans struck three times in the 27th minute against the islanders.
Alexandre Feller (ITA)
The Azzurri custodian prepared for his upcoming birthday in style with an outstanding performance in his side's hard-fought 1-0 win over Thailand. Set to turn 37 in just two days, the Arzignano Grifo player's reflexes, positioning and imposing presence were key to his team's opening Group B success, and all on his first ever appearance at the showpiece event.
21 - Falcao's goal tally in the history of the competition, after his 32nd minute strike against Japan. The fleet-footed Brazilian hit six goals at Guatemala 2000 and 13 at Chinese Taipei 2004, where he finished as top scorer.
What they said
"It was a tough game as we expected it to be, but we're not overly concerned. We played quite well but we've come here to learn. We're not thinking about the present, we're thinking about the future," Jose Pazos, Thailand coach, after his team's narrow defeat against Italy