Spain took a major step towards qualifying for the second round of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 on Sunday after completing a comfortable 4-0 victory over Group D rivals Czech Republic. In the same section, Iran got the better of Libya in a 4-2 success, while in Group C Egypt overcame China PR 6-2 and Argentina were held to a 2-2 draw by Ukraine.
The marquis match in Group C proved to be a tense and exciting affair, with both goalkeepers needing to stay alert from start to finish. Argentina must have thought they were on their way to victory after opening the scoring through Leandro Planas in the 32nd minute, but Ukraine reacted in style, Dmytro Ivanov collecting an Oleksandr Khursov pass to equalise after 38 minutes before Sergyi Cheporniuk lobbed the Europeans ahead a minute later. The match was still far from finished, however, and with just 15 seconds on the clock, Argentinian goalkeeper Santiago Elias' good work opened the way for Diego Giustozzi to fire a last-gasp leveller. It was a fitting end to a game that lived up to all its promises.
The other games
Also in Group C, China PR ended up counting the cost of a number of missed chances. The Pharaohs were a model of efficiency, by contrast, hitting three goals from their 11 shots in the first-half. Beaten in their previous two outings, Egypt carried on where they left off at the break to run out 6-2 winners and put themselves right back into the qualification mix. The Chinese are now staring at elimination.
Spain continue to go from strength to strength in Group D. Following less than convincing results in their first two matches, the world champions turned on the style to make light work of a Czech team that offered little in the first half. The only surprise was that the scoreline read just 1-0 to the Iberians, but they stepped up a gear after the restart and finished the job courtesy of goals from Marcelo in 21st and 23rd minutes, either side of a 22nd-minute Daniel strike.
The other match in Group D went Iran's way, with the Asian champions profiting from a lively Mohammad Hashemzadeh performance to prevail 4-2 against their African counterparts. The win gives Iran serious hopes of progress.
Santiago Elias (ARG)
Brought on during the second half, the Argentinian goalkeeper had a major impact on his team's fortunes. In addition to defending his goal with aplomb, he provided the crucial assist that allowed the South Americans to draw level with Ukraine in the dying seconds.
What they said
"We didn't have luck on our side in our two previous outings but in this game we were luckier. Our main challenge is to reduce the huge amount of goals we miss." Moafak El Sayed, Egypt coach