An amazing match played in front of passionate fans finished 5-4 to Paraguay in the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. It may not have been the most technical of games but this was futsal with passion, verve and no end of drama.
The win puts Paraguay level with Italy at the top of Group C but coach Adolfo Ruiz is not getting carried away: "Of course it's good to win our first game, but it's not fundamental. The victory will, however give all the team a huge confidence boost as we looked dead and buried at one stage."
The match was played in a passionate atmosphere with the two set of supporters sitting next to each other. The Japanese, bedecked in their national teams blue shirts, unfurled an enormous 'Ultra Nippon' flag and their drummer beat a rhythm for the team to play to.
The Paraguayan fans brought red and yellow pom-poms and attempted to drown out the percussion. It set the stage for a game which could have gome either way. The first half showed the importance of clinical finishing. Paraguay had plenty of possession, created chances - especially down the left - but only took two of them. Japan missed a 10m kick in the last minute but three times they were ruthless in front of goal.
Japan broke the deadlock on seven minutes through Kenichiro Kogure, the man who finished top scorer with eight goals in 2004 AFC Futsal Championship Macao. The Paraguayan keeper Christhian Acuna seemed to have the danger covered but the ball squirmed under his body for an easy finish.
Villalba takes control
Paraguay equalised thanks to a superb dribble and strike from Rene Villalba. Cutting in from the left he slammed the ball home right-footed. The Albirrojos seemed to be in control of the game at this stage, the promptings of Walter Villalba and their greater physical power looking as if it could be decisive.
But on 13 minutes they committed their fifth foul and this seemed to deflate the South Americans. Japan grew in confidence and they took a two goal advantage after a Yusuke Komiyama 10m kick and a cracker from Rikarudo Higa who danced down the right past the Paraguayan captain Carlos Chilavert and blasted in off the underside of the bar.
Paraguay went into the half-time break a little happier after Jose Rotella's shot hit the inside of the post leaving Walter Villalba with a tap-in. After the break the South Americans pushed forward, Japan leaving fans favourite Kogure up front to do battle royal with Chilavert.
But the Japanese still threatened on the break, Daisuke Ono's turn and shot cracking against the angle of post and bar. Withdrawing further, Japan took off Kogure and challenged the Paraguayans to break them down. A fatal mistake.
Jose Rotella sneaked his effort inside the far post to draw level, but Kogure returned to score a memorable goal. Twisting a turning in the area he found half-a-yard of space and buried the ball in the corner. With just four minutes left it seemed like Japan would start with a win to cheer their raucous fans, but Walter Villalba again proved their downfall. Controlling an Emmanuel Ayala pass, he slotted under Hisamitsu Kawahara. Worse was to follow as Oscar Velazquez stormed down the right and clattered the ball into the roof of the net. The red and yellow pom-poms finally silenced the drum.