A loss of concentration proved crucial in this clash of styles in Group C of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. The USA won 3-1 with Paraguayan coach Adolfo Ruiz admitting the lapse cost them dear: "The US third goal was the key to the match. We were on a roll, right back in the match at 2-1 when 30 seconds later they caught us cold. But the passage through is still in our hands."

The Americans were fanatically well-organised - their roll-on ice-hockey style substitutions again in evidence. They majored on rock-solid defence and team spirit. The Paraguayans, technically superior, knew they had to match the Americans fight to have a chance. Had they won, they would guarantee a place in the last eight for themselves and Italy.

Both teams changed their keepers from the first game - the USA played Brett Phillips, the man who had arrived late to Chinese Taipei after the birth of his fourth child. The South Americans relied on Marcos Miranda, one of nine players from the University side Autonoma de Asuncion.

Keith Tozer's team started positively - as he had promised they would. Todd Dusosky struck the corner of post and bar in the opening minutes before a dreadful mistake gave them the lead on seven minutes. Paraguayan Rene Villalba, scorer of two goals against Japan, was the culprit allowing Pat White to steal the ball and toe-poke past Miranda.

Paraguay controlled the play up to half-time but couldn't unlock the Americans. In fact the break came as a relief to Tozer's men who were running the clock down by the end. However Phillips had few real saves to make as the USA defence stood firm.

The States went 2-0 ahead after John Ball found Lee Tschantret in space and he fired left-footed into the bottom corner. This was the signal for increased Paraguayan pressure although the USA created chances on the break - Jamar Beasley firing wide when clean through.

Mostly though the South Americans laid siege to Phillips' goal, or the frame of it - both Rene Villalba and Alberto Benitez clattering the post.

It appeared we were all set for a grandstand finish when Rene Villalba provided the simplest of chances for his brother Carlos Alberto after his initial shot was blocked.

The goal went to their heads and a clever corner routine saw Ball clip over to an unmarked Johnny Torres to volley gleefully home. The most skilful US player had conjured up a sublime moment to outshine the Paraguayans.

Tozer knew how vital the three points were after their opening defeat against Italy: "It was an important match for both teams. It was very important to score first, then Brett Phillips made many great saves. We feel we can beat Japan, but I'll think about them tomorrow. Tonight I'm off for a steak dinner."