Day 3 at the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 witnessed a show of strength from the European teams. Italy and Spain notched up comfortable wins, while Ukraine fought back heroically to record a narrow 5-4 success over brave Egypt. The United States, meanwhile, are right back in it after victory over Paraguay. FIFA.com takes a look back at today's exciting encounters.
Chinese Taipei v Spain: World champions take time to settle
World champions Spain ran up double figures against hosts Chinese Taipei, but the match was less of a stroll than the 10-0 scoreline suggests. The youngest team at the event threw up a defensive bulwark in front of the overwhelming favourites, showing Damien Knabben's men had learnt a lesson or two from their opening 12-0 reverse against Egypt. However, a 45-minute interruption for a power cut appeared to breathe new life into the Spanish effort. Despite an injury which briefly forced him to the sidelines, Javi Rodriguez helped himself to his first hat-trick and Spain's fifth-ever at the global event. Coach Javier Lozano was especially delighted that his men kept a clean sheet for the fourth match in a row, although he was distinctly unhappy about the early exchanges: "Obviously my players would have been more motivated against a higher class of opponent," he reasoned. The experienced boss has an almost father-son relationship with opposite number Knabben. "We first met in 1992 and have the greatest of respect for each other," Lozano commented at a joint press conference after the match. Observed the Chinese Taipei chief: "Naturally my options are limited. We went out there hoping to avoid a 20 or 25 goal defeat and we've hit our target because we played well."
Egypt v Ukraine: East Europeans hold nerve in nine-goal thriller
Egypt coach Mwafak Badry could not keep the anger from his face as he watched his men throw away a deserved 3-0 lead in the second period. Nonetheless he was at pains to point out the positives. "At the end of the day, and even though we've dropped three points, we have no reason to be dismayed after that first half display," the African boss commented, bowled over by the outstanding form of Wael Mawla Abdel and Hakim Abdel Mohamed. "They're like sons to me," Badry enthused. Ukraine somehow found a way back into the game when all looked lost, and squeezed out a 5-4 victory. "We missed a chance to take an early lead but we never gave up hope of winning," summarised delighted coach Gennadiy Lissenchuk. Ukraine go into their final group fixture against Chinese Taipei looking to run up as many goals as possible to tilt the mathematical scales in their favour, as apart from the hosts, all the Group A contestants have a theoretical chance of making the next round. On paper, Egypt have a far tougher third match against Spain, "but we'd be happy enough with a 1-0 win," Badry remarked with a wry smile.
Italy v Japan: Squadra on cruise control
Favourites Italy were in sparkling form as skipper Salvatore Zaffiro and his team-mates handed out a tactical masterclass to neutralise the attacking threat posed by Japan's principal offensive weapon Kenichiro Kogure. The Asian outfit rarely threatened as the Italians cruised to a 5-0 victory, drawing plaudits from coach Alessandro Nuccorini: "Our excellent defending was the key factor today," he declared. Japan coach Sapo took comfort from the manner of the defeat: "I would definitely be more upset if we hadn't given it our best shot throughout the game. Italy showed why they're one of the favourites for the trophy." The Italy boss returned the compliment: "Japan have come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years and they have no reason to be downhearted. They've lost twice but played extremely well in both matches."
USA v Paraguay: American discipline tops Latin flair
Both sides fielded replacement keepers in a bid for the decisive edge, and it was the United States who shaded this crunch match at the final whistle. Paraguay, blessed with superior technical ability but forced into a game of catch-up after going a goal down, had to throw caution to the wind and ultimately played into their opponents' hands. The northerners went two up but Adolfo Ruiz' team pulled one back and the flame of hope flickered briefly, only for Johnny Torres to race upfield and net the disciplined USA's decisive third. Winning coach Keith Tozer was delighted at his side's 3-1 success: "It's already proving an extraordinary world championship. We've seen stunning goals and expert defensive play. It's a fine advertisement for the sport globally." Despite the reverse, Paraguay's qualifying fate still lies in their own hands as they prepare to face the Italians in their final match.