Brazil and Spain march on; Italy and Portugal play out first ever 0-0
The crowds on the first day of the second stage of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 were served up some high quality fare on Sunday. The main course came early with Falcao providing a feast of delicate touches, peerless technique and almost casual finishing. The other three courses saw hard-fought wins for Spain and Argentina and the first ever 0-0 draw in a FIFA Futsal Finals match.
Brazil v Ukraine: Favourites relaxed and ready
In the end the margin of victory was wide and in truth Brazil weren't seriously stretched. But to write off this game as one-sided would do an injustice to Gennadiy Lisenchuk's hungry side. The Ukrainians managed 22 shots and had 15 corners to the Auriverde's nine. They caught the Brazilians on the counter attack and had numerous one-on-ones but just couldn't beat the impressive Franklin. When the South Americans did create a chance they invariably took it consummately and Falcao was usually involved somewhere. The stand-out player of the tournament showed his confidence afterwards: "We know our ability and we have the mentality to handle the pressure and win the Championship. It's really important to us to win this tournament after we lost to Spain in Guatemala 2000."
Argentina v USA: Frantic end but deserved win
As anticipated this was a tough battle. The US missed Greg Howes, who had a lower back problem, but the Argentinians had just a little too much futsal know-how for them. The States' team were nearly buried in the opening minutes when the Albicelestes struck the post twice, but it was only a reprieve as Diego Giustozzi opened the scoring on five minutes - the first time the US had conceded the opening goal in Chinese Taipei. The South American champions doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Fernando Wilhelm scored from a 10m kick. In a frantic last five minutes John Ball took the keepers jersey and the States pulled back to 2-1 through a superb volley from Johnny Torres. It wasn't enough and the US face Ukraine on Monday with both sides knowing they will probably need to win or be eliminated.
Spain v Czech Republic: A question of patience
Spain started the first round with a gritty 2-0 win and it was the same story here. Spain had 35 shots - they certainly created enough chances - but had trouble breaking down the stiff Czech resistance. Both goals came from Spain's No.7 Javi Rodriguez. Petr Krayzel had a fine game in goal for the east Europeans, but his caoch Michal Striz was quick to praise Spain's rearguard after the game: "Spain's defence is even better than Brazil's. We were conscious we didn't want to go one down in the first half, but we need to create more chances on the counter attack." They will need to do just that against Portugal on Monday - another very tough nut to crack. The World Champions now top the group and can afford to be a little cautious against Italy in their next match.
Italy v Portugal: Duarte pleased with point
The first ever 0-0 draw in the history of the FIFA Futsal World Championships probably left Portugal's Orlando Duarte the happier coach. His side were under pressure in the first half, but grew stronger as the match went on. Duarte changed four players after half-time as he had been concerned about how some of his inexperienced players had been coping in their first World Championship - and this improved matters for him. Italian coach Alessandro Nuccorini will now have to face Spain on Monday knowing a defeat would put them in a perilous position in the group. He'll probably have to do without giant keeper Gianfranco Angelini who damaged ankle ligaments in the first half.