Italy down holders Spain; Brazil through to semis
After Act II Scene II of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004, Italy and Brazil are basking in the glow of success. Having overcome titleholders Spain, the Squadra Azzurra are now masters of their own destiny. As for the Auriverde, their win this evening over Argentina means Feretti's men are already through to the last four.
Brazil 2-1 Argentina: Seleçao take the spoils
In a fairly evenly balanced and cagey encounter, it was Brazil who prevailed over arch rivals Argentina. As was expected, the Albiceleste rearguard action was generally able to snuff out the Brazilian offensive sparkle, even if it was powerless to prevent a pair of strikes from Simi early on, both of which took deflections.
While Argentina did create openings of their own, they continually foundered against the Seleçao's last line of defence, Franklin, who has been imperious since the start of this FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. Right at the death, he crucially came to the rescue one last time, thereby ensuring that Brazil reach the last four with a game to spare. The Brazil No. 1 has earned many admirers at the tournament, not least Argentina's coach Fernando Larrañaga: "This Brazil side is a lot stronger than in our last game against them."
Ukraine 3-1 USA: Europeans bounce back to k.o. the States
Ukraine are a model of inconsistency. Awful one game, excellent the next, they brought their A game with them against the United States here this evening. Courtesy of this win, they remain in with a chance of qualifying, even if the odds are stacked against them overcoming Argentina on Wednesday.
In a first half littered with mistakes, it was not until the final minute that both teams found the back of the net to go in at the break on level pegging (1-1). In the second half, Gennadiy Lisenchuk's protégés gained the upper hand by dint of some rock-solid defending and a neat line in counter-attacking. Against the Albiceleste, it will be a case of double or quits, as who ever wins it will qualify.
Spain 2 Italy 3: Azzurri delight
By defeating Spain in Group E, Italy got right back on track and look well set to qualify for the semi-finals. Now a point ahead of their opponents on the night, Nuccorini's charges know that a win against the Czech Republic, who are already eliminated, would see them through to the semi-finals.
Having fallen behind in the very first minute, the Azzurri succeeded in turning the match in its head to go in at the break 3-1 up. With a helping hand from Lady Luck, they then managed to cling onto their lead, despite conceding a goal with ten minutes remaining. Courtesy of this win over the reigning world champions, the Squadra Azzurra have proved beyond all doubt that they are serious contenders for the title.
Czech Republic 4-8 Portugal: Lusitanians take their time
It may have taken the Iberians half a match to get into their stride, but they ended it well placed to go through to the final four, as a draw with Spain will be enough to continue their Chinese Taipei adventure.
Initially surprised by the standard of this useful Czech team, Portugal gave a poor account of themselves in the first half, especially in defence (3-3 at the break). No doubt admonished by their coach during the interval, the Portuguese returned to the pitch with a completely different attitude. Netting five more goals for one conceded, they were easily the better team and ran out comfortable 8-3 winners to end Czech hopes of qualification.