Italy and Brazil on cruise control; Spain and Argentina show nerves of steel
Brazil and European champions Italy eased through their final second round matches, but Argentina and world champions Spain were pushed to the limit before reaching the last four of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. FIFA.com reviews the final matchday in groups E and F.
Brazil 8-5 USA: Thrills galore in high-scoring encounter
Brazil had vowed they would play to the gallery against the USA in their final group match, and coach Ferretti's men duly obliged with the kind of display justifying their status as title favourites; although it was clear the men in yellow were keeping plenty in reserve. The highest-scoring match of the tournament saw Falcao and company generally fall back on their exceptional technical abilities and let the ball do the work, enough on the day for an 8-5 victory over the always-eager USA. Brazil dropped down at least two gears in the second half and the Americans struck four times within seven minutes towards the close, but Indio replied with his eighth and ninth goals of the event to give the scoreline a more realistic look. Brazil finish top of Group F and now meet Spain at the semi-final stage in a re-run of the Guatemala 2000 final.
Ukraine 0-0 Argentina: South Americans claim vital point
Both teams knew exactly what they had to do in advance: Ukraine required a win to make the semi-finals but a draw was enough for Argentina. Three days after the first goalless encounter in Championship history, the South Americans duly claimed the point they needed from the second-ever 0-0 draw to finish runners-up in Group F. Argentina dominated the first half of a rugged physical encounter but Ukraine fought back after the interval without ever creating much in the way of clear-cut chances. The game remained poised on a knife-edge right until the end but the East Europeans ultimately lacked the courage of their convictions, hampered as they had been throughout the tournament by danger man Igor Moskvychov's less than 100 percent fitness. Argentina now meet Italy in the semi-finals and have already gone further than ever before in their futsal history.
Spain 3-1 Portugal: Keeper Amado sees world champions into last four
Under-pressure Spain went into the showdown with Iberian neighbours Portugal needing a victory to ensure their continued presence at the tournament. But the Spanish proved equal to the task, claiming a 3-1 win mainly thanks to a blistering first half display. The rampaging Portuguese besieged the Spanish goal in the second period and created a raft of openings, but man of the match Luis Amado pulled off a string of world-class saves and rode his luck when the post came to his rescue. Spain protected their lead to the end and finish second in Group F to set up a last four meeting with Brazil.
Czech Republic 0-3 Italy: European champions ease to group triumph
Both sides were seeking to finish the second phase with a flourish, the Czechs looking to salvage some wounded pride and the Italians aiming to top the group. At the end of the day the South Europeans turned in a classy display to seal a 3-0 success. The Czechs gave a creditable performance but had no answer to the Italians' superior discipline. Coach Alessandro Nuccorini's men struck a quick-fire double in the first half and never looked back after establishing the two-goal cushion. The Italians now meet Argentina in the semi-finals, a match-up with a dash of piquancy as a number of opposing players appear together in the Italian league.