Russia marched on to the second round at Brazil 2008 this afternoon with a thumping and thoroughly deserved 9-1 victory over Japan in Maracanazhino.
The Asian hopefuls had begun the day knowing that victory would take them through at the Russians' expense, but they now head for home in the knowledge that they were beaten by a clearly superior side. Russia, fresh from that record-breaking 31-2 win over the Solomon Islands, were outstanding at times, confirming their status as genuine title contenders with a display of power and panache.
At the heart of much of their best play was the brilliant Dmitry Prudnikov, who gave notice of his intentions by firing home the first goal at the end of a slick one-touch move. Soon after, Damir Khamadiev added the second from a corner kick, and as Japan pushed forward, Russia punished them ruthlessly on the counter-attack, Khamadiev making it 3-0 after just 10 minutes.
The pace dropped discernibly for the remainder of the first half as Russia coasted into a six-goal lead but it soon picked up after the re-start, with Khamadiev completing his hat-trick only 23 seconds into the second half.
Japan did claim a consolation through Yuki Kanayama, and while that was warmly received by the crowd, the local fans also made a point of standing to acclaim a Russian team who had provided a veritable futsal masterclass.