There were no surprises in the opening round of games in phase two of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008. The tournament hosts saw off Iran 1-0, while Italy strolled to a 4-0 defeat of Ukraine. Spain made a strong start to their Group F challenge by downing Russia 5-2 and Paraguay confirmed their status as live contenders by holding Argentina to a 3-3 draw.
The big game
*Paraguay 3-3 Argentina *
This South American duel more than lived up to its pre-match billing, with Paraguay, the revelations of the first phase, thwarting an Albiceleste side that struggled to hit form until the second half. Ruben Subeldia's men controlled proceedings in the first period, Fabio Alcaraz and Rene Villalba sending them into a 2-0 lead after only 14 minutes. Caught cold, the Argentinians managed to pull a goal back quickly through Sebastian Corazza.
Still trailing at the break, Sergio Lopez's charges made a strong start to the second half, drawing level thanks to Esteban Gonzalez and taking the lead for the first time just 53 seconds later when Matias Lucuix fired home. Argentinian joy was short-lived, however, Alcaraz striking a second time just before the final whistle to secure a point for the Paraguayans.
The other games
Holders Spain have improved with each game in Brazil but found Russia a tough proposition on Saturday. Trailing 2-1 with ten minutes remaining, the Iberians managed to click up a gear, however, with Torras, Daniel, Javi Rodriguez and Luis Amada rattling in four late goals to kill off the Russians.
Brazil got off to a winning start in Group E as they edged out Asian champions Iran 1-0. Despite the narrow scoreline, it was one-way traffic throughout, as the statistics reveal. Enjoying 65 per cent of possession, the Auriverde rained in 49 shots to Iran's 13 but all they had to show for their domination was Schumacher's solitary goal just two minutes into the contest.
Italy took time get going against Ukraine, controlling the first half without ever putting their opponents under sustained pressure. Italian superiority soon showed after the restart, though, with Patrick Nora putting them ahead and Marcio Forte adding another five minutes later. The men in blue continued to surge forward in search of more goals, which duly came when Nora and Forte doubled their tallies for the day, leaving the eastern Europeans in desperate need of a win when they take on Iran on Sunday.
Patrick Nora (ITA)
A scorer in his side's opening match against USA, the Italian was back on target against Ukraine today, slotting past goalkeeper Vladyslav Lysenko twice to set the Azzurri on the way to victory.
The stat 27 - The number of shots Brazil had on goal in their match against Iran. The Seleçao have had more strikes on target than any other team in the competition and have now taken their tournament total to 154, an average of 30.8 per game.
What they said
"Brazil are the best team in the world. It is a great honour to be playing here in Rio, and it's a privilege to have only conceded one goal against Brazil. Iran played an excellent match and we even received praise from Falcao, the best player in the world," Iran coach, Hossein Shams.
All the results
Paraguay 3-3 Argentina
Spain 5-2 Russia
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil 1-0 Iran
Ukraine 0-4 Italy