Holders Spain and hosts Brazil, the pre-tournament favourites at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008, are both through to the semi-finals with a game to spare after defeating Argentina and Italy respectively. The Spanish and Brazilians made it two wins out of two in the second round and are now guaranteed either first or second place in their groups. The day's other two games both finished 5-4, Russia edging out Paraguay and Iran overcoming Ukraine.
The big game
Russia 5-4 Paraguay*
Goals: Pula 8, 32, 35, Shayakhmetov 19, 40 (Russia);
Rotello 20, Alcaraz 23, 32, 39 (Paraguay*)
This high-quality encounter was not for the faint-hearted, with a heart-stopping climax to round it all off. With just 109 seconds to go, Alcaraz sent the Paraguay camp into raptures with the goal to tie the game at 4-4. But South American joy was short-lived as Shayakhmetov netted Russia’s dramatic winner in the dying seconds. Pula stole the show for the eastern Europeans with three goals, a feat emulated by Alcaraz for Paraguay.
The other games
Spain became the first team through to the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Argentina, meaning the holders can finish no lower than second in Group F. Argentina now face a must-win encounter with Russia on Tuesday if they are to keep alive their hopes of the last four.
Hosts Brazil maintained their perfect record with a sixth victory in six matches, and are also safely through to the semis. The Auriverde and 2004 runners-up Italy served up thrilling end-to-end entertainment from the start, but both keepers were in scintillating form and pulled off a string of breathtaking saves. The hosts proved the stronger and won 3-0, sealing their berth in the last four thanks to Iran’s victory over Ukraine in the second Group E fixture.
The Asian champions beat the eastern Europeans 5-4 in another thriller to preserve their chance of a semi-final berth. Mohammad Taheri and Vahid Shamsaee both struck twice for the impressive Iranians.
The Russian ace struck three goals in his side’s 5-4 triumph and also provided the assist for the dramatic last-gasp winner. The man with the number seven jersey is now the leading scorer at the tournament on 15 goals.
The stat 5 – The number of consecutive matches in which FIFA Futsal World Cup hosts Brazil have kept a clean sheet, a new all-time record for the event. The only goal the hosts have conceded so far came in their opening match against Japan when Nobuya Osodo hit the target – scant consolation perhaps, as the Japanese lost 12-1.
What they said
"This defeat doesn’t make qualifying for the semi-finals any more complicated, as a draw would hardly have made any difference. We simply have to beat Russia in our next match. Despite the fact we lost, I’m very pleased with my team’s performance," Sergio Lopez, Argentina coach
Italy 0-3 Brazil
Ukraine 4-5 Iran
Spain 2-1 Argentina
Russia 5-4 Paraguay