Matchday 9 review: Paraguay, Japan and Serbia complete last-16 line-up
Paraguay, Japan and Serbia complete Round of 16 line-up
No Concacaf representatives are in the knockout phase
Argentina and Spain go through with perfect records
Group E Japan 1-2 Paraguay, Vilnius Spain 4-1 Angola, Klaipeda
Group F IR Iran 1-2 Argentina, Vilnius USA 0-7 Serbia, Klaipeda
Brotherly brilliance makes the difference Paraguay’s Salas brothers, Javier Adolfo and Juan, demonstrated an almost telepathic understanding during their decisive group match against Japan. Younger brother Javier Adolfo played a delightful pass in a classic counter-attack for Juan to slot coolly past the goalkeeper. The man who provided the assist showed a similarly impressive awareness in the build-up to his team’s first goal. Although both sides are continuing their Lithuanian adventure, they face formidable tasks in the Round of 16, where Japan take on Brazil and Paraguay play Argentina. Futsal finesse from Fernandez Angola needed to perform a minor miracle and defeat the 2000 and 2004 champions emphatically to have any chance of reaching the knockout phase, while Spain's spot in the Round of 16 was already assured. The Europeans put in a brilliant performance, particularly in the second half, that made the game look easy. Adolfo Fernandez netted a hat-trick to bring his tally for the tournament to four goals and enter the race for the adidas Golden Shoe. Spain now face Czech Republic in the Round of 16, while Angola’s FIFA Futsal World Cup™ debut has come to an end without them earning a single point.
Mareco of Paraguay celebrates with Juan Salas
VILNIUS, LITHUANIA - SEPTEMBER 20: Julio Mareco of Paraguay celebrates with Juan Salas after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 group E match between Japan and Paraguay at Vilnius Arena on September 20, 2021 in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Photo by Alex Caparros - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Rejala of Paraguay is challenged by Henmi of Japan
VILNIUS, LITHUANIA - SEPTEMBER 20: Richard Rejala of Paraguay is challenged by Katsutoshi Henmi of Japan during the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 group E match between Japan and Paraguay at Vilnius Arena on September 20, 2021 in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Photo by Alex Caparros - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
A taste of things to come The crowds inside the Vilnius Arena witnessed a special moment in futsal history: a remarkable solo effort from IR Iran captain Ali Hassan Zadeh, culminating in one of the tournament’s most spectacular goals. Argentina also made onlookers sit up and take notice with their disciplined build-up play. It was these rapid yet precise combinations that enabled them to score twice past the exceptional Sepehr Mohammadi in the Iranian goal. The South Americans came away from Group F, dubbed the 'Group of Death', with the full nine points. Next Argentina will meet Paraguay for a CONMEBOL duel in the Round of 16, while IR Iran face an all-Asian tie against Uzbekistan. Differing fortunes for shot-stoppers While Miodrag Aksentijevic enjoyed an almost entirely unremarkable evening that only forced him into action once, USA goalkeeper Diego Moretti was constantly involved in the game, repelling an incredible 17 efforts on target and taking a powerful shot to the face in the second half. Serbia can now celebrate reaching the Round of 16 just as they did on their Futsal World Cup debut at Thailand 2012. In a match where only a win was enough for either Serbia or USA to progress, it was the Serbs’ superior individual class that gave them the decisive edge. The Stars & Stripes now head home from their first Futsal World Cup since 2008 without registering a point, while Serbia will battle fellow Europeans Portugal for the opportunity to reach their first quarter-final.
“Our determination was our strength today. We played an intense game, which is exactly what we needed to do. This match has given us plenty of confidence. The team played and defended better. That was the only result that would have gotten us anywhere. The team reacted well. Today we reached our peak at a World Cup and deservedly qualified for the next round.” Carlos Chilavert, Paraguay coach