Hosts AGBU Ararat Nicosia FC stole a march in UEFA Futsal Cup preliminary round Group D as the mini-tournament began in Cyprus.
Ararat secured a 3-1 win against SD Croatia Berlin after the pool opener had been draw 3-3 between FC Levski Sofia West and FC Anzhi Tallinn. If Levski do not beat Berlin in the first of Thursday's two games in the section, Ararat would be able to secure a main round place with a game to spare by defeating Anzhi.
Levski seemed to be heading for victory when Daniel Nestorov completed his hat-trick on 33 minutes to put his side 3-2 up but Dmitri Kirilov, who had cancelled out the first goal for the Bulgarian side, repeated the trick with less than four minutes remaining. Davi Costa Menezes gave Ararat a 2-0 half-time lead in the second game and George Totlaze added a third just after the break before Damir Ćorić reduced the arrears for the German champions, setting up a tense finish.
Ararat coach Ara Bedrossian told UEFA.com: "This wasn't our best game. We can certainly play better than this. What's important were the three points and nothing more. I am happy with the win. It's what we wanted and we got it."
In the only other game on Wednesday, FC Kaghsi Yerevan overcame Group A hosts FK Nautara Kaunas 2-1 in Lithuania but Irish club Sporting Fingal SC had already confirmed top spot in the sole three-team section with victories against both of their rivals. MNK Orlić Sarajevo and Kremlin Bicêtre United have also secured qualification from the mini-tournaments already completed.
Two more groups will be decided on Thursday; Győri ETO FC meet Helvécia Futsal London in Group F with the Hungarian hosts ahead on goal difference, while three sides remain in the Group B running in Malta but leaders FS Ilves Tampere require only a point against hosts ZC Excess Futsal to deny both them and BK Glostrup Albertslund. Group E, the last pool to begin, opens in Skopje.
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