Araz Naxçivan and debutants City'us Târgu Mureş eased into the UEFA Futsal Cup elite round on Wednesday but there was a setback for former champions Action 21 Charleroi.
Last season's bronze-medallists Araz and Romanian hosts Târgu Mureş both won their first main round Group 3 games on Tuesday and second victories left them unassailable in the top two positions. Araz, who survived a scare against Sporting Fingal FC in their first game, fell behind early on to FK Nikars Riga but a Vitaliy Borisov hat-trick and two goals each for Anderson and Luciano earned a 7-2 win.
Both Araz and Târgu Mureş's places in the 12 October draw were secure when the home side defeated Fingal 8-2. Again the underdogs scored first but Târgu Mureş then struck five goals in nine minutes. Captain Cosmin Gherman ended with a hat-trick as the home side turned on the style after the break, leaving the 1,000-strong crowd chanting: "We're proud of you." They emulated the two teams who secured progress from Group 1 on Tuesday, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Slov-Matic Bratislava.
Charleroi were also hoping to move on to six points and go through in Group 6 but found themselves beaten 6-2 by Polish newcomers Akademia FC Pniewy, who had lost their opener to Serbian hosts KMF Ekonomac Kragujevac. That side strode into a three-point lead with a 7-1 win against France's Kremlin Bicêtre United as they made their constant pressure tell. On Friday, Charleroi will aim to save their campaign against Ekonomac while Pniewy play Kremlin Bicêtre.
The penultimate of the six sections to begin, Group 5 in Italy, kicked off with wins for hosts ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 and MNK Nacional Zagreb. European debutants Montesilvano overcame ASA Tel-Aviv 6-1 with a treble from Cleyton Baptistella, part of the Luparense C/5 side that reached last season's semi-finals.
Montesilvano coach Fulvio Colini told UEFA.com: "Congratulations to our opponents because I didn't expect them to be so good, especially early on they played very well, then our physical conditioning told." ASA's Yron Necher added: "We know it would be a very hard match, especially as futsal in Italy is professional, different from Israel. We tried to act as a team and we made a great effort in this match to have a good start."
Nacional saw off Finland's FS Ilves Tampere 7-1 after scoring four goals in the first seven minutes; Tihomir Novak ended with a hat-trick. Marinko Mavrović, the Nacional coach, said: "We started the game in the right fashion, scoring early goals. From that moment the match became easier and we came through wotuhout problems."
Ilves coach Petteri Pulkkinen added: "We risked a lot in the first half, because they were well positioned on the pitch. In the second half we improved, but the result was already written. Moreover, in my opinion, one of the most important things at this level is experience, and many Tampere players had not played any match in UEFA competition before today."
On Thursday, Nacional play Tel-Aviv and Montesilvano face Ilves. The same day Iberia Star Tbilisi need a point against FK EP Chrudim to join the Group 4 hosts in the elite round, otherwise a win for Győri ETO FC against FC Mapid Minsk could take them through, and Group 2 begins in Ukraine.
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