FK Era Pack Chrudim are all but through to November's UEFA Futsal Cup Elite round for the third year running with a game to spare in Main round Group 2 but the race to join them is tight.
Staging the earliest of the six mini-tournaments running this week, Czech champions Chrudim opened on Monday with a 10-1 defeat of FK Nikars Riga. Cacau, who reached the four-team finals for the last two years with Kairat Almaty, opened his European account for Chrudim in the third minute and was one of a quartet of players to score twice along with Radek Mikan, Lukáš Rešetár and Max. Earlier Polish side Hurtap Łęczyca had won their maiden European fixture 9-1 against FK Nautara Kaunus, who like Nikars progressed from the Preliminary round. Maxym Moskalyuk, Igor Sobalczyk and Artem Kovalyov all scored two.
Chrudim virtually booked their progress into the 13 October Elite round draw on Tuesday by beating Nautara 8-1, aided by a Mikan hat-trick. Nikars moved into second place on head-to-head record with a dramatic 4-3 defeat of Łęczyca, who had led through Serhiy Tkachenko on two minutes. Dmitrijs Zolotarjovs equalised 22 seconds after the break and Sergejs Zolotuhins edged Nikars ahead. Daniel Krawczyk immediately equalised but Aleksejs Baranovs made it 3-2 to Nikars with a double penalty. He then missed one, as did Sobalczyk, but although Krawczyk levelled again, Baranovs converted a decisive double penalty with two minutes left.
Chrudim can only be knocked out on Thursday if they lose by 18 goals to Łęczyca and Nikars beat Nautara, who similarly have only a mathematical chance of pitting the Polish and Latvian champions to second place. Before those concluding games, Group 3 opens in Belgium on Wednesday with the hosts – 2004/05 champions Action 21 Charleroi – meeting Athina '90 of Greece after Sweden's Skövde AIK face Finnish titleholders Golden Futsal Team. The other four pools run from Thursday until Sunday, click here for full fixtures and results.
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