The Republic of Ireland made a respectable start in their first competitive senior international as they lost 2-0 to Cyprus on the opening day of the 2010 UEFA European Futsal Championship preliminary round.
Staging Group A in Dublin, Ireland held out until one minute before the break when Kostas Polyviou put Cyprus ahead. They conceded again to Lambros Vassiliou midway through the second half, though the home side also had their chances. In the other encounter, Kazakhstan, who scored 23 goals in winning three games in this round in 2007, needed three without reply after the break to gain a 5-2 victory against an England side who equalised twice in the first half and are still searching for a first-ever competitive point. They will continue that quest against Ireland on Friday when Kazakhstan face Cyprus, a side they defeated in 2007 qualifying and again in the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
Latvia in form
Latvia, who only missed out at this stage in 2007 with a loss to eventual final tournament qualifiers Romania, have early control of Group B in Varna after they defeated competition debutants Estonia 5-0. Hosts Bulgaria, who face Estonia on Friday, drew 2-2 with Armenia.
In Group D in Ramat Gan, hosts Israel drew 1-1 with Turkey after Avi Kalif's goal early in the second half was cancelled out with three minutes left by Cihan Özkan, while Jarno Mattila scored twice as Finland defeated competition newcomers Montenegro 4-2. Finland could be through on Friday if they go one better than their 5-5 draw with Turkey two years ago and Israel do not beat Montenegro. Greece and Georgia defeated Albania and Group B hosts Malta 3-0 and 3-1 respectively and the top two play on Friday. The four group winners and two best runners-up progress to the qualifying round from 19-22 March; for full draw details click here.
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