Serbia are set for their FIFA Futsal World Cup debut after completing an impressive comeback aggregate victory in the play-offs to book their place in Thailand. Also in the finals will be the six teams who qualified for the last finals four years ago – two-time winners Spain, Italy, Russia, Portugal and, by the skin of their teeth, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.
The finals run from 1 to 18 November and so far the hosts and Oceania qualifiers the Solomon Islands are the only other sides to have confirmed their places in the expanded 24-team event.
Ukraine 1-4 Romania (agg: 5-4)
Ukraine were grateful for their 4-0 away first-leg win as they held off a superb Romania fightback. Dumitru Stoica struck just before the break and again 25 second after the interval. Mykhaylo Romanov scored within 71 seconds for Ukraine but Florin Ignat found the target and Stoica completed his hat-trick to set up a thrilling last 12 minutes. However, a second yellow card for Ignar in the 37th minute effectively ended Romania's hopes.
Serbia 6-1 Hungary (agg: 6-2)
Serbia made light of a 1-0 first-leg defeat to sweep into their first World Cup, capping the recent news that they had been appointed UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 hosts. Marko Pršić opened the scoring in the tenth minute and when he scored again before half-time it was 4-0, Slobodan Rajčević and Slobodan Janjić having found the target. Rajčević and Aleksandar Živanović increased the lead and although Tamás Lódi pulled one back, followed by Živanović's dismissal, Serbia's progress was assured.
Russia 2-2 Azerbaijan (agg: 5-4)
Like Ukraine, 2008 semi-finalists Russia were rewarded for a fine away result in what always looked a close tie. Nikolai Pereverzev scored on five minutes for Russia but Serjão drew Azerbaijan level on the day, and likewise Aleksandr Fukin's strike was cancelled out on the half-hour by Jadder Dantas. However, Azerbaijan could not get the third goal they needed to force extra time, Vitaliy Borisov agonisingly close with five minutes left.
Portugal 4-1 Belarus (agg: 11-2)
Already comfortably ahead at kick-off, Portugal's advantage increased on 15 minutes when Arnaldo Pereira scored their 1,000th goal from just 122 internationals. Belarus had been playing an impressive, compact pressure game but two goals in the 29th minute from Pedro Cary and Jorge Fernandes gave the scoreline a more comfortable look. Oleg Gorbenko pulled one back but Leitão had the final word.
Spain 8-0 Slovakia (agg: 12-0)
Spain easily maintained their run of qualifying for every World Cup, a record Argentina and Brazil – who took the title off José Venancio López's side in 2008 – hope to match in next week's South American competition. The 4,500 fans at the Palma Arena enjoyed the appearance of Miguelín, from Mallorca, and he completed the scoring. The star, though, was hat-trick man Sergio Lozano, continuing his good form this season, both in Spain's UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 triumph and for UEFA Futsal Cup finalists FC Barcelona.
Czech Republic 4-1 Slovenia (agg: 4-3)
Already 1-0 up from the first leg, Slovenia seemed set for their debut World Cup when Damir Pertič claimed an away goal but Roman Mareš swiftly found the target followed by Marek Kopecký. Still the home side needed two more goals, but Mareš, still the star player at 37, got one of them. With 61 seconds left another veteran of the 2008 finals in Brazil, Lukáš Rešetár, pounced on a defensive slip to secure the latest dramatic, and well deserved, qualification under Tomáš Neumann.
Italy 2-0 Norway (agg: 7-0)
Norway bowed out of their impressive debut World Cup campaign with honour, restricting the 2004 runners-up to goals early in each half from Saad Assis and Marcio Forte in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Pala San Giacomo.
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