Five goals in the first ten minutes were the key as Russia won 5-1 in Belarus to take a huge lead after the first leg of their FIFA Futsal World Cup play-off.
In front of a capacity crowd of nearly 2,000 in Minsk, the home fans watched Russia take the lead within 58 seconds when Konstantin Maevski converted a penalty after he was brought down by Belarus captain Vladimir Levus. By the midway point in the first half it was 5-0 and although the only subsequent goal came from Sergei Kuznetsov of Belarus, they will need to upset the odds on 13 April in Schelkovo to reach the finals later this year in Brazil.
Once Maevski had broken the deadlock, it took only 29 seconds for the lead to double when a Russia corner from the left was turned into his own net by Dmitri Eliseev and although visiting goalkeeper Pavel Stepanov was forced to keep out a shot from Aliaksandr Kamarou after a strong counterattack, Vladislav Shayakhmetov made it 3-0 on eight minutes from an acute angle. Marat Azizov and Pula swiftly increased the Russian lead, and Stepanov then produced a stunning double save from Aleksandr Savintsev and Aliaksandr Kamarou.
By then Belarus had replaced goalkeeper Viachaslau Niahatsin with Pavel Shvaiba, who had briefly entered play before to face the early penalty, and they kept out Russia from here and pulled one back ten minutes from the end when Aliaksei Yuraha hit the post and Kuznetsov turned in the rebound. The other five ties begin later this week, with holders Spain playing Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine facing Hungary on Tuesday and the following night seeing the Czech Republic up against Romania, Portugal visiting Slovenia and Italy meeting Croatia.
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