Spain on track
Only holders Spain and 2004 runners-up Italy played on the opening two days, the champions drawing 3-3 with Iran and the Azzurri defeating Thailand 1-0. But Spain ensured a maximum haul from their second game in Rio de Janeiro as they beat Libya 3-0 thanks to goals by Javi Rodríguez, Álvaro and Daniel. Also in Group D, the Czech Republic kicked off with a hard-fought 4-1 win against Uruguay. Roman Mareš's eighth-minute goal as cancelled out before the break by Seba, but Tomáš Sluka and Zdeněk Sláma restored control for Tomáš Neumann's side and David Filinger converted a late double penalty to boost confidence ahead of their meeting with Spain on Sunday.
In the same city, Italy overcame the United States 6-1 to move clear in Group B. Andy Rosenband put the US ahead on five minutes but Sandro Zanetti quickly equalised and in the last eight minutes Patrick Nora edged Italy in front, Nando Grana made the most of a double penalty, as did Saad Assis after Edgar Bertoni had found the target. Portugal, who face Italy on Saturday, made a winning start after Arnaldo struck two minutes from time to beat Paraguay 3-2. Pedro Costa and Arnaldo had scored early in each half only for José Rotella and René Villalba to swiftly level.
Russia strike ten
Over in Brasilia, Russia and Ukraine both picked up three points ahead of tough weekend fixtures. Russia, who take on the hosts in Group A on Saturday, defeated Cuba 10-5. Yosniel Mesa's own goal, Vladislav Shayakhmetov, Konstantin Maevski, Dmitri Prudnikov and Cirilo put Russia 5-0 up in the first nine minutes. Further strikes from Damir Khamadiev, Sirilo, Shayakhmetov and two late Pula efforts ensured a Mesa hat-trick at the right end was in vain. Brazil, having already beaten Japan 12-1, overcame the Solomon Islands 21-0.
Ukraine start well
Ukraine, taking on 2004 semi-finalists Argentina on Sunday, saw off Guatemala 6-2. Valeriy Zamyatin claimed the only goal of the first half and although Estuardo de León equalised, Serhiy Cheporniuk restored Ukraine's advantage, Yevgen Rogachov struck twice in quick succession and after Erick Acevedo reduced arrears, Mykhaylo Romanov and Valeriy Legchanov confirmed the win. Argentina lead Group C having beaten China 5-0 and Egypt 4-2.
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