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Andorra and Norway lead the way

Andorra and Norway secured second wins in preliminary round Group F on Friday while four other sections began with France, Bulgaria and Georgia among those in the goals.

Boycho Marev celebrates one of his three goals for Bulgaria against Lithuania
Boycho Marev celebrates one of his three goals for Bulgaria against Lithuania ©Domenic Aquilina

Andorra and Norway set up a final-day decider after the second matches in UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 preliminary round Group F, while four other sections began with France, Bulgaria and Georgia among those in the goals.

In Thursday's opener Andorra came from behind to beat section hosts the Republic of Ireland 2-1 and today overcame Israel 4-1 in similar fashion, trailing at the break, equalising through Jonathan Perez on 25 minutes and then scoring three goals in the closing stages including David Ferriz's clinched from inside his own box.

Andorra coach Xavier de la Rosa told UEFA.com: "[Israel] were very well organised in defence and although we knew we were second best, we didn't give up and managed to come back and win it, the key was that we had faith and enthusiasm."

However, Andorra trail debutants Norway on goal difference after the team which overcame Israel 7-3 on their bow performed excellently again in defeating Ireland 5-0. Norway coach Esten Oddmund Saether said: "I'm very pleased with the result because we are bringing something new to the world of futsal, because we played and won with our own style." Andorra must beat Norway on Sunday to pip their rivals to a spot in qualifying round Group 4 in Romania next month.

The goals flowed as Group D began in Malta. Bulgaria fell two down to Lithuania in the opening three minutes but went on to win 6-3, the outstanding Boycho Marev completing a hat-trick. "We started on a very bad note, but in the end we showed that we were the superior team overall and fully deserved our win," Bulgaria coach Venelin Ivanov said.

France outdid Malta, beating the hosts 6-1, Alexandre Texeira and David Le Boette each scoring twice. "I am happy with the performance of my team," France coach Pierre Jacky said. "It is of the utmost importance to win the first match." Malta striker Clint Cope added: "It was a very difficult match against more experienced opponents. You miss a chance and you instantly get punished."

Switzerland looked like their competitive senior futsal bow in Group A would be a miserable one when they fell four down to a had-working and able Moldova team inspired by Sergiu Tacot, who scored and made two more, but in the last eight minutes David Meyer's side rallied and pulled it back to 4-3.

Moldova coach Vladimir Vusatii said: "In the first half we were better but in the second half Switzerland showed their physical strength." Meyer added: "Even though we lost, I'm happy with the performance of my players. The problem is this is a new experience for us."

Hosts Turkey, who face Switzerland on Saturday, lead the group following an impressive 5-1 defeat of Montenegro, delighting the Izmir crowd with four goals in three second-half minutes including two by the excellent Cihan Özcan.

It proved an exciting day in Group B in Iceland, with the hosts – like Norway and Switzerland – making an impressive debut, taking an experienced Latvia team all the way before succumbing 5-4, Dmitrijs Jakovlevs winning it with five minutes left. Greece and Armenia drew 2-2.

Like the other sections beginning today, plus Group E which started on Thursday, Group C will continue on Saturday and on top after Matchday 1 are Georgia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Georgia overwhelmed Estonia 8-0 thanks to hat-tricks from David Bobokhidze and Archil Sebiskveradze.

Hosts FYROM had it tougher, edging England 3-1 having been clinging on before Thomas Obasi was sent off late on and Darko Rangotov clinched it. FYROM coach Vasil Skenderovski said: "We knew that this would be a very difficult match. The first match is always the hardest, you need to break the ice. The most important thing is that we got the three points."

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