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Holders Spain make steady start

A 2-0 win against Ukraine helped the Spanish begin with a win while Italy defeated the United States.

Spain made a perfect start to the defence of their FIFA Futsal World Championship title with a 2-0 victory against European rivals Ukraine while Italy also began the tournament with a win.

Early goals
The Spanish, who lifted the crown four years ago in Guatemala, have high hopes of more success at the tournament's fifth edition, being staged in Chinese Taipei. Javier Lozano’s side were always on top in today’s Group A fixture in Taipei City and took a deserved lead in the fifth minute through Marcelo before Andreu made it 2-0 four minutes later.

Heavy defeat
Hosts Chinese Taipei are next in line for Spain on Tuesday. Lozano could rest some of his key performers after Chinese Taipei, coached by Belgian trainer Damien Knabben, went down 12-0 in today’s opening game of the 2004 finals against Group A’s other team Egypt. The African side will look to build on their success when they meet Ukraine on the same day.

Italian recovery
Meanwhile, European champions Italy came from behind to run out 6-3 winners against the United States in their Group C opener in Tao Yuan County. Johnny Torres gave the US a surprise eleventh-minute lead but Adriano Foglia and Edgar Bertoni ensured Alessandro Nuccorini’s men had the half-time edge. Both Foglia and Bertoni were to get on the scoresheet again in the second half, which also featured goals from Grana and Pellegrini.

Japan await
The Italians will play Japan in their second game on Tuesday. In today’s other Group C game, the Japanese lost a thrilling encounter at the hands of Paraguay by the odd goal in nine. The South American side were trailing 4-3 before two strikes in the last three minutes gave them a 5-4 success to take into their next fixture against the US.

Monday matches
The two remaining first-round groups get under way on Monday. In Group B, the emerging Czech Republic take on Thailand while Australia meet Brazil. In Group D, a talented Portugal side are up against Iran and Cuba will face Argentina. Each team will play their three group rivals once, with the top two in each of the four sections progressing to the next stage.