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Hopefuls staggered by stalemate

Italy and Portugal played out the first 0-0 draw in the history of the FIFA Futsal World Championship finals.

Attacking flair 
Alessandro Nuccorini’s Italian side had been the favourites before the opening Group E contest in Tao Yuan County but could not find a way past a Portuguese team that proved it had the defensive resilience to go with their obvious attacking flair. Although the Azzurri had 20 shots on goal to the 12 from Orlando Duarte’s men, there was nothing between the teams in terms of ball possession. One low note for the Italians was an ankle injury to goalkeeper Gianfranco Angelini.

Javi Rodríguez shines 
Earlier, the crowd in Tao Yuan County had witnessed another all-European encounter when defending world champions Spain were 2-0 winners against the Czech Republic. Javier Lozano had to wait a while for his team to break the deadlock, however, for all their inventive play. The Czechs are renowned for their goalkeeping strength in depth but ultimately there was nothing Petr Krayzel could do to deny Javi Rodríguez a second-half double.

Semi-final repeat 
The second round of Group E matches will take place tomorrow with Spain meeting Italy in a repeat of their 2003 UEFA European Futsal Championship semi-final, while the Czechs will look to get back to winning ways against Portugal. The group will conclude with the final matches on Wednesday, with the top two sides progressing to the semi-finals.

Falcao brilliance 
Meanwhile, Group F also began today. Unlike the other four-team section, this pool boasts just one European nation, Ukraine, and they were up against the might of Brazil in their opening match. Despite contributing much to the contest, Gennadiy Lysenchuk’s team received a Futsal lesson at the National Taiwan University in Taipei City, thanks largely to an outstanding individual display from Falcao, who scored a hat-trick.

US next
The day’s other Group F match saw Argentina scrape past the United States with a 2-1 victory. The Americans are Ukraine’s next opponents tomorrow and both sides will fancy their chances of picking up their first points of the second stage. Meanwhile, Argentina will meet their South American neighbours Brazil in a match that could well determine who finishes top of the section.