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Trio make tracks for the play-offs

Italy, Ukraine and Slovenia are the first three sides to clinch placesin the FIFA Futsal World Cup qualifying play-offs while holders Spainmade a superb start to their bid.

Slovenia coach Andrej Dobovicnik watches his side beat Greece to reach the play-offs
Slovenia coach Andrej Dobovicnik watches his side beat Greece to reach the play-offs ©Domenic Aquilina

Group 1
Due to France's withdrawal, their game with Serbia was not played in Belgrade. The home side face Russia on Sunday in the only match in the pool.

Group 2
Bosnia-Herzegovina bounced back from being held 1-1 by Lithuania in Visoko to see off Estonia 12-1. But although the Dutch were then pegged back for a 3-3 draw by Lithuania, their 13-0 defeat of Estonia on Thursday keeps them top on goal difference – though all of the top three can still finish first.

Group 3
In a three-team pool, Andreu won his 100th cap for Spain in Caceres and was among the scorers as the reigning champions beat Georgia 13-1. Marcelo and Javi Rodríguez both claimed hat-tricks to put the pressure on Croatia, who play Georgia on Saturday.

Group 4
Home side Hungary followed up their 3-0 win against F.Y.R. Macedonia with a 15-0 defeat of England, Zsolt Gyurcsányi registering five goals and Tamás Lódi four. Poland beat F.Y.R Macedonia 6-2 but trail Sunday's opponents Hungary on goal difference.

Group 5
Having held 2007 UEFA European Futsal Championship qualifier Romania 3-3 on Thursday, Belarus beat Belgium 4-1. That leaves them top by a single goal from Romania, 3-1 winners against Montenegro. If Belgium, one point adrift, are to top the group, they must beat Romania on Sunday and hope Belarus do not defeat Montenegro.

Group 6
The Czech Republic, at home in Chrudim, and Azerbaijan both won on Thursday and repeated the trick to set up a Sunday decider. Azerbaijan defeated Finland 4-2 and thanks to their previous 9-1 win against Armenia are top on goal difference, as the Czech Republic could only register a 2-0 result against the latter nation.

Group 7
Although there were two more tight games in Malta, Slovenia have now secured first place and entry into next week's play-off draw. Albania, beaten 2-0 by Slovenia on Thursday, first took on Malta – looking to bounce back from a 2-1 loss to Greece. Zamir Lumanas put Albania ahead after only two minutes, and the same player doubled the score midway through the half. John Cutajar pulled one back after the break but could not prevent a second 2-1 loss. That meant Slovenia knew a win against Greece would confirm first place, and they led 2-1 at the break as Denis Ibrišimović scored twice either side of an Apostolos Gkaifyllias goal. Benjamin Melink struck for Slovenia in the dying secondsto make sure of victory.

Group 8
Italy are also through, as they followed up their 12-1 win against Cyprus with a 7-0 defeat of Kazakhstan in Pescara. Kazakhstan had beaten Andorra 2-1 on Thursday, and the principality's 6-5 loss to Cyprus in the earlier game had ensured that the Azzurri, runners-up in 2004 to Spain, knew three points would take them into the play-offs.

Group 9
Portugal opened up a three-point lead as they added a 3-0 win against Slovakia to a 4-0 win against Latvia, who lost 3-2 to Turkey, defeated by Slovakia on Thursday. A point for Portugal against hosts Turkey on Sunday would clinch first place, while Slovakia cannot finish top even if they beat Latvia –- in which case Turkey would need a three-goal win.

Group 10
Ukraine seldom miss out on major futsal finals and are a step closer to Brazil after securing progress to the play-offs. They were given the chance as their Thursday victims Israel saw off home team Bulgaria 2-0 in the early game. Ukraine now knew a win would be enough against Moldova, who beat Bulgaria 2-0 yesterday, and sure enough a 4-0 success took them through.