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Czechs edge Romania in thriller

The Czech Republic qualified for the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals after an away goals play-off triumph over Romania while Ukraine and Portugal also booked their berths in Brazil.

Tomáš Sluka's away goal proved the difference between the Czech Republic and Romania
Tomáš Sluka's away goal proved the difference between the Czech Republic and Romania ©Sportsfile

Romania 2-2 Czech Republic (agg 3-3, Czech Republic win on away goals)
At home in the second leg, Romania seemed to have the advantage after their 1-1 draw in the first match, having beaten the Czech Republic 8-4 on their UEFA European Futsal Championship debut last November. But on seven minutes David Frič put the visitors to Tirgu-Mures in front from nine metres out and within three minutes Tomáš Sluka had doubled the advantage. Now Romania needed three goals, and poured forward putting constant pressure on the away team. They pulled one back before the break through Cosmin Gherman turning in Ion Alioani's cross, and four minutes into the second half Florin Matei levelled the score on the day, combining with Alioani. However, some fine saves from Tomáš Meller in the visitors' goal kept Romania at bay and, after a late Gherman miss, the Czech Republic, who reached the second group stage on their World Cup debut four years ago, will be on their way to Brazil from 30 September-19 October.

Hungary 4-3 Ukraine (agg 5-6)
Ukraine qualified for their third world finals in four editions but were given a big scare by Hungary who led 4-1 deep into the second half. The visiting side, 3-1 up from their home leg, actually took the lead on the night after five minutes through Fedir Pylypiv but Hungary, bidding to make their first finals in 19 years, soon responded. János Madarász levelled and then Tamás Lódi gave the home side the lead in the 12th minute. Mihály Kozma's side then evened up the tie after the break when the ball was inadvertently deflected in by Oleksandr Khursov. The goal sparked jubilant scenes among the 2,000 spectators in Gyöngyös and it got better for the home fans as Pál Baranyai shot in from a tight angle to put 2010 UEFA European Futsal Championship hosts Hungary ahead on aggregate with ten minutes left. However, Dmytro Silchenko put Ukraine in front on away goals in the 38th minute after coach Gennadiy Lysenchuk deployed a flying goalkeeper and Pylypiv made sure soon after.

Portugal 3-0 Slovenia (agg 9-1)
After a 6-1 win in the first leg of their play-off, Portugal confirmed their qualification for the finals with a comfortable 3-0 win in Lisbon. Semi-finalists in 2000, the home side reached half-time with a three goal advantage after strikes from Arnaldo, Ricardinho and Pedro Costa. Orlando Duarte’s players did not manage to add to their tally in the second half but the first-leg result combined with the goals in the opening period were more than enough to confirm the trip to Brazil where they will take part in their third successive finals.

Croatia challenge Italy
Holders Spain and Russia, who missed out four years ago, clinched their places in Brazil at the weekend, while Europe's sixth and final slot in the 6 July draw is decided on Wednesday. Croatia welcome Italy to Ploce needing to overturn a 6-3 deficit to the Azzurri, beaten finalists in 2004.