FIFA Futsal World Cup holders Spain needed to come back from 3-0 down to hold Iran 3-3 in the opening fixture of their title defence in Brazil while 2004 runners-up Italy claimed a narrow 1-0 win against Thailand.
Iran are the dominant force in Asia but it was still a surprise when they raced into a comfortable half-time lead through Mohammad Taheri, Vahid Shamsaee and Ali Hassanzadeh. But Jordi Torras pulled one back two minutes into the second period and on the half-hour Borja, having gone close on several occasions, produced a strong finish. Spain continued to press and with four minutes remaining Torras completed the comeback though Iran held on for a point. The other Group D opener in Rio de Janeiro also finished 3-3 between Uruguay and Spain's next opponents Libya. The Czech Republic enter the fray on Friday against Uruguay.
Italy are also playing in Rio de Janeiro in Group B but required a 15th-minute Nando Grana penalty to see off Thailand. Italy now face the United States, who lost 5-0 to Paraguay, the first opponents for Portugal. The other two European teams begin their fixtures in the second tranche of matches in Brasilia. Russia, in Group A, meet Cuba, who beat the Solomon Islands 10-2 while hosts Brazil saw off Japan 12-1. Ukraine's Group C campaign starts against Guatemala, 1-0 winners against Egypt as Argentina defeated China 5-0.
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