Victories for Russia, Portugal, Ukraine and the Czech Republic ensured that all six of Europe's FIFA Futsal World Cup entrants go into the final set of first group stage fixtures with a good chance of progress in Brazil.
The top two teams in each pool go into the eight-strong second group stage but all four of the UEFA members in action in the fourth set of matches needed good results after suffering weekend setbacks. In Group A Russia had to recover from a 7-0 defeat by leaders Brazil and they did so in style with a Futsal World Cup record 31-2 win against the Solomon Islands. Russia led 20-0 at the break and Pula top scored with a competition best nine goals followed by six for Sirilo, five by Damir Khamadiev, four from Vladisla Shayakhmetov and two apiece by Dmitry Prudnikov and Konstantin Maevskiy and Konstantin Agapov; Nikolay Pereverzev and Marat Azizov were also on the scoresheet. Japan beat Cuba 4-1 but are third on goal difference behind Russia, who need only draw in their decisive meeting on Wednesday. Brazil have ensured first place whatever their result against Cuba.
In the other group concluding tomorrow, Italy and Portugal occupy the top two places. Italy, with three wins following their 3-1 defeat of Portugal, sat out this set of games. That allowed Portugal to move to within three points with an 8-1 win against the United States. Leitão struck twice in the first 163 seconds and after the break completed his hat-trick, with Gonçalo, Arnaldo, Jardel, Bibi and Cardinal also on target. Paraguay beat Thailand 8-0 but trail Portugal on head-to-head record following their dramatic 3-2 defeat last week. On Wednesday, Italy face Paraguay and Portugal take on Thailand, who cannot qualify.
There are also European leaders in Group C thanks to Ukraine's 5-1 win against Egypt. Knowing a win by four would lift them above Argentina on goal difference following their weekend 2-2 draw, Ukraine had an eighth-minute Sameh Saleh own goal to thank for their opener but Valeriy Legchanov added a double penalty before the break. Dmytro Ivanov made it three and although Mizo pulled one back, Sergiy Cheporniuk's penalty and Valeriy Zamyatin's strike three minutes from time took Ukraine to the summit and they only need a draw on Thursday against China, without a point after being beaten 10-1 by Guatemala. In any case, Ukraine could only go out if they are beaten and Argentina lose against Guatemala but go ahead on goal difference.
Group D will also finish on Thursday and unusually a European side is outside the top two. The Czech Republic were aiming to recover from a 4-0 loss to Spain and beat Libya 4-2, but are a point behind the holders and Thursday opponents Iran after the Asian champions earned an identical win against Uruguay, though the margin was not enough to take them top on goal difference. Michal Mareš's seventh-minute penalty put the Czech Republic ahead against Liyba and Marek Kopecký doubled the lead before Yousef Mohamed pulled one back before the break and Mohamed Rahoma equalised in the 24th minute. Martín Dlouhý soon restored the Czech advantage and Tomáš Sluka settled matters late on. However, the Czech Republic must defeat unbeaten Iran on Thursday while Spain know only that result, coupled with a big loss against Uruguay, could end their title defence.
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