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Iberia and Montesilvano move forward

The competition's only ever-presents Iberia Star Tbilisi and newcomers ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 both sealed elite round places on Thursday but MNK Nacional Zagreb will have to wait.

Montesilvano celebrate scoring in their 6-1 defeat of Ilves
Montesilvano celebrate scoring in their 6-1 defeat of Ilves ©Cassella/Divisione Calcio a 5

UEFA Futsal Cup ever-presents Iberia Star Tbilisi and newcomers ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 both secured elite round places on Thursday.

Iberia, who made it through a round for the first time last season, repeated the trick in some style with a 5-0 defeat of main round Group 4 hosts FK EP Chrudim to pip their opponents to first place, though the Czech side had already ensured progress. Betinho and Fumasa both scored twice while Toni was superb in goal for Iberia, saving two double penalties. At kick-off Iberia already knew they were through as Győri ETO FC, who needed to win to have any chance of pipping them, lost 3-1 to FC Mapid Minsk.

Oleg Solodovnyk, the Iberia coach, told UEFA.com: "It was a hard game for us, the hosts had won their two games this week but this game was in our hands from the beginning and I think we deserved to win."

Montesilvano, staging Group 5 in Italy, picked up the victory they needed against FS Ilves Tampere to go through with a game to spare, securing a 6-1 success. Coach Fulvio Colini, who will rest double goalscorer Cristian Borruto and Fabricio Calderolli when they try to get the point they need for first place against MNK Nacional Zagreb on Saturday as they are one booking from missing the elite round opener, said: "I am proud to go through but it would be stupid to lose the opportunity to finish top. It's a great opportunity, because we could get a better draw."

Nacional might have joined them but were held 2-2 by ASA Tel-Aviv, needing Matija Čapar to equalise with four minutes left after fine display from Shahaf Bar-Zakay in the opposition goal. The Croatian champions still need a point against Montesilvano on Saturday, otherwise the Israeli side could pip them on goal difference by beating Ilves.

ASA coach Yron Necher said: "If someone had told me before the match that at half-time we would be at 1-1 I would have taken him as crazy. I asked my players to play as they do in training sessions, without pressure because we have nothing to lose. Now we're following a dream, qualification, although goal difference is very bad for us."

The last mini-tournament to begin, Group 2, got under way in Ukraine and hosts FC Time Lviv eased to a 5-1 win against AGBU Ararat Nicosia FC that could have been even more. The other match was tighter, MNK Orlić Sarajevo defeating Athina '90 Athens 4-3 aided by two Nermin Kahvedzić goals and a fine team effort. On Friday Time and Orlić go head to head.

Group 1 concluded in Slovakia but Sporting Clube de Portugal and Slov-Matic Bratislava had already ensured progress. Two Caio Japa goals gave Sporting a 2-1 win against Bratislava and first place. FC Kobarid, inspired by Jani Ručna, defeated KMF Zelezarec Skopje 5-3 for third place with three goals in a frantic last five minutes.

It will be a similar story on Friday in Group 3 where hosts City'us Târgu Mureş play Araz Naxçivan for first place with both already ensured of elite round berths. However, Group 6 concludes with everything still open; Serbian hosts KMF Ekonomac Kragujevac are three points clear and need only draw with Action 21 Charleroi, who will be hoping Akademia FC Pniewy slip up against bottom side Kremlin Bicêtre United.