Friday 12 October 2018, 21:31

Russia into semis, Argentina in trouble

  • Russia defeat IR Iran to reach semi-finals

  • Iraq dispose of Argentina, blowing Group A wide open

  • IRN 1-2 RUS | ARG 1-4 IRQ

THE DAY REPLAYED – The sixth matchday of the Men’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018 was notable for tight contests and high tension.

When all was said and done, two things were clear: Russia were through to the semi-finals and, following Iraq’s triumph over Argentina, Group A remained as open as ever, with three teams vying for two spots in the final four.

In the first game, the Russians came from behind, scoring the winning goal with two minutes to play to move one step closer to an Olympic medal.

Mehdi Alizadeh’s goal for Iran, notched halfway through the second half, appeared to have put Russia’s tournament hopes in serious jeopardy. However, a successfully converted penalty by Danil Karpiuk and a late strike by Ilia Fedorov secured a memorable victory – and qualification – for the Europeans.

The second match developed along similar lines. Despite opening the scoring through Santiago Rufino, Argentina were unable to build on their advantage and finished up on the end of a defeat that severely endangers their chances of advancing from the section.

Mohammed Dalfi, Hussein Al-Daray, Ezzat Hussein and goalkeeper Salim Al-Darraji did the damage for the Iraqis; crucially, two of the goals came when the hosts were playing with a fly ’keeper.

The result leaves Iraq, who have now fulfilled all of their group-stage fixtures, with a fighting chance of reaching the semi-finals. Their fate – and that of the two other teams still in the hunt – will be determined on the final day of group play.

Did you know?

  • Ilia Fedorov is Russia’s top goalscorer, having found the net five times at Buenos Aires 2018. Impressively, the clinical forward scored in all four of his country’s group matches: twice versus Costa Rica, and once in the games against Brazil, Solomon Islands and Iran.

  • When Salim Al-Darraji got on the scoresheet for Iraq on Friday, it was the second time – out of a total of 112 goals – that a goalkeeper had hit the back of the net during the tournament.

What’s next 13 October Costa Rica-Iran, Group B, Main Futsal Hall Solomon Islands-Brazil, Group B, CeNARD Hall Panama-Argentina, Group A, Main Futsal Hall Egypt-Slovakia, Group A, CeNARD Hall

Practically anything can happen in Group A, where Iraq occupy first place (seven points, with a +7 goal difference) but have played all of their games and must wait to see what happens in the encounters involving Egypt (seven points, +6 goal difference) and Argentina (four points, +1 goal difference).

The Egyptians require just a point against Slovakia to clinch a spot in the last four, and could even advance if they suffer a defeat. In the event of a loss to the already-eliminated Europeans, the Africans’ fate would depend on how Argentina perform against Panama.

In order to keep their destiny in their own hands, La Albiceleste require a six-goal victory over the Panamanians. A success by a smaller margin may see their fans bring out their pocket calculators in the stands. However, a draw or a defeat will automatically eliminate the South Americans.

In Group B, all that remains is to determine the order in which semi-finalists Brazil and Russia will finish.

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