Defending FIFA World Futsal Champions Spain defeated Italy 2-1 in the all European final of the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship to retain its position as world champions yesterday at the National Taiwan University Gymnasium in Taipei.
In the day's other match, Brazil beat Argentina 7-4 to take third place in the championship.
In a closely fought and at times forceful and heated match, Spain shut the Italian team out for much of a first half that saw both teams relying on markedly different styles of futsal.
While Spain concentrated on the long ball and exploited the wings, Italy set about trying to crack Spain's defense by attacking down the middle of the court.
It was end to end stuff from the off, yet the two contrasting styles cancelled each other out and neither team could break down the others' defensive barriers. The best opportunities for both teams came late into the half, with Spain's Andreu and Kike taking long-range pot shots at the Italian goal and Italy's Fabiano and Adriano Foglia trying to out-pace their markers and get into the penalty area in attempts to score.
Neither team could find an opening, however, and when the half-time whistle blew, the match remained scoreless.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 24th minute when Spain's Kike blasted a shot from just outside of the penalty area.
Obstructed by two defenders, Italian goalkeeper Alexandre Feller didn't see the ball land at the feet of Spain's midfielder and was caught off guard by Kike's set-piece-like shot.
Six minutes later Spain's Marcelo made it 2-0 with a driving short-range volley that left the Italian goalkeeper scrambling to the floor -- only able to watch as the ball dribbled over the goal line.
At two goals down and with 10 minutes on the clock, Italy pushed every man forward with the goalkeeper leaving his goalmouth dangerously unguarded. Sadly the maneuver didn't pay off until the last minute of the match when Sandro Zanetti's 40th minute goal brought the score to 2-1.
"At the beginning of the tournament, the team was struggling," said Spain coach Javier Lozano. "But in true Spanish tradition we played our best in the semifinal and final."
"I feel that [we] deserved to win and defend our title."
Brazil 7, Argentina 4
In the all South American battle for third place, Brazil beat Argentina 7-4 in a game that saw two evenly matched teams battling it out in a display of well-executed and salsa soaked Latin futsal.
Brazil got off to a blistering start with Falcao, the competition's leading scorer, putting the deposed world champions ahead in the opening minute of the match with a close range shot.
Falcao got his and Brazil's second five minutes later with a solo effort that saw the Brazilian futsal star going one-on-one with only Argentine keeper, Javier Guisdande.
Argentine defender Carlos Sanchez pulled a goal back to make it 2-1 in the ninth minute, but Falcao was on fire and increased Brazil's lead to 3-1 in the 12th minute with an easy tap within a meter of the Argentine goal line. Three goals in quick succession from Schumacher, Euler and Indio propelled Brazil into a 6-1 lead by half time.
Argentina wasted no time in trying to rescue a match that looked all but over, and within three minutes of the start of the second half, Sanchez netted his and Argentina's second score to make it 6-2.