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Two five set matches and two spectacular ways to open the 2010 FIVB World League Final Round on Wednesday. Defending champions Brazil opened their account with a hard-fought 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-10) win over hosts Argentina while 2009 bronze medallists Russia saw of a stern challenge from Italy to win the day’s opening game 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-7).
Both matches were pulsating affairs and had the packed crowd in the Orfeo Superdomo on its feet with riveting rallies and outstanding aerial offence as Russia took the honours in the overall World League record against Italy 17-16 while Brazil improved to 19-0 against Argentina.
Obviously the second match of the day peaked interest amongst the fans but both contests didn’t disappoint the palate.  Brazil and Argentina served up a gem of a contest. The world No. 1 looked on course for a comfortable straight sets win after winning the first set but Argentina, backed by a vocal home crowd, rode on the electric atmosphere to come back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to tie the match twice. In the end, Brazil’s coordination and teamwork paved the way for victory. 
“I have to congratulate Argentina, they played a great match, they studied us very well,” Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende, who holds a 21:0 record against Argentina across all tournaments, said. “They put pressure on us at some crucial moments when we played very badly.  We are not happy because our way of playing was not a good one and we know we have to improve so that we do not make the same mistakes.”
Earlier in the day, Russia took the honours against Italy in another brilliant five-set affair. The writing was almost on the wall after the first set for Italy but the eight-time World League winners bravely fought back in the second to reverse the rot before pushing Russia hard during the rest of the match.
“I am very happy with the result but we can’t make 27 mistakes serving,” Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli said. “We had good figures spiking but when fighting point-by-point we knew that any team could win. The key was to have a good series of points, adding 3-4 at a time together.”
The second day of the 2010 FIVB World League will see Russia take on Cuba in Pool F action at 17:30 (local time) followed by Serbia against Brazil at 21:00. The two best teams of each pool will advance to Saturday’s semifinals with the final taking place on Sunday.