Monday, 1 April 2013|
Holders Spain, Italy, Portugal, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic all sealed their places at UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 in Belgium next year as the main round ended and the play-off lineup was confirmed.
The seven group winners, which included early qualifiers Russia and Slovenia, join hosts Belgium in the finals in Antwerp from 28 January to 8 February 2014 while the seven runners-up and best third-placed team go into the two-legged play-offs on 17 and 24 September for the last four berths. UEFA.com rounds up the decisive action.
Qualified: Belgium (hosts), Italy, Azerbaijan, Russia, Spain (holders), Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovenia
Play-offs: Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia*, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Netherlands, Ukraine
Play-off draw on 3 July has no seeding but Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovakia cannot meet as they were in the same group.
Italy only needed a draw against Hungary to keep up their record of qualifying for every final tournament but made it in style with a 9-1 victory in Andria. Two-goal Gabriel Lima led by example with his tally matched by Saad Assis and Fortino. Finland edged Montenegro 3-1 for third place.
Before the Bratislava decider between Azerbaijan and Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina knew a win against Norway could seal a play-off berth, and duly triumphed 4-0. Slovakia scored 12 minutes in against Azerbaijan through Marek Bahna, and looked on course for a maiden qualification. But just past the half-hour Slovakia captain Ladislav Mikita received a second yellow card.
Slovakia held out for the two minutes with four players, Mario Gasparovic making some superb saves, but Azerbaijan, who only needed a draw and have qualified for the last two tournaments, levelled with less than two minutes left courtesy of Biro Jade. Then with a Slovakian flying goalkeeper on, Namig Mammadkarimov headed in Felipe's pass to seal a 2-1 win for Azerbaijan. Bosnia and Herzegovina finished second on goal difference but Slovakia made the play-offs as the best third-placed team, themselves beating Kazakhstan on goal difference.
Russia had clinched qualification on Friday and underlined their credentials with a 6-0 defeat of group hosts Latvia including a Pula hat-trick. The earlier game did have something at stake with Kazakhstan needing to beat Romania to pip them to the play-offs. Florin Ignat put Romania ahead late in the first half but Nikolay Pengrin levelled to set up a nervous finish. Romania held on to finish second on goal difference, the same measure by which Kazakhstan were denied a best third-place finish by Slovakia.
It took Spain just 53 seconds to take the lead against 2012 semi-finalists Croatia through Raúl Campos as they stormed to 10-0 win, ensuring they will bid for a fifth straight title in Belgium. Captain Torras went off on eight minutes with a thigh injury but José Venancio López's side stormed through, Sergio Lozano – who scored twice in the 2012 final against Russia – claiming a hat-trick. Sweden looked like they might end their competition debut with a point but the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia struck twice in the last two minutes through Zoran Leveski and Darko Rangotov to win 4-2.
Portugal only needed a draw against Serbia but the group hosts were roared on by a capacity crowd in Zrenjanin against their fellow 2012 quarter-finalists. And Serbia did create chances but Joăo Matos scored on six minutes and Ricardinho added a second for Portugal before the break. Serbia did not give up and Marko Peric, a welcome return to the squad for this mini-tournament, led from the front, pulling one back with nine minutes left, only for Portugal to cling on 2-1. Greece, inspired by two-goal Antonios Manos, beat Poland 4-3 for an impressive third place.
The Czech Republic beat the Netherlands 5-1 in Brno 16 months ago to deny them a FIFA Futsal World Cup play-off – and repeated the trick in Rotterdam to again prove the Dutch nemeses. Marcel Loosveld's side had a goal difference advantage at kick-off but Netherlands captain Samir Makhoukhi put the ball into his own net after 97 seconds. Mohamed Attaibi, superb throughout the mini-tournament, equalised, but Lukás Resetár, Matej Slovacek and Roman Mares mde it 4-1 at the break and Resetár scored again in the 31st minute to send the Czechs to a tenth straight major tournament. Georgia pipped Belarus 5-4 for third place.
Slovenia, who beat England 5-2 with Sebastijan Drobne and Igor Osredkar outstanding, had already clinched first place but the runners-up slot, and a play-off berth, was on offer. Hosts Turkey needed to beat Ukraine and led early through Cem Keskin only for Dmytro Sorokin to swiftly level. Turkey captain Cihan Özcan received a second yellow card early in the second half and although Ukraine did not exploit the extra player in the two minutes, they piled on the pressure, and with eight minutes left Ildar Makayev struck before a Maxym Pavlenko penalty increased their advantage. Volodymyr Razuvanov made it four and although Yasin Erdal scored at the death, Turkey will not make a second straight finals and Ukraine have the chance to keep up their record of always qualifying since 1999.