The 2013/14 UEFA Futsal Cup ended with FC Barcelona crowned for the second time in three years.
When Araz Naxçivan eliminated seeded Sporting Clube de Portugal in November's elite round group in Lisbon, the opportunity arose to take the finals to Azerbaijan for the country's first such UEFA hosting assignment. Araz would be welcoming the other three pre-tournament seeds, who had finished first, second and third at the preceding season's event in Georgia – namely holders Kairat Almaty, FC Dynamo and Barcelona, bronze medallists in Tbilisi having beaten the Russian side in Lleida on their 2012 debut.
Thus Baku continued the tradition of the competition exploring new ground, with Kazakhstan three years previously, followed by Georgia, having also been first-time UEFA tournament hosts. Not that Araz were total novices, having come third in their only past finals appearance in 2010, and most of their squad having played at the last three UEFA Futsal EUROs for Azerbaijan under club coach Alesio.
Reinforced by spring signings including Adriano Foglia, Araz rose to the occasion from the second minute of their semi-final with Barcelona. Rafael's early strike may have prompted a three-goal riposte from Barça, yet Araz fought back with Foglia's last-gasp equaliser forcing extra time. Another late leveller from the hosts then called for a shoot-out which Marc Carmona's team won 4-2.
The opening semi at the Sarhadchi Olympic Sport Complex had reprised the 2013 final, only here Dynamo avenged that 4-3 defeat thanks to Fernandinho's 38th-minute clincher against Kairat. By ending the Kazakh club's 12-month continental reign, Dynamo reached a competition-record sixth final.
A total of 49 entrants from 48 nations had participated in the campaign, from preliminary round, through main to elite. Now everything hinged on a meeting of two of the nine teams already in the UEFA Futsal Cup pantheon, representing the two most successful countries.
First, though, was the not-inconsiderable appetiser of Araz's third-place play-off victory over Kairat. Cacau's charges let slip a two-goal lead after the sending-off of flying keeper Higuita, with the hosts' latest recovery act completed by Augusto and Eduardo. Their 6-4 triumph was notable for a Foglia double which would make the Italian the championship's top marksman with three goals.
The drama proved unrelenting. While Dynamo struck first in the final courtesy of Romulo, Barcelona hit back early in the second half through Gabriel – aiming to become the first four-time champion having won twice with Interviú – and Dyego, only for Tatù to take it to overtime.
After the same player rattled a Barça post moments into the additional period, the Catalan side broke and Aicardo shot against the upright himself, though this time the ball popped up for Fernandão to head in. Dynamo's deployment of a flying keeper merely enabled Barcelona to embellish the scoreline in the last 20 seconds when Sergio Lozano and keeper Paco Sedano scored from range. It was Dynamo's fifth final defeat, Cirilo part of them all as well as their 2007 victory.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.