Kairat Almaty and Iberia Star Tbilisi will go head to head for a UEFA Futsal Cup finals place on Tuesday after both secured second elite round Group C wins.
Kazakhstan's mini-tournament hosts and the Georgian champions were the Matchday 1 winners on Saturday and followed those victories up 24 hours later, Iberia beating Akademia FC Pniewy 3-1 and Kairat defeating Slov-Matic Bratislava by the same scoreline. Kairat top Group C on goal difference so need only a point against Iberia to reach the semi-finals for the fourth time in six years.
Iberia, by contrast, have never been beyond the elite round but the only team to enter all ten editions of this competition have ambitions to make April's finals. Today they led the Polish tournament debutants late in the first half through Vassoura. Betinho doubled the advantage not long after the break and although Rafal Franz pulled one back for Pniewy with five minutes left with a flying goalkeeper deployed, Roni ensured Iberia matched their 3-1 opening defeat of Bratislava.
The Slovakian hopefuls had fallen behind early in that game but today grabbed the initiative against Kairat in the sixth minute thanks to Anton Brunovský. However, by the interval Katata and Leo had turned the contest in Kairat's favour and Leo Santana made it 3-1 in the 35th minute for the Almaty side, who have played in the four-team finals twice since the showpiece stage was introduced in 2006/07.
Kairat coach João Carlos Barbosa said: "Before the tournament I said that no team came to Almaty by chance. And Slov-Matic are a clear example of that." His opposite number Ján Janík, for who Mário Gašparovič was superb in goal, added: "Our goalkeeper has raised our national flag very high today. Three-one is a very good result for us."
Before this section is completed, Group B kicks off in Russia on Monday with hosts MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg – winners in 2007/08 – playing Italy's ASD Città Di Montesilvano C/5 after last season's bronze-medallists Araz Naxçivan take on sole preliminary round survivors AGBU Ararat Nicosia FC. The other two groups begin on Thursday.
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