Kairat Almaty are through to the UEFA Futsal Cup finals for the third time in four years while three teams will go into the last day of elite round Group B still able to join them.
Group C hosts Kairat went into Tuesday's game with Iberia Star Tbilisi holding a three-point advantage after the Georgian side's previous 3-1 win against Akademia FC Pniewy was ruled as a 5-0 forfeit defeat by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body for fielding an ineligible player. That meant the Polish side could still qualify too but they lost 3-0 to Slov-Matic Bratislava with a clean sheet for the superb Mário Gašparovič and then Kairat drew 2-2 with Iberia to secure top spot.
Dinmukhambet Suleimenov struck in the second minute for Kairat from a swift counterattack but later in the half Betinho and Roninho scored in quick succession to put Iberia in front and Leo missed a penalty for the hosts. However, in the 29th minute Leo made amends from the spot and although Roni had a late chance to take Iberia through he shot straight at home goalkeeper Jeronimo.
The Kairat celebrations could then begin as they reached their fourth semi-final, and third since the one-venue showpiece was introduced in 2007. "In the first half we played with our hearts, not our heads," Kairat coach João Carlos Barbosa said. "However the fans then saw the true Kairat.
My players never played with support like they had today. Thank you!"
Italy's ASD Città Di Montesilvano C/5 caused a stir on Monday when they opened Group B in Russia with a 2-1 win against hosts and 2008 champions MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg. That gave them the chance to go through with a game to spare with victory against yesterday's other successful team, Araz Naxçivan. Ricardo Caputo put Montesilvano ahead on 25 minutes with a long shot that Araz goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin misjudged but Batolo equalised just past the half-hour. Hernán Garcías swiftly restored Montesilvano's lead but with 79 seconds left Vitaliy Borisov made it 2-2.
That leaves both goal-difference leaders Araz and Montesilvano a point ahead of Ekaterinburg, who ended the hopes of preliminary round qualifiers AGBU Ararat Nicosia FC 12-1. Ararat had only lost 2-1 to Araz but by the time Zoltán Mihály claimed a late consolation with a double penalty today, nine of Sinara's 12 players had scored including two each by Pavel Chistopolov, Konstantin Agapov and Damir Khamadiyev.
However, to match Kairat in reaching their third final tournament in four years, Ekaterinburg must beat Araz on Thursday and hope Montesilvano do not defeat Ararat. Sinara coach Sergey Skorovich said: "Today everything worked out, but all was decided yesterday, when we did not win."
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