MFK Dinamo Moskva are still on course to reach their third UEFA Futsal Cup final in as many years, but the two-time runners-up had to survive a real scare in their decisive Elite round match.
Having defeated Sporting Clube de Portugal and CIP Deva in their opening Group B games - scoring 14 goals without reply - mini-tournament hosts Dinamo needed only a draw against FC Shakhtar Donetsk to top the pool and reach the final-four event from 26-28 April. When Dinamo led 4-0 at half-time, their triumph seemed assured, but Shakhtar scored twice early in the second half, and two Yevgen Yunakov goals in the last three minutes left the scores level, though the Russian champions held on for the point they required.
'We're not machines'
Dinamo defender Pelé said: "We have fulfilled our task in style except for the second half against Shakhtar, but sometimes inexplicable things happen in futsal. Our team and myself made some serious mistakes and I cannot explain why that happened, but all people tend to make mistakes. We are not machines."
In the semi-finals, the draw for which will be made in March, Dinamo will meet familiar opposition as the teams that have beaten them in the last two finals - Action 21 Charleroi and current holders Boomerang Interviú - are also through, as are the club whom the Moscow outfit pipped to the 2004/05 decider, El Pozo Murcia FS. However, whereas in previous campaigns Dinamo have held a comfortable lead in the Russian league, this time they are third behind VIZ-Sinara Ek.burg and MFK Spartak Shelkovo and coach Aleksandr Shibaev knows there are some tough fixtures to come before April's European engagements.
"The final four is still quite a long way ahead and now we will focus on the Russian league where we are facing stiff competition and are not dominating the table as we have in previous years," he said, before bemoaning their relative lack of local talent. "All our goals in the Elite round were scored by our Brazilians and this is a concern for us. We need our own academy and we understand that. But we have only a reserve team that was only recently created."
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