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Kairat Almaty displayed skill and then grit to hold off MFK Dinamo and win the UEFA Futsal Cup.
Never before had Kazakhstan been represented in a UEFA final, yet Kairat, who defeated holders FC Barcelona in the semis, dominated much of the game against the 2007 winners. It was 1-1 at the break, but then Leo Santana, Fumasa and Higuita put Kairat in control, only for Dinamo to score twice to set up a hectic conclusion.
Dinamo brought pivot Fernandinho back into their 12 but stuck with Aleksei Popov in goal despite Gustavo returning from a suspension in their 5-2 semi-final win against Iberia Star Tbilisi. Kairat once again used Higuita as a fifth outfield player whenever possible, the goalkeeper even making saves with his body in the Dinamo half to prevent early embarrassment.
Kairat started well, and Popov had to deny Fumasa, who got a hat-trick in the 5-4 last-four elimination of Barcelona, as well as Euler. However, a slip in the Kairat defence allowed Nando to find Pula, who missed the target, as did Fumasa from point-blank range seconds later.
In the 11th minute, Kairat took the lead in bizarre fashion. Euler found Alexandre Moraes virtually on the byline and his shot deflected in off the legs of Popov. Dieguinho shot wide as Dinamo responded, and Higuita tipped a Fernandinho effort past a post. Meanwhile, Popov made amends with a brave save from Moraes and Dinamo equalised a minute from half-time through a superb low Sergei Sergeev shot.
It was nearly 2-1 to Dinamo seconds after the interval when Romulo's free-kick was blocked by Fumasa and his attempt on the rebound shaved the post. At the other end, Leo hit the underside of the bar, but he set up Kairat's second by picking out Leo Santana, who beat Popov at his near post.
The keeper then made some important saves to keep Dinamo in touch, including one from Leo Santana, while Betão – a 2009 winner with Interviú Madrid – went agonisingly close. But it was 3-1 when Moraes' shot was turned in on the line by Fumasa.
That prompted Dinamo coach Faustino Pérez, hoping to become the first man to manage three final victories, to use Tatù as a flying goalkeeper. The tactic nonetheless backfired when Higuita, whose shooting prowess is well established, was able to punt into an empty net.
Despite that goal, embarrasment swiftly followed for Higuita as a clearance was charged down by Cirilo to pull it back to 4-2. Tatù then smashed a low finish through a crowd of players and, with three minutes left, Dinamo trailed only by one. Nando produced a great block when it looked like Fumasa would remove all doubt in the last minute, but, after Cirilo hit the post, Kairat held on to make history for Kazakhstan.
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