Spain confirmed that they will be the team to beat when UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 qualifying begins next year after winning the prestigious Grand Prix in Brazil by ending the hosts' 163-game unbeaten run.
Brazil had won all five previous editions of the annual tournament but this was the first time that Spain, FIFA Futsal World Cup winners in 2000 and 2004 but beaten in the 2008 final on penalties by Brazil, had entered. On their way to the decider, Brazil had scored 30 goals in five victories, taking their winning run to 45 games over 19 months; they were last defeated over 40 minutes in December 2005 by Spain.
In the final in Anapolis, Spain were two up at the break through Rafa Usín – his fourth goal of a tournament in which he made his debut – and Ortiz. Although MFK Dinamo Moskva's Fernandinho pulled one back with 13 minutes left, La Roja held on to win 2-1, just as they did the last time Brazil lost.
José Venancio López's side had come through the tournament with a perfect record. They beat Qatar 13-0, Argentina 4-2 and Romania 7-1 in the group stage, Portugal 3-1 in the last eight – repeating the scoreline from the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 decider – and Iran 6-4 in the semi-finals, having trailed 3-1 at the break. The squad was a mixture of established names like Luis Amado and Kike plus promising newcomers like Rafa Usín and Pola, aiming to step into the boots of retired stalwarts Javier Rodríguez and Daniel.
"Winning this title shows that the new faces in the team can maintain the high standard of the national side," Pola said. "
A lot was said about how the new generation was inferior to that of the old but we've won here and that's something very important for us."
Kike added: "Winning was our objective when we came to the tournament. Thankfully we managed to do that in what was a great game in front of a packed house. For us, it's another demonstration of Spain's strength in the sport and it shows why we carry the stars on our chest. I think we were the deserved winners."
Italy were the best-placed of the other European entrants, defeating Portugal 3-0 having had their title hopes ended 6-1 by Brazil in the quarter-finals. Also reaching that stage were the Czech Republic, but they lost 7-2 to Paraguay and ended eighth.
Russia fell in the group stage but defeated Qatar 9-2, Guatemala 7-4 in extra time and Libya 2-0 for ninth position; the Netherlands overcame Romania 3-1 to come 13th. All seven of those European teams will compete from 24 to 27 February in qualifying to reach the continental finals in Croatia the following year.
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