Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Romania, and Turkey completed the lineup for UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 early next year after claiming the last qualifying places on Sunday.
Holders Spain, 2010 runners-up Portugal, former champions Russia and Italy, plus Azerbaijan and Slovenia had all ensured their places alongside hosts Croatia in the 9 September draw in Zagreb with a match to spare. Ukraine and the Czech Republic, like Spain, Russia, Portugal and Italy, have topped their groups. Serbia, Romania and first-time qualifiers Turkey, meanwhile, made sure they, Azerbaijan and Slovenia were the five best runners-up ahead of Belarus. UEFA.com rounds up the final-day action.
Spain and Azerbaijan were already through in Baku but still had to compete for first place. The defending champions showed why many tip them to take a fourth straight title in Croatia as they beat the 2010 semi-finalists 8-3, José Ruiz scoring twice and six others on target. Serjão's two goals for Azerbaijan took his tally to five, the highest of the qualifying round. Kazakhstan overcame France 2-0 for third place.
Serbia were three points behind second-placed hosts the Netherlands at kick-off and also had a goal difference deficit to pull back. But they were excellent in defeating Finland 6-0, aided by a Mladen Kocić hat-trick.
Now any win for already-qualified Russia against the Netherlands would let Serbia in on goal difference. And to the disappointment of the home side, who had conceded a very late equaliser against Serbia on Thursday, Cirilo scored on seven and 28 minutes for Russia. Results elsewhere meant Serbia did indeed reach their third straight final tournament.
Portugal had clinched first place on Friday but there was still the runners-up spot to play for. In the opener, Belarus narrowly beat the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2-1 to move on to four points. It was a cautious, goalless first half but the 2010 qualifiers picked it up after the break and were soon two up. Although FYROM deployed a flying goalkeeper and pulled one back with five minutes left, they were denied an leveller by the crossbar.
Hosts Poland had drawn with both those sides and knew a win against Portugal, in front of a fervent home crowd, could have been enough for them to be in the top five runners-up. However, the 2010 beaten finalists Portugal racked up a 6-0 victory, Gonçalo having scored in the opening minute. Belarus were also eliminated as their goal difference was inferior to Serbia's.
Slovakia knew they had to win and hope the Czech Republic avoided a narrow defeat by Romania to qualify for the first time, and kept their end of the bargain with a 4-0 victory against Norway. Within eight minutes there were goals from Martin Rejžek and Attila Fehervári, who got a second on 33 minutes. Goalkeeper Mário Gašparovič had kept a game Norway team out with the score 2-0 and at the other end Kenneth Rakvaag was excellent late on as Slovakia turned on the style. Norway, though, bowed out of their debut futsal campaign with credit.
The pressure was now on Romania but they and the Czech Republic played out a cautious, goalless first half. After the break, though, Romania took the initiative. Despite the efforts of Czech goalkeeper Libor Gerčák, the home side struck in the 27th minute with Cosmin Gherman's powerful shot. Now both teams were in qualifying positions and that was how it ended, denying Slovakia a finals bow.
Despite having lost 12-2 to Ukraine on Friday, Turkey knew a win against point-less Belgium could take them to their first finals. Belgium, who qualified in 2010, fought hard, twice cancelling out goals by Cihan Özcan, the second equaliser in the last minute. But with only ten seconds left Cihan completed a hat-trick to make it 3-2 to Turkey.
Still, Turkey could have been denied if Hungary beat Ukraine to finish second behind the mini-tournament hosts, who only needed to avoid an unlikely 20-goal loss. However, Ukraine were swiftly two up and although Tamás Nagy pulled one back before the break for the 2010 finals hosts, Hungary did not take their chances in the second half. Denys Ovsyannikov and Yevgen Rogachov ended their hopes, to Turkey's delight.
Top two Italy and Slovenia were already sure of qualification but the Azzurri secured first place against the home team with a 2-0 win in a tight game thanks to a Fortina goal either side of half-time. Earlier Bosnia and Herzegovina had come from behind to beat Latvia 3-2 for third place, Maid Ramić striking a late winner from ten metres.
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