Ukraine will travel to Croatia for UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 in good heart after winning the Baku International tournament with a perfect three victories.
Gennadiy Lysenchuk's side beat fellow EURO finalists Turkey 5-1 and Azerbaijan 3-2 before clinching first place with a 2-1 victory against Uzbekistan. Azerbaijan were second, overcoming Uzbekistan 3-2 and, after their loss to Ukraine, drawing 2-2 with Turkey, who also had a goalless game against the Asian contenders.
Azerbaijan had never lost to Ukraine prior to this tournament, knocking them out of EURO 2010 on penalties and also beating them 3-0 in the 2011 Baku tournament and 4-2 in last month's FIFA Futsal World Cup main round. This time Dmytro Sorokin put Ukraine ahead after 16 minutes with further strikes from Dmytro Fedorchenko and Serhiy Zhurba making it 3-0 before Serjão scored twice in 60 seconds to reduce the arrears.
Lysenchuk, whose two-time runners-up open their campaign in Zagreb against Slovenia on 2 February before playing Spain two days later in Group B, said: "We suffered several defeats by Azerbaijan of late. That is why we were extremely motivated to take revenge. The final minutes were especially difficult as our opponents managed to score twice. However, I am happy my team held on to win this game."
Home coach Alesio, whose 2010 semi-finalists meet Portugal and Serbia in Group D, said: "We felt the absence of our goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin and Biro Jade during this tournament. And we did not have much time for proper preparations after the New Year holidays and we experienced some clear problems both in attack and defence. Anyway, Ukraine are the team to beat. This tournament helped us a lot and we will do our best to be properly prepared in the future."
Turkey, whose draws against Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan ended a run of four straight defeats, will be in Split to play Italy and Russia in Group C on their major final tournament debut.
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