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UEFA.com's pick of UEFA Futsal EURO 2014

Published: Sunday 9 February 2014, 14.08CET
From Italy's collective spirit to Russia's individual displays, Matija Capar's tearful Croatian heroics and Ricardinho magic: UEFA.com's reporting team pick their highlights.
by UEFA.com reporting team
from Antwerp
UEFA.com's pick of UEFA Futsal EURO 2014
Italy's squad unity was the key to victory ©Sportsfile
 

Photos

Published: Sunday 9 February 2014, 14.08CET

UEFA.com's pick of UEFA Futsal EURO 2014

From Italy's collective spirit to Russia's individual displays, Matija Capar's tearful Croatian heroics and Ricardinho magic: UEFA.com's reporting team pick their highlights.

Gonzalo Aguado: Champions abdicate in grace
It is not easy to choose a highlight from a Spanish point of view when a team used to lifting the trophy falls in the semi-finals. But it was precisely there, in defeat, that Spain proved to be true champions. Coach José Venancio López appeared in the media and congratulated Russia on their victory. He did not make any kind of excuse despite being severely hit by injuries in Antwerp. He only congratulated Russia and thanked his players for their efforts in the last month. We knew Spain were good in victory, but in defeat they are better.

Wayne Harrison: Capar flying and crying
It is not unusual for a flying goalkeeper to score in futsal – however, for one to do so in consecutive matches, from almost identical positions to snatch his team a 3-3 draw from the jaws of defeat, surely is. That is what Matija Capar did in Croatia's Group D fixtures against now deposed holders Spain and, two days later, the Czech Republic. Not bad for a player who has spent much of the last few years assuming his career was over due to injury, hence his tears after the Spain draw. "Today, the coach said I was not going to play flying goalkeeper, but [Dario] Marinović picked up an injury and I played," he told UEFA.com after the Czech game. "This was God's plan, I think!"

Mikhail Malkin: Russia make history
Ahead of the semi-finals, Spain had not lost to a European team in nine years, and leading 1-0 having dominated the first half, that record looked set to remain. However, Russia's mentality changed at the break; they fought like tigers and got 3-2 up only to concede a late equaliser, just as in the 2012 showpiece. This time, though, Russia continued their great Olympic spirit and scored the winner through Robinho 66 seconds before the end of extra time. Russia started to dance the Khorovod after the whistle, while Spain could not believe that they would miss the final for only the second time. "Sooner or later a defeat would arrive," admitted coach López.

Paolo Menicucci: Champions Azzurri united
From the rock-solid Stefano Mammarella in goal to the skilful Gabriel Lima, there were some individual pieces of brilliance from Italy as they won UEFA Futsal EURO 2014. The key for the Azzurri, however, was the collective effort of their entire squad, with 14 players making an important contribution during the tournament. When you have a goalkeeper of Mammarella's calibre ahead of you in the pecking order, it is not easy to make your mark, but Michele Miarelli did. After replacing the No1 just after he had made it 6-0 against Azerbaijan, Miarelli promptly scored himself. Had you ever seen two goalkeepers find the net in the same game? Not me.

©Sportsfile

Russia's Eder Lima

Paul Saffer: Eder Lima – quantity and quality
Russia pivot Eder Lima was top scorer with nine 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup goals on his major finals debut, and completed a unique double with eight strikes on his way to winning the 2014 adidas Golden Shoe. The pick was undoubtedly the fourth of those goals; with Russia 4-3 down near the end of their group game with Portugal, Robinho's lofted cross was met by an acrobatic Eder Lima bicycle kick that secured first place in the section. Watch in our highlights reel of the group stage (around 01:37). His turn and shot to equalise in the final was not bad either, but of the Portugal strike Eder Lima said: "This goal was seen by the whole world, it was shown on every TV screen. I have never seen anything like this goal. Nobody has scored in such a way, even the legendary Brazilian Falcão."

Nuno Tavares: Ricardinho's magic against Italy
Eight may now be the number of times Italy have eliminated Portugal at a major tournament following their 4-3 win in the semi-finals, but that daunting statistic does not diminish what, in my opinion, was the best performance by an individual player at the finals. Ricardinho had already further boosted his stellar reputation in the group stages, against the Netherlands and Russia, before another inspiring display helped his team knock out Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

The best was yet to come, however, with his mesmerising talent and commitment giving hope to Portugal right until the last second of the Sportpaleis clash against Italy. Always one of the most exciting players to watch, his tournament-high five assists tell a different tale about the 28-year-old who once was labelled as nothing more than a 'showboater'.

Last updated: 10/02/14 11.52CET

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