The lineup for the 2010 UEFA European Futsal Championship is complete after a thrilling conclusion to qualifying.
Italy and Russia had already booked their places alongside hosts Hungary in Budapest and Debrecen from 19-30 January, and holders Spain joined them today along with fellow group winners Ukraine, Portugal, Belgium and the Czech Republic, who needed two last-minute goals to pip Croatia 3-2 in Ostrava. The four best-runners up also qualified and Azerbaijan and Belarus will both play in their first futsal final tournament via that method along with Slovenia and Serbia, who finished a goal ahead of Slovakia and Croatia. uefa.com round up the final day action.
Romania, who made their finals debut in Porto two years ago, needed a win against leaders Ukraine in Tirgu Mures to qualify. However, two-time runners-up Ukraine secured a 2-2 draw and Romania's five-point total proved insufficient as they departed the competition unbeaten. The Netherlands finished third as, after two defeats by Romania and Ukraine, they beat Andorra 7-1.
Spain defeated Slovakia 4-0 on home territory in Badajoz and will go for a third consecutive title in Hungary. Fernandao struck on nine minutes and he did so again just before the break, seconds after Kike had made it 2-0. Dani Salgado completed the scoring. Slovakia finished with a total of six points but their goal difference as runners-up was inferior to Serbia, Belarus and Slovenia, denying them a finals berth. Kazakhstan pipped Moldova to third place on goal difference following a 1-1 draw. Moldova's Vladimir Japalau equalised two minutes from time.
The Czech Republic had to defeat Croatia in Ostrava to reach their seventh straight major futsal final tournament, and duly did so though it was not as comfortable as their 5-1 win in similar circumstances against the same opposition in Zagreb two years ago. Zdeněk Sláma gave the Czech Republic an early lead but Matija Dulvat equalised nine minutes into the second half. As the home side pushed for a winner, Tihomir Novak rolled the ball into an empty net with one minute remaining but in the dying seconds Czech captain Martín Dlouhý struck twice, either side of Novak being sent off for a foul on Marek Kopecký. Croatia then had a double heartbreak with their goal difference not quite enough to earn one of the best runners-up spots. Bosnia-Herzegovina had put up a strong challenge after holding the Czech Republic in their opening game but ended fourth after losing 2-0 to Latvia, who had their best campaign in this competition.
Italy had already won the group in Kaunas and celebrated by defeating hosts Lithuania 6-0. Vampeta Dos Santos's sixth-minute strike was added to by two before the break from Battistella and a Marco Ercolessi pair after half-time and Francesco Gigliofiorito made it six near the end. Second place was up for grabs, with Belarus only needing a draw against Georgia but knowing only a win would give them a finals chance. Belarus duly prevailed 2-0 with a goal in each half from Mikhail Papou and Aliaksandr Haiduk, but there was then a nervous two-hour wait for the second set of Matchday 3 games before Belarus were confirmed as one of the finalists.
Belgium and Serbia met in Antwerp with each on six points and the hosts ahead on goal difference. In a close game, Belgium prevailed 4-3 to qualify for the first time since 2003, but by scoring three goals and only losing by a margin of one, Serbia ended as the fourth best runners-up and are in their second straight final tournament. Greece held on to third place with a 2-2 draw against F.Y.R. Macedonia that got both teams off the mark.
Both Azerbaijan and Portugal knew that victories today would guarantee qualification with seven points good enough at least for a best runners-up berth in Hungary. Azerbaijan, top on goal difference, played first against Finland, who themselves had hopes of emulating Romania's feat in 2007 by qualifying for the finals having started in the preliminary round. However, Azerbaijan prevailed 5-1 to ensure a debut in a UEFA final tournament, having been given a half-time lead by Biro Jade. Thiago scored twice early in the second half and, after Ville Lindgren pulled one back, Azerbaijan goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankine struck from distance and Serjão completed the victory. Group hosts Portugal overcame Poland 8-1 to claim first place on goal difference.
Russia were already confirmed as group winners before their 2-0 win against mini-tournament hosts France. As in Group 4, second place was the focus of interest and Slovenia defeated Montenegro 7-1, with six of their goals following half-time, which was to prove enough to take them to their first finals since 2003.
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