Kazakhstan beat Serbia for Futsal EURO bronze

Serbia 2-5 Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan became the first finals debutants to claim a medal since the inaugural edition in 1996 by beating the hosts.

Watch Kazakhstan claim historic bronze
  • A hat-trick from Douglas helps debutants Kazakhstan cruise to bronze medal
  • Hosts Serbia attract fifth sell-out crowd to take total finals attendance above 100,000
  • Watch highlights in the video player above

Kazakhstan became the first UEFA Futsal EURO finals debutants to claim a medal since the inaugural edition in 1996 after scoring either side of half-time to defeat hosts Serbia in front of yet another 11,161 capacity Arena Belgrade crowd.

Both teams clearly wanted bronze after losing in their first semi-finals and in the opening half Kazakhstan twice hit the upright. However, they needed a string of Higuita saves to still be level when Douglas struck just before the break from Leo's pass, squeezing the ball inside Miodrag Aksentijević's post. Serik Zhamankulov made it 2-0 with his sixth goal of the finals in the first minute of the second half, and Douglas added another.

Mladen Kocić, attempting to snatch the Golden Shoe despite a semi-final injury, was deployed as Serbia's flying keeper and Higuita promptly punted into an empty net. Some nice footwork by Douglas completed his hat-trick, though Stefan Rakić and Slobodan Rajčević pulled two back late on.

©Sportsfile

The key
Higuita was suspended against Spain, but with him back both in goal and running forward, Kazakhstan were at their best again. Douglas, who Barcelona are rumoured to be after, got the goals his tournament display merited.

Kazakhstan a major force
Not many UEFA Futsal EURO debutants start the tournament with two UEFA Futsal Cups effectively to their name, but a team boasting Kairat Almaty coach Cacau and many of his players lived up to that reputation. They knocked out holders Italy, won bronze, and might well have beaten Spain had Higuita not been suspended.

Serbian fans make history
The Serbia fans unveiled a huge banner before kick-off reading: "Vi ste za nas pobednici" – You are already winners for us – and they noisily supported their team once again as the aggregate attendance for the finals passed 100,000 for the first time in competition history. Many will be back when Serbia face Ricardinho's Portugal in the FIFA Futsal World Cup play-offs next month.

Reaction:
Cacau, Kazakhstan coach
Today was an incredible game, seven goals. My team are heroes, I am very proud. Today is the most important day of my career, congratulations to my players and my country.

Aca Kovačević, Serbia coach
We will keep on fighting to continue such great results. Serbia wants more wins in the future. Futsal EURO inspired us. Kocić was not ready for the match, but he insisted on playing. The players were tired. Anyway, Kazakhstan were the better team today.

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