Gonçalo Alves converted the spot-kick that took Portugal into their maiden final and told uefa.com: "Without vanity I can honestly say I was pretty calm." Defeated Azerbaijan were left cursing their luck.
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Gonçalo Alves converted the penalty that took Portugal into their first UEFA European Futsal Championship final and told uefa.com: "Without any kind of vanity I can honestly say I was pretty calm."
In the 2007 semi-finals in Porto, Gonçalo gave Portugal the lead against Spain but his side were to lose on spot-kicks. This time against Azerbaijan in Debrecen, Portugal twice came from behind to draw 3-3 and then won the shoot-out 5-3, with Gonçalo's last effort ensuring a rematch with Spain in Saturday's final.
"Without any kind of vanity I can honestly say I was pretty calm and confident before taking my penalty," Gonçalo said. "I was paying attention to the penalties before mine and I saw that their goalkeeper always picked a side before our player shot. I just waited to see where he was going and than shot. Now we will enjoy this moment and then think about the final. But we will play to win, that's for sure."
Portugal beat Serbia 5-1 in the quarter-finals but competition debutants Azerbaijan proved much tougher, just as they did when the sides' opening qualifier finished 3-3 in March. "They made our task very hard but I think that we deserved to reach the final," Gonçalo added. "It was a completely different game from the one against Serbia. Azerbaijan have a slower rhythm and we had to be more rational in the way we approached the match. They did surprise us when they fielded a flying goalkeeper after just five minutes in what was a very intelligent move from their coach. They managed to score a goal but we rallied back and in the end we were more effective in the penalty shoot-out."
'Not a defeat'
The goalkeeper Gonçalo beat to win the game, Andrey Tveryankin, was the hero in the last-eight shoot-out against Ukraine, saving twice, but the worm turned this time. "It seems we have had to pay for the penalties victory in the quarter-finals," he said. "I think the team took this result in the right way. This is not a defeat, I even think we played better. Possibly we lacked experience at this top level, otherwise we would not have made mistakes like we did when Portugal scored their goals. Now we have to congratulate them on their victory."
It could have been so different had they held their early lead, a result of coach Alesio's clever idea to use Biro Jade as a flying goalkeeper in the fourth minute. Vitaliy Borisov explained: "This was a pre-planned thing for the semi-final. If we had kicked-off, we would have subbed Tveryankin for Biro right away. But as the Portuguese were kicking-off, we had to first recover the ball and then get in Biro, who was hiding away on the bench." It was in vain, however. "Lady Luck was on Portugal's side tonight," Borisov rued.