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Czech Republic turn tables for third place

Azerbaijan 3-5 Czech Republic
The Czech Republic claimed third place with an entertaining victory against Azerbaijan, who had beaten their opponents 6-1 in Group A last week.

Zdenek Sláma (No13) is congratulated on bringing the Czech Republic level at 2-2
Zdenek Sláma (No13) is congratulated on bringing the Czech Republic level at 2-2 ©Sportsfile

The Czech Republic claimed third place in the UEFA European Futsal Championship with an entertaining victory against Azerbaijan in Debrecen.

Debutants pipped
Having shared third position in 2003, the Czech Republic took it outright after scoring early but then having to overcome a half-time deficit to defeat a side who beat them 6-1 in the group stage nine days ago. Still, Azerbaijan's finals run was the best showing by debutants since the inaugural 1996 European futsal tournament.

Early goal
Azerbaijan began with only ten men as Alves had a knee injury and five-goal top scorer Biro Jade was suspended and the Czech Republic struck after 27 seconds, goalkeeper Libor Gerčák's long throw finding Martín Dlouhý on the left to cross for Michal Belej to turn the ball in. It was already proving an open game and in the eighth minute Vitaliy Borisov broke down the left and his strike from a narrow angle went in through the legs of Gerčák.

Serjão strikes
At the other end 42-year-old goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin superbly denied Lukáš Rešetár, while Gerčák made a double save from Namig Mammadkarimov, who hit the post with his third try. However, crowd favourite Serjão outdid Gerčák late in the half with a solo run and powerful shot to edge Azerbaijan ahead.

Czech comeback
Serjão started the second half by rattling the crossbar from a tight angle, but soon Zdenek Sláma equalised, advancing from deep and shooting from distance. The Czechs moved ahead when Martín Dlouhý's effort was deflected in by Rizvan Farzaliyev and Jiří Novotný turned in Jan Janovský's cross. Rajab Farajzadeh pulled one back with less than three minutes left but as Azerbaijan pushed for an equasliser with Thiago as flying goalkeeper, Marek Kopecký rolled the ball into an empty net from defence.