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Pula strike sends Russia past Serbia

Russia 2-1 Serbia
Pula's goal six minutes from time sent Russia through to the semi-finals and denied Serbia, who had led, a first appearance in the last four.

Pula (left) celebrates at full time with fellow goalscorer Aleksandr Fukin
Pula (left) celebrates at full time with fellow goalscorer Aleksandr Fukin ©Sportsfile

Pula landed the decisive blow as Russia recovered from a goal down to defeat Serbia and book a UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 semi-final date with Croatia.

Following a goalless first half, Vladimir Milosavac broke the deadlock five minutes after the restart. The lead was short-lived, though, as Aleksandr Fukin rifled in a leveller which paved the way for Pula to win a tight encounter and set up a last-four tie against the hosts in Zagreb at 18.30CET on Thursday.

Recalled between the posts, Russia's Sergei Zuev did well to tip behind a drive from Mladen Kocić seven minutes in. Prior to that, Serbia were fortunate to escape when Fukin curled a shot wide after the ball had reached him following a free-kick which initially led to Miodrag Aksentijević blocking from Pula.

Serbia's four-goal top scorer at the finals, Vidan Bojović, started on the bench, but when he did get on he soon suffered a heavy fall that limited his participation for much of the first half. Just before his return, Slobodan Rajčević executed a goal-saving tackle on the marauding Cirilo as he seemed certain to score.

Konstantin Maevski rattled the crossbar at the end of a first period which threatened to lift off without ever doing so, while the second started with Aksentijević denying Fukin. Gradually the 1999 winners started to push Serbia back but, seconds after Sergei Abramov rattled a post, Milosavac struck.

Seizing on Konstantin Maevski's loose pass across the face of goal, Slobodan Rajčević teed up his team-mate for an easy finish. The lead did not last, though. Given possession by Nikolai Pereverzev, Fukin restored parity which a ferocious shot in off the crossbar.

Pula completed the comeback when, running on to Cirilo's lay-off, he scored at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked. Kocić, deployed as flying goalkeeper, hit the bar in a late scare for Russia.

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