The UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 lineup was completed on a night of play-off drama as Ukraine and the Netherlands squeaked through while Romania and Croatia stormed into the finals.
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The lineup for UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 was completed on a night of play-off drama as Ukraine and the Netherlands squeaked through while Romania and Croatia stormed into the finals.
Eight teams had previously booked their places in the finals in Antwerp from 28 January to 8 February: hosts Belgium, holders Spain and their fellow March main round group winners Italy, Russia, Slovenia, Portugal, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic. The finals draw is on 4 October, streamed live from Antwerp on UEFA.com, and the seedings will be confirmed on Wednesday.
Hungary 5-4 Ukraine (agg: 6-6, Ukraine win on away goals)
Ukraine are through to their seventh straight final tournament but only after being given a real scare by Hungary in Gyongyos. Hungary went ahead on away goals with Norbert Lovas's early deflected shot but Ukraine soon restored their aggregate advantage in similar fashion through Mykola Bilotserkivets. The visitors' Andriy Simka was dismissed early in the second half for two yellow cards but Bilotserkivets immediately struck for the four men.
With Ukraine back to five players, Zoltán Dróth headed Hungary back into the game but Yevgen Valyenko scored and Denys Ovsiannikov's long-range effort into an empty net left the home side needing four goals. Roared on by a vociferous home crowd, they nearly got it as with less than three minutes left Gábor Kun's 20-metre drive found the target, Ákos Harnisch's close-range tap-in and Dróth's top-corner rocket set up a thrilling last 40 seconds but two-time runners-up Ukraine hung on to win on away goals.
Netherlands 2-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina (agg: 4-4, Netherlands win on away goals)
There was just as dramatic a finish in Almere as the Netherlands qualified for the first time since 2005, the longest wait of any of the 12 finalists. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, the Netherlands edged ahead on away goals on nine minutes through Najib El Allouchi.
Eight minutes into the second half Anel Radmilović scored for the visitors, now within sight of being their country's first national team to qualify for a UEFA final tournament at any level. However, just 78 seconds from time, Mohamed Attaibi found the target and unlike in the first leg, when Bosnia and Herzegovina swiftly responded to a similarly late Dutch goal, there was no way back for the visitors.
Serbia 2-7 Romania (agg: 3-9)
The meeting of two 2012 quarter-finalists looked tight at the outset but turned into a sensational victory in Belgrade for a side under caretaker coach Nelu Stancea, previoulsy assistant to Sito Rivera who left to take over Hungary on the eve of the play-offs. Florin Matei struck early for Romania but before the break Serbia still looked the stronger side.
However, Marian Șotărcă scored late in the first half and the home team soon disintegrated. Șotărcă went on to claim four goals and Matei completed a hat-trick. Serbia's next match in this competition will also be in Belgrade, as their capital hosts the 2016 final tournament.
Croatia 4-0 Slovakia (agg: 7-1)
The only one of tonight's home teams to be leading at kick-off, Croatia eased through and will look to emulate their 2012 run, when they reached the semi-finals as hosts. Slovakia, like Bosnia and Herzegovina, were hoping for a debut finals but after Franko Jelovčić's fifth-minute goal that was never on the cards.
Even Jakov Grcić's red card late in the first half did not disrupt Croatia's progress as Jelovčić went on to complete a hat-trick and their talisman Dario Marinović also scored. This is the first time since 2001 that Croatia have passed through qualification, having gained an automatic finals place last year.