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Ricardinho brilliance means Portugal are through

Slovenia 2-6 Portugal
Ricardinho's hat-trick including a sly back-heel takes Portugal and Serbia through and eliminates Slovenia.

Watch Ricardinho's dazzling hat-trick
  • Three pieces of Ricardinho magic help Portugal into quarter-finals with hosts Serbia
  • Slovenia out after second defeat despite excellent Kristjan Čujec opener
  • Watch highlights on the video player above
  • Saturday: Portugal v Serbia (21.00CET) to decide first place

Ricardinho lived up to his hype with a hat-trick of brilliance to take Portugal into the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 quarter-finals with hosts Serbia, eliminating spirited Slovenia.

The first half burst into life with Kristjan Čujec's superb individual goal only for Fábio Cecílio to quickly volley an equaliser. Ricardinho's brilliant back-heel made it 2-1, his 100th goal for Portugal, but the fouls were mounting up and although a Slovenia ten-metre penalty was saved by the face of Vítor Hugo, Gašper Vrhovec – a pre-match doubt with wisdom tooth pain – smashed in the resulting corner from distance.

Slovenia had their moments in the second half but after Ricardinho's thunderbolt free-kick they were always struggling to respond. Pedro Cary turned in a corner before Ricardinho won the ball in midfield and rolled it in for the first hat-trick of the tournament. Slovenia lost Vrhovec to a late red card and Fábio Cecílio soon had his second to move Portugal ahead of Serbia on goals scored.

Slovenia played well, but are out
Slovenia played well, but are out©Sportsfile

The key
Ricardinho is in his fourth UEFA Futsal EURO and desperate to win one. His first was the pick of his goals and his inspiration was ultimately too much for Slovenia.

The spectacle's the thing
Wednesday's games were fairly cautious with the use of the flying goalkeeper by both underdogs to pin back their opponents and maintain possession. This match, though, was full of flowing futsal and skills, Čujec's superb opener topped by Ricardinho living up to his nickname of 'the Magician'.

Saturday's game still matters
Portugal and Serbia know they will play quarter-finals on Monday but that does not mean they will go easy against each other in front of another sell-out crowd. First place in the group means avoiding the winners of Group B, tipped to be Spain; Portugal only need a draw thanks to their late goal tonight.

The star of the show
The star of the show©Sportsfile

Jorge Braz, Portugal coach

When we play comfortably and enjoy what we do, our futsal starts appearing. That was the key point and that's what I told them at half-time. I only come here [to a finals] every two years and I want to enjoy them, hopefully all five matches. In a fantastic venue and atmosphere. You have to be comfortable in a EURO finals and we will be even more so on Saturday. When our team understood that, the goals started appearing.

Andrej Dobovičnik, Slovenia coach:
It's not nice being the first team out of the tournament and of course that we did not achieve our goals for this EURO. If you can rotate more then six players, it's a bit easier. But for a team like Slovenia this is not the case. Our bench is not long enough and it is difficult to play with same players two very intense matches. But we have proved against Portugal that we can play equally against the best teams here even though  Slovenia are an almost full amateur squad. We must not regret these two defeats, I've congratulated boys for their performance.