Azerbaijan pip Czechs by odd goal in 11
Friday, 5 February 2016
Azerbaijan 6-5 Czech Republic
Rafael was the 11th different scorer with 40 seconds to go to give Azerbaijan an invaluable win in Group D.
Article top media content
- Eleven different scorers as Rafael's last-minute strike decides game
- Azerbaijan well-placed in Group D despite opening 3-0 loss to holders Italy
- The Czechs can only pip Azerbaijan if they beat Italy on Sunday at 21.00CET
- Watch highlights in the video player above
A last-minute winner from Rafael gave Azerbaijan a sensational win that leaves them well-placed to reach the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 quarter-finals after having played both their Group D games.
Azerbaijan lost 9-8 to Serbia in the 2012 finals and beat Slovenia 7-6 two years ago, and a repeat was on the cards as they led 4-3 at half-time, Edu restoring their lead just before the break after the Czech Republic had deservedly recovered from 2-0 and 3-1 down. The second half was in much the same fashion as the Czechs equalised, fell behind again, and then levelled again. But with 40 seconds left Rafael smashed in for Azerbaijan as the use of Vitaliy Borisov as flying goalkeeper paid off.
The shot count was 65-43 to the Czech Republic, but on target was 21-18 to Azerbaijan. It could have gone either way but tellingly, Azerbaijan were never behind and were rewarded for their late gamble in deploying Borisov.
Much to praise for Czechs
The 12th and last team to start their campaign, the Czech Republic's passing and pressing game impressed. They will need to be at their very best on Sunday against Italy however to avoid a third straight group exit.
Azerbaijan will only be knocked out if the Czech Republic beat Italy by a margin of between one or four goals. Any Czech win takes them through, and the Azzurri can afford anything other than a loss by a margin of five.
Faustino Perez, Azerbaijan coach
It was a very strange match. To tell you the truth I didn't expect a game like this one. The first match in a tournament like the EURO is always the most difficult one because everything is new and you don't really know what to expect. We played well in that match against Italy and I really thought that tonight the Czech Republic would have more problems to adapt as it was their first match and the second for us. We were not able to play at our best, as we lacked ideas and we were slow. We missed too many passes and gave the ball away too many times. I don't know what happened to my team today but the most important thing is that we won.
We played well against Italy but we lost and we played badly tonight but we won. That's futsal. We have to wait until Sunday to see if we qualify and I hope we will be able to celebrate our place in the quarter-finals.
Tomáš Neumann, Czech Republic coach
This was a great game, for both sides. But our opponents are happy in the end. We made a lot of mistakes in the match and when we make so many mistakes we cannot win. We had chances to decide the matchm, especially two minutes to go when Michal Kovács was through, that was a great chance we had to take. But we played very well generally but you make a mistake and your opponents score.