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Spain down Kazakhstan to set up Russia final

Spain 5-3 Kazakhstan
Spain came from behind to reach Saturday's final against Russia despite a late Kazakhstan recovery.

Watch Spain survive Kazakhstan fightback
  • Spain come from behind to reach final against Russia
  • Finals debutants Kazakhstan so nearly recover in absence of Higuita
  • Watch highlights in the video player above
  • Saturday: Serbia v Kazakhstan (third place, 18.30CET), Russia v Spain (final, 21.00CET)

Spain ended the hopes of finals debutants Kazakhstan to set up a decider with the team that ended their nine-year reign in 2014, Russia.

Deprived of their most important player, forward-running goalkeeper Higuita, through suspension, as well as missing injured Chingiz Yesenamanov, Kazakhstan were up against it taking on a team with 25 straight wins since their 2014 extra-time semi-final loss to Russia. However, Aleksandr Dovgan gave Kazakhstan a shock lead after Douglas's pass.

Spain soon responded, Miguelín's shot only parried by Higuita's deputy Grigori Shamro and Bebe hitting in the rebound. Miguelín scored himself and before half-time Ortiz's clever ball set up Raúl Campos for a third. Mikhail Pershin had been Kazakhstan's flying goalkeeper from the start as Cacau stuck with his five v four tactics, but early in the second half Alex chipped into an empty net after Miguelín won the ball in midfield.

Leo, having a go as flying goalkeeper, pulled one back and Serik Zhamankulov set up a thrilling last three minutes but Raúl Campos responded to snuff out the comeback.

The third goal for Spain
The third goal for Spain©Sportsfile

The key
Higuita has been pivotal to Kazakhstan and Kairat Almaty's successes under Cacau, both with his goalkeeping and his ability to play outfield and ensure long stretches of posession. Despite their brief lead, Kazakhstan never looked quite the same team without him.

Spain on course
Despite trailing for the only time in this tournament, including qualifying, Spain were definitely the better team and now have the chance to avenge that loss to Russia. There is no doubt they have been the outstanding team in Belgrade.

Kazakhstan fine debutants
With a full-strength team, Kazakhstan might have emulated the feats of two-time UEFA Futsal Cup winners Kairat, who will challenge for a third success in Europe's top club futsal tournament in Spain this April. As it was, the task was too much for them tonight but under Cacau are clearly now a major force, as proved by them so nearly pulling the game around.

Kazakhstan so nearly recovered
Kazakhstan so nearly recovered©Getty Images

José Venancio López, Spain coach
I'd like to congratulate Kazakhstan not only for making the semi-finals but because they were in this game until the very last minute. They were great opponents. Things been difficult for us but I want to congratulate my players. They have done a really great job. A few days ago it seemed it would be difficult to even make the semis [with all Spain's injuries] but here we are in the final. They are really big players.

We have two days to study Russia. We will prepare for them the best we can. Russia have some incredible players, they play in one of the best leagues in the world, just like ours. The most important thing is it will be a great final, so enjoy it!

Cacau, Kazakhstan coach
In the opening minutes we did really well, getting the goal. Overall we played a great game but Spain deserved to win. We were taking on the best team there is, we did our best and made Kazakhstan proud. Before the game I told my players that they had to believe as we had beaten Italy and to give their best as Higuita would be missed but that could not be used as an excuse as get had other great players, and I am proud of them today. We also missed Yesenamanov too due to the injury that has ruled him out of the finals as we do not have a big squad.

Leo, Kazakhstan
We almost did it. We played with all our heart and belief even knowing that our mission would be very tough as we were without Higuita and Yesenamanov. We still opted to play five against four for a long time mainly to keep possession and to rest as we had few players to use. We played well, especially in the dying moments of the match, when we scored two goals and could even have scored a third. They managed to score a fifth goal and that moment ended our hope. Now we have to raise our heads and to start thinking about Serbia.