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UEFA Futsal EURO round-up: Georgia celebrate comeback, Spain start with win

Debutants Georgia came from two down to beat Azerbaijan while Spain cruised against Bosnia and Herzegovina to start Group D.

Georgia's winning scorer Thales celebrates at the final whistle
Georgia's winning scorer Thales celebrates at the final whistle SPORTSFILE

UEFA Futsal EURO debutants Georgia and record seven-time winners Spain were Saturday's victors as Group D began at Groningen's MartiniPlaza.

Georgia recovered from two down to defeat Azerbaijan but it was a tougher bow for fellow finals newcomers Bosnia and Herzegovina, who fell 5-1 to Spain. Group D continues on Wednesday in Groningen as Bosnia and Herzegovina face Georgia and Spain meet Azerbaijan. On Sunday, the second set of Group A matches are played in Amsterdam.

Georgia 3-2 Azerbaijan 

Highlights: Georgia 3-2 Azerbaijan
Highlights: Georgia 3-2 Azerbaijan

Debutants Georgia recovered from two down for a memorable victory. Azerbaijan stormed into an early 2-0 lead as Rafael Vilela scored twice in a minute, first when he picked up a loose ball after Fineo was tackled, advanced and struck in, then with a thunderbolt free-kick into the roof of the net.

Georgia responded when Elisandro danced down the left and coolly beat Emin Kurdov with a deft chip and they were level in the 27th minute when an Azerbaijan clearance was headed back by Shota Tophuria and Arhil Sebiskveradze slid to hook the ball in. The lead came five minutes later, Thales converting a penalty conceded by Rizvan Farzaliyev and Georgia held off a late Azerbaijan charge.

Elisandro, Georgia player: "It feels amazing! To score a goal and help Georgia to get their first finals win ever, it doesn't get any better than this!"

Key stat: Georgia are the first team to win in their debut finals game since Azerbaijan themselves against hosts Hungary in 2010.

Spain 5-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Highlights: Spain 5-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Highlights: Spain 5-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Spain were held 4-4 by debutants France to begin the 2018 finals but eased past another newcomer to this level tonight. Raúl Gómez struck in the third minute, turning in a Mellado centre, and Raúl Campos got the second after pouncing on a loose pass. Josip Bošković pulled one back, beating Didac Plana at the third attempt, but it was 3-1 at half-time after Sergio Lozano powered in a shot from Ortiz's corner via Raúl Gómez.

In the first minute of the second half, Ortiz – hoping for a fifth title having won this crown in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2016 – finished off a beautiful Spain move by sweeping in Lozano's pass. The captain got another late on, again set up by Lozano's pass, to confirm Spain as the first team to record 40 Futsal EURO final tournament wins.

Ortiz, Spain captain: "We played a good game overall. We knew it was going to be a difficult match, but we are happy ... I'm very happy for this milestone [of 50 Futsal EURO games], and for my career with the national team. I've always been proud to wear this shirt. I'm going to make the most of every moment of this tournament, because I'm sure it's my last. We're not hiding. We've come here to win the title and to fight in every game."

Key stat: Spain captain Ortiz became the first man to 50 Futsal EURO appearances, including qualifying, and has equalled Luis Amado's record of playing at seven final tournaments.