Russia beat Croatia 4-0 to secure first place in Group C as debutants Slovakia drew 2-2 with Poland.
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Russia are the first team through to the UEFA Futsal EURO 2022 quarter-finals after a 4-0 victory against Croatia coupled with Slovakia's 2-2 draw against Poland confirmed the 1999 champions as Group C winners.
Both Slovakia and Poland are up to one point, two behind Croatia. Slovakia face Croatia on Saturday at Groningen's MartiniPlaza while Poland must beat Russia in Amsterdam the same day for any chance of progress. On Wednesday, meanwhile, the second set of matches conclude with two Group D fixtures in Groningen.
Vedran Matošević was sent off in the second minute and Russia made the most of the man advantage as their hat-trick scorer against Slovakia, Artem Antoshkin, struck from distance. Even against five players, Russia remained on top; recent call-up Paulinho turned Kristian Čekol and shot past Žarko Luketin to double the lead.
Just before the break there was a swift one-two between Daniil Davydov and Ivan Chishkala, who chipped the ball in for Russia's third. The fourth arrived early in the second half as Luketin was tackled by Artem Niyazov and Antoshkin half-volleyed into the empty net. The later result ensured Russia's progress to face the Group D runners-up here next Tuesday.
Ivan Chishkala, Russia player: "We played really well tonight, limiting our opponents to very few chances. At the same time we managed to create lots of chances, so I am really satisfied with our performance ... I've spoken to Robinho [injured during the game]; he seems to be OK, but still requires medical examination. We want him to be in good health, as obviously he is a very important player for us."
Key stat: Russia kept the first finals clean sheet since their own 1-0 defeat of Kazakhstan for third place in 2018.
Poland knew Russia's win meant that defeat would end their hopes but led early when Michał Kubik played a kick-in on the right back to Tomasz Kriezel, who thumped a rasping right-footed drive from distance into the roof of the net. Slovakia's star man Tomáš Drahovský hit a post and, although frustrated before half-time, they equalised early in the second period when a kick-in was played to Poland-based Patrik Zaťovič and his cross was touched in by Matúš Ševčík.
Drahovský then showed the deadly eye for goal that has lit up the Spanish league for Santa Coloma, showing neat footwork on the left before striking inside the far post. Poland levelled through Patryk Hoły after Sebastian Grubalski played Sebastian Wojciechowski in to cross. Both teams remain in contention but only a first-ever finals win for either on Saturday would provide hope of a quarter-final slot ahead of Croatia.
Błażej Korczyński, Poland coach: “We needed a cold heart, as at 1-0 we had to stay cool and we had several chances to get another. But we didn’t do that and we made a big mistake for the equaliser. After that we started to play very fast and we had chances but we need our finishing to improve. We are not the biggest team in this EURO, against Russia maybe we will have three, four of five big chances and we must take them – if we don’t, we have a problem.”
Tomáš Drahovský, Slovakia scorer: "It was a really hard game. We know Poland would be strong as their league and players are strong, so we wanted to play smartly to stay in the game and think about how to do things cleverly to win the game – and we were very near. I am really happy about the goal, it’s my first in a EURO and had we not conceded again it would have been the winner. So I am happy about that and for this point and we are looking forward to the last game as it is really important.”
Key stat: Slovakia secured their first-ever finals point in their second fixture.