Debutants Georgia are into the quarter-finals but Spain must wait after a tense draw with Azerbaijan.
Article top media content
Georgia are through to the last eight on their UEFA Futsal EURO finals debut but Spain are not there yet after a 2-2 Group D draw with Azerbaijan at MartiniPlaza in Groningen.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, also in the finals for the first time, had led Georgia but lost 2-1. After the later draw, Georgia's progress and Bosnia and Herzegovina's elimination were confirmed, with Spain three points ahead of Azerbaijan in second. Group D ends on Saturday, when Georgia meet Spain in Groningen and Azerbaijan take on Bosnia and Herzegovina at Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome. The other group deciders are also on Friday and Saturday with the quarter-finals from Monday.
Against the run of play, Bosnia and Herzegovina led early as Blago Gašpar played a ball to the far post which was turned in by Nermin Kahvedžić. Having recovered from two down to win their debut match against Azerbaijan, Georgia continued to attack but their fellow finals newcomers held out until half-time, thanks in no small part to Darko Milanović, back in goal after suspension for the loss to Spain.
However, it was when Milanović made one of his regular forays out of goal that Georgia got a 25th-minute equaliser as a Bosnian pass went astray and Thales rolled the ball in from his own half. Not long afterwards, Georgia got what proved the winner when Vilian played the ball across and Petry Branco turned and shot in. The later result ensured Georgia's progress to a quarter-final on Tuesday, and the elimination of their fellow debutants.
Thales, Georgia goalscorer: “I’m so happy with this second win! It is a big challenge for Georgia and we worked so hard to get here. I’m lost for words. Now we need to rest and start thinking about our next match. These players have a lot of belief in themselves and this is the result of all our hard work. We spent four or five days thinking and working on this match. We watched videos of our opponents and we couldn’t have been better prepared."
Key stat: Georgia are the first debutants to win their opening two games since Azerbaijan in 2010.
Azerbaijan knew they could not afford defeat and after soaking up pressure early on, led when Rafael Vilela fired the ball in from the right and Sergio Lozano turned it into his own net under pressure from Isa Atayev. Spain swiftly levelled, Ortiz's corner picking out the run of Raúl Gómez who powered a strike into the roof of the net. However, it was 2-1 at the break after Vassoura sent Atayev clear to shoot past Didac Plana.
Spain had not lost over 40 minutes in a Futsal EURO match since a group loss to Italy in 2005 (when they had already qualified) and they were not about to let that run end without a fight. Mellado and Cecilio both hit the woodwork before Lozano's powerful drive made it 2-2. There was a desperate push by Azerbaijan to restore their advantage but they now need not only to defeat Bosnia and Herzegovina but also for Georgia to beat Spain to have any chance of pipping the seven-time champions on goal difference.
Fede Vidal, Spain coach: "We knew it was going to be a very difficult match, which was going to be decided by details. We are left with a bittersweet taste, because in the second half we did everything we had to do, and we lacked a bit of luck. In the first half we didn't play the way we wanted to play. We let Azerbaijan take advantage of some of our mistakes."
Vassoura, Azerbaijan player: “Our team are always very focused in each match and I think we are lacking a bit of luck in the final minutes of our games here at the tournament as we always concede a goal which eventually punishes us. But I think our team tonight deserves all the credit for the way we played against one the best teams in the world."
Key stat: Azerbaijan avoided defeat againt Spain for the first time in their six meetings.