UEFA Futsal EURO round-up: Spain, Slovakia through
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Spain and Slovakia claimed the last two quarter-final slots as the group stage ended with Croatia, Poland and Azerbaijan falling.
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Spain and Slovakia completed the UEFA Futsal EURO 2022 quarter-final line-up as Groups C and D concluded.
Spain ensured their bid for an eighth title continued as they beat already-qualified Georgia 8-0 in Groningen to top Group D, meaning Azerbaijan's 4-2 defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Amsterdam was in vain. Debutants Slovakia defeated Croatia 5-3 in Groningen to earn second place in Group C behind Russia, who ended Poland's hopes in Amsterdam with a 5-1 win.
The quarter-finals begin on Monday in Amsterdam when holders Portugal play Finland and Kazakhstan meet Ukraine. The following day Russia face Georgia and Spain meet Slovakia.
Group C Live now
Slovakia 5-3 Croatia
Martin Směřička and Tomáš Drahovský both struck twice to keep Slovakia's campaign going as they got the win they needed and Poland were defeated. Směřička nabbed the opener with a tight finish past goalkeeper Žarko Luketin from Peter Kozár's through ball. Croatia, who knew a draw would be enough, levelled when Kristijan Postružin broke up play in midfield before tapping into the empty net. Seconds before the break, Slovakia skipper Kozár restored the lead when he powered home a sweetly-struck volley after a quickly-taken Drahovský kick-in.
Drahovský was in fine form after the interval, netting with a fierce drive just six seconds after the restart and placing a cool penalty past Zoran Primić. Croatia threatened a comeback and reduced the deficit via Matej Horvat's neat effort from an acute angle and Franco Jelovčić's drilled shot late on, but had left themselves with too much work to do.
Tomáš Drahovský, Slovakia player: "We know that this is our first European Championship, and we said before the match that we wanted to continue making history and get to the quarter-finals. And we are already there. We all know that the team comes first and I always want to help, not only with goals but with my style of play. We fought hard and I think we wanted to win more than Croatia. We were more determined. Our goalkeeper stopped almost everything and helped us in the difficult moments."
Franco Jelovčić, Croatia captain: "It's difficult for us. We started the game well, better than them. We had a few chances but we didn't take them. Then they took the lead and I think overall they were better than us. We lacked a bit of luck. We have to improve. It's difficult to talk about now but at least we've been in this tournament. On a scale of one to ten, I give us a three for this European Championship."
Key stat: Slovakia are the third debutants to earn a quarter-final place here, after Finland and Georgia. Before these finals only two newcomers had ever got past a group stage: Azerbaijan in 2010 and Kazakhstan in 2016.
Russia 5-1 Poland
Russia were already confirmed in first place before kick-off but were keen to keep momentum going, and led in the fifth minute when Anton Sokolov picked up the ball about ten metres out from Sergei Abramov's incisive pass, turned his man and shot in. Russia doubled their lead on the quarter-hour as Artem Antoshkin bustled past Mikołaj Zastawnik down the right and sent in a cross which Daniil Davydov turned in on the line.
But Poland, who knew a win could take them through should Slovakia also triumph, had hope just before the break when Sebastian Leszczak converted the first ten-metre penalty of the finals. However, early in the second half, Robinho's improvised back-heeled pass set up Ivan Chishkala to make it 3-1. Chishkala then slid in Antoshkin's pass and Ivan Milovanov finished off a move begun by Dmitri Putilov's throw to complete an almost flawless group campaign.
Daniil Davydov, Russia player: "We managed to win our third match in a row, so this is a very positive result. At the same time the most difficult and interesting challenges are still to come. I barely did anything when scoring. I just tried to be there on the far post and the ball just hit me."
Błażej Korczyński, Poland coach: "Luck was not on our side. Russia are a very good team and we knew we had to keep them out at the back, then if we have three chances we must score two goals. We didn't do this. Maybe 5-1 was a bit much. We lost everything in the first match when we should have beaten Croatia."
Key stat: Poland depart their third final tournament without a win after 2001 and 2018.
Group D Live now
Georgia 0-8 Spain
Seven-time champions Spain hit menacing form to win Group D with a ruthless display that ensured debutants Georgia, who had already qualifed for the knockout stage, dropped points for the first time at the finals.
In a shot-happy first half, Borja finished a dazzling team move with a clinical ninth-minute strike before Sergio Lozano lashed in a fierce penalty and Chino rifled a third. With Georgia's first-choice goalkeeper Zviad Kupatadze forced out through injury at the interval, Spain ran riot in the second half. Solano's skilful turn and shot and a composed finish from Cecilio Morales came either side of an Irakli Todua own goal, and Adolfo slotted the seventh from a defence-splitting Camacho Pérez pass. Giorgi Ghavtadze also turned the ball into his own net with 71 seconds remaining.
Spain captain Ortiz had extra reason to celebrate as he made a record 52nd Futsal EURO appearance (including qualifying). He is now one behind Luis Amado's finals appearances record of 33 too.
Chaguinha, Georgia player: "It's hard to explain a defeat like this one. We were prepared and knew Spain would give it everything in order to get the result they needed but we didn't expect it to be this hard. I think we were too relaxed but maybe it was good to endure a match like this because we won't make the same mistake in the quarter-finals. I don't think this result will affect us psychologically because many of our players have a lot of experience at the highest level."
Federico Vidal, Spain coach: "We were good in all aspects and the result opened up. I think it was a great game from everyone. You could see that we were playing for our lives and that's the way it's going to be from now on, so we hope that this will be the constant line. We went for the win from the start and we didn't feel the pressure. We dominated very well. Slovakia is going to be a very tough match. There are no favourites in the tournament or in the matches. If we want to win, we have to play a great match."
Key stat: Spain have made it through the group stage for the 20th major tournament in a row. The only time they haven't was the inaugural 1989 FIFA Futsal World Cup – in the Netherlands.
Azerbaijan 4-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina's debut finals campaign was going to end today whatever happened but they began very brightly, so it was against the run of pay that Bolinha gave Azerbaijan the lead with an excellent solo run and shot into the top corner. Eduardo got the second after Rafael Vilela won the ball on the Azerbaijan right. Anel Radmilović pulled one back from the penalty shot after Gallo tripped Marijo Aladžić.
Spain's runaway victory against Georgia meant that Azerbaijan, who began with only 11 players and lost Isa Atayev to injury, knew their slim qualification chances were gone whatever the result. But their energy levels even increased in the second half, played out in a great atmosphere at Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome. Felipinho was sent off with ten minutes left, and the Dragons made the extra man count as Nermin Kahvedžić turned in Bilal Jelić's centre. Vilela's thumping finish soon restored Azerbaijan's lead and they sealed their sole win in the section thanks to Gallo's last-gasp clincher.
Alesio, Azerbaijan coach: "Despite all the problems we had during this tournament, this win today is a big success for us. I want to congratulate everyone in our team, especially the ones not with us, on this victory. Of course we wanted to qualify, but a victory is a victory! Rizvan Farzaliyev is the best player I have worked with in my entire life. He should be an example for young Azerbaijani players if they want to be good players in the future."
Ivo Krezo, Bosnia and Herzegovina coach: "I want to congratulate Azerbaijan on the win but also my players on their efforts today. They really left their hearts on the pitch. We had better chances but our opponents scored after our mistakes and soon we were up to four fouls so we couldn't play as aggressively as we planned. We are really happy we participated in this championship. We are a small country but are improving the level of our futsal. I hope it will become normal for us to participate in big competitions."
Key stat: Rizvan Farzaliyev made his 47th Futsal EURO appearance for Azerbaijan, including qualifiers, moving equal with long-time Spain goalkeeper Luis Amado. Only one player has more: the aforementioned Ortiz.
Road to the final: all games at Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome
Monday 31 January:
Portugal vs Finland (17:00)
Kazakhstan vs Ukraine (20:00)
Tuesday 1 February:
Russia vs Georgia (17:00)
Spain vs Slovakia (20:00)
Friday 4 February:
SF1: Portugal/Finland vs Spain/Slovakia (KO tbc, Amsterdam)
SF2: Kazakhstan/Ukraine vs Russia/Georgia (KO tbc: Amsterdam)
Sunday 6 February:
Third-place match (14:30, Amsterdam)
Final (17:30 Amsterdam)
All kick-offs CET