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UEFA.com's pick of UEFA Futsal EURO 2012

Published: Sunday 12 February 2012, 20.20CET
Following the conclusion of the eighth UEFA European Futsal Championship, UEFA.com's team of reporters select their most memorable moments from the tournament in Split and Zagreb.
by UEFA.com reporting team
from Zagreb & Split
UEFA.com's pick of UEFA Futsal EURO 2012
No fans have turned out in numbers for a European futsal event like the Croatians ©Sportsfile
 

Photos

Published: Sunday 12 February 2012, 20.20CET

UEFA.com's pick of UEFA Futsal EURO 2012

Following the conclusion of the eighth UEFA European Futsal Championship, UEFA.com's team of reporters select their most memorable moments from the tournament in Split and Zagreb.

Gonzalo Aguado: Spain's dramatic triumph
For me the best moment of the tournament was certainly Spain's equaliser 34 seconds from the end of the final against Russia. At 1-0 down the five-time champions looked set for their first defeat in a competitive match, other than on penalties, since 2005. And then came the goal by Sergio Lozano, which forced extra time, and the rest was according to the script: a 3-1 win, and a sixth title.

Francesco Corda: Stefano Mammarella, best in the world
Futsalplanet.com elected him the best goalkeeper in the world in 2011 after helping ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 to the UEFA Futsal Cup. At UEFA Futsal EURO 2012, Mammarella gave the umpteenth justification of this choice. If Ivo Jukić's saves set Croatian fans on fire, those of Italy's No1 dragged Roberto Menichelli's squad to third place ahead of the hosts.

He capped that in the play-off with a late clinching goal of his own. He had been the key man in all the other games, a brilliant save from a deflected İsmail Çelen shot against Turkey, the one to deny Paulinho in the quarter-final with Portugal and keeping Spain to just one in the semi-final loss. After Gianfranco 'Ciccio' Angelini and Alexandre Feller, the Azzurri goal is still in good hands.

Wayne Harrison: Ivo Jukić's performance against Ukraine
The noise which accompanied Croatia's quarter-final shoot-out victory against Ukraine and Jukić's role in it was truly unforgettable. The Croatia captain and goalkeeper helped his team reach the knockout stage for the first time with some vital saves in the group phase; in the last eight he lifted his fame to new heights by stopping three of Ukraine's four penalties. That it happened in the city where he plays his club futsal, for MNK Split, made it all the more sweet. A two-page spread on his heroics in sports daily sportske novosti will forever be a nice reminder of a special night at Spaladium Arena.

Elvir Islamović: The Croatian crowds
Futsal is far from the most popular sport in Croatia, so we did not know what to expect from demanding but always fanatical home fans. But from the first day the headline news was "the atmosphere". Not only was it spectacular but also record-breaking as three of Croatia's first four games eclipsed the tournament-best crowd, 14,300 coming to Arena Zagreb for the semi-final with Italy.

But it was not just the home team − the fact that at every other match at EURO there were at least a few thousand fans looking for quality futsal impressed me even more. So, yes, futsal is not the most popular sport in Croatia, but Croatia is a sporting country and people can recognise quality. And this was top quality.

Dmitri Mamykin: Sergei Abramov's bicycle kick against Turkey
It is rare that a player tries an overhead kick in football and even more so in futsal. However, that did not stop Russia forward Abramov from executing such an acrobatic manoeuvre in the finalists' 5-0 Group C victory against Turkey.

A long ball was destined to go nowhere, but to the astonishment of the crowd at Spaladium Arena the 21-year-old MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg striker produced an effort Marco van Basten would be proud of. Mahmut Akbaş spoiled the fun by making a save, so Abramov had another go in the next match against Italy. He finally opened his goalscoring account at the finals versus Croatia in the last four, albeit by more conventional means − a close-range a tap-in.

Paul Saffer: Only 16 goals in it
I'm going to cheat and pick two very different thrillers. The first was Serbia's 9-8 group elimination of Azerbaijan, who scored the fastest-ever EURO goal on eight seconds through Felipe but lost the highest-scoring match in the tournament's history despite leading four times. That was exhausting but just as gripping was Spain's 1-0 semi-final win against Italy, not gained through negative tactics but flawless defending and by pressing their opponents throughout. It was proof the new generation could be as dominant as the old.

Nuno Tavares: Arnaldo Pereira's special day
Portugal eventually bowed out in the quarter-finals following a 3-1 defeat by Italy, but before that Arnaldo had time to celebrate his 150th cap for his country in remarkable fashion. The captain recovered from a long-term injury in time to be present at the finals in Croatia and celebrated his century-and-a-half for Portugal with one of the goals of the tournament, his thunderous right-foot strike putting his team on track for a 2-1 win against Serbia and the top of Group D. Disappointment was just around the corner for Arnaldo and his team-mates but the time was to celebrate.

Last updated: 12/02/12 20.25CET

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