Kazakhstan 5-2 Italy The finals debutants knocked out the holders but will be without goalkeeper Higuita for their last-four tie with Spain on Thursday.
Article top media content
- Kazakhstan's flawless first half ensures the finals debutants knock out the holders
- Twice Italy pull one back; twice Kazakhstan score immediately
- Kazakhstan goalkeeper Higuita suspended for semi-final
- Click on the video player above for highlights
- Thursday semi-final: Spain v Kazakhstan (21.00)
UEFA Futsal EURO finals debutants Kazakhstan ended the reign of holders Italy to set up a last-four encounter with Spain, for which Cacau's side will be without inspirational, forward-running goalkeeper Higuita due to suspension.
Italy were on top early on but seven minutes in Higuita was pushed forward and the balance of possession changed. Late in the half Dinmukhambet Suleimenov's kick-in was fired in from distance by Leo before Serik Zhamankulov then scrambled home after hitting a post. Early in the second half Fortino turned in Marco Ercolessi's perfect assist, but 30 seconds later Chingiz Yesenamanov intercepted an Italy pass in the Azzurri half and smashed in.
Mauro Canal pulled one back with less than four minutes left, but six seconds after the restart, Yesenamanov hit a post and Dauren Nurgozhin tucked in the rebound. Yesenamanov was later injured but Leo shot into an empty net from his own half in the last seconds and Kazakhstan held on for one of the competition's most memorable upsets.
Kazakhstan's use of their goalkeeper as an outfield player, just as coach Cacau does for UEFA Futsal Cup holders Kairat Almaty, killed Italy's game in the first half. They never could quite recover.
Kazakhstan's Higuita headache
Higuita's booking for delaying the game means he will not face Spain; Kazakhstan will not only be without their No1 goalkeeper, but their whole tactical game will have to change. Cacau has less than 48 hours to work out how.
Italy will recover
Having worked so hard to become champions in 2014, and looked so impressive in the group stage in Belgrade, Italy would probably have expected to progress to play Spain. As it is, their team, in their late 20s and early 30s, are still good for another UEFA Futsal EURO or two, not to mention this autumn's FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia.
Cacau, Kazakhstan coach
They say I'm a lucky man but I think it is down to hard work. Behind Cacau there is my assistant and other coaches, my fitness trainer and goalkeeper coach, who trains Higuita. And that's why Kazakhstan are so strong. Today we showed to the world that Kazakhstan know how to play five v four and also know how to defend.
I say our win is a deserved win. Italy were champions of Europe, a very good team with a very good coach and a very good league – much better than Kazakhstan's. But we have something no one can deny us – heart. We are not afraid to lose. We always believe in ourselves and my players are heroes today. Seven or eight players played 40 minutes, now they are really tired but tomorrow we are ready to work again.
We will play Spain without Higuita and of course he is one of our important players. But we can also play five against four without him! Spain are the best team in the world, not only Europe. I have a lot of friends from Spain and played there for a long time. Even without Higuita we want to show that futsal in Kazakhstan is growing every day.
Roberto Menichelli, Italy coach
I have to congratulate Kazakhstan first of all. As I said before, it was a unique match for us. We were not able to play as we did in the group games. From a psychological point of view we felt too much pressure in this game, and then we tired and lost strength. I think Kazakhstan were fresher than us as they had two extra days of rest.
To be honest I have to say we had a good second half, and it's simple – the mistakes were when we pulled it back to one goal difference, it lasted only seconds. I want to thank my players, though, as they gave all they could to get us back into the game.