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European first for Ekaterinburg

MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg may not be the most famous name in UEFA competition but in 2007/08 they achieved something unique.

Ekaterinburg lift the trophy
Ekaterinburg lift the trophy ©Sportsfile

MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg may not be the most famous name in UEFA competition but in 2007/08 they achieved something unique. Having never won their domestic league, they beat ElPozo Murcia FS on penalties in Moscow to lift the UEFA Futsal Cup and be crowned European champions.

Ekaterinburg were only making their competition debut because Russian champions MFK Dinamo Moskva lifted the trophy the previous year. But the newcomers won their three Elite round games to make the final four in the Russian capital. Once there, they defeated Kairat Almaty 4-1 with a superb counterattacking display and then trailed Murcia three times in the second half only to hold them 4-4 and prevail 3-2 on penalties. Russia goalkeeper Sergei Zuev saved three spot-kicks for Ekaterinburg and told uefa.com: "This victory is incomparable. We had only won the Russian Cup before but a European cup is something completely different. I think fans will be greeting us at the airport because this is the first time in the club's history."

What made their victory even more impressive is that Ekaterinburg, based nearly 1,700km east of Moscow, rely on homegrown stars, in contrast to the Brazilian talent imported by Dinamo. The capital side were to finish well ahead of Viz-Sinara in the Russian Super League but the hosts had their run of three straight finals ended before beating Kairat Almaty 5-0 for third place. Murcia, meanwhile, are not short of European experience and knocked out Dinamo – on penalties – to reach their first final after two previous near-misses. They had hoped to become the third Spanish club to win the UEFA Futsal Cup, but instead their Italian international Vinicius Bacaro reflected: "This is what happens in futsal, this interesting and unpredictable sport."

Having won four of the first five UEFA Futsal Cups, Spain's clubs were now being caught by Russia's with Dinamo and Ekaterinburg's consecutive successes. "We can see that futsal is growing and the examples are these two Russian teams," Bacaro said. "The standard is getting higher and higher and that is a good thing for our sport. We need to follow their example. This should not be only between Russian and Spanish teams. I hope that in future years we can see clubs from new countries arriving, like Italy, so that futsal carries on developing."

That is crucial to the success of the UEFA Futsal Cup, especially since the old two-legged decider was replaced in 2006/07 by a single-venue final four televised by Eurosport. UEFA's futsal manager Laurent Morel had special praise for Dinamo, who may have lost the trophy but impressed with their staging of the finals at the new Krylatskoe Sport Palace. "The venue is really exceptional and exactly what we need for this kind of event," Morel said. "The right size, the right quality. It's what we'll look for in future editions."