UEFA Futsal Cup holders Kairat Almaty and Araz Naxçivan won decisive games on Sunday to finish with perfect records in their elite round groups and qualify for next April's finals.
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Holders Kairat Almaty and Araz Naxçivan completed their progress to next April's UEFA Futsal Cup finals after topping their respective elite round groups with three wins from three games.
Finals lineup: Araz Naxçivan (AZE), FC Barcelona (ESP), MFK Dinamo (RUS), Kairat Almaty (KAZ, holders)
The duo faced decisive encounters in the final instalment of elite round matches on Sunday and both came out on top to join 2012 winners FC Barcelona and MFK Dinamo in the four-team finals. In Kairat's case, that meant seeing off fellow Kazakh hopefuls Tulpar Karagandy to win Group C, and they duly delivered in a commanding 7-1 success.
Leo put Kairat ahead after 12 minutes and Tulpar's decision to withdraw their goalkeeper proved costly as they conceded twice more in the first half. Kairat then turned on the style after the break, but they did concede their first goal of the elite round as Alex struck for Tulpar. "Our desire to play in an attack-minded manner badly affected our game," lamented the Karagandy side's coach Amirzhan Mukanov afterwards.
His opposite number Cacau was able to reflect on an excellent five days of futsal, meanwhile, his team having defeated both MFK VitEn Vitebsk and KMF Tango Sarajevo 9-0, Leo firing a hat-trick in the first game and two goals in the second. Tulpar also overcame those clubs, beating Sarajevo 8-3 and Vitebsk 4-2, before the section back markers drew 4-4 in their final outing ahead of Kairat's meeting with Tulpar. "It was a good warm-up before the decisive show, like in boxing," said Vitebsk coach Yuri Poklad.
In Group D, Araz finished top on nine points thanks to a 6-3 triumph against closest rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal on the final day. Sporting required just a draw to finish at the head of the pool and responded quickly to Fabiano's opener, before sending on Alex as a flying goalkeeper when 4-2 down. He reduced the deficit, yet Fabiano pounced on a pair of rebounds to complete a hat-trick and settle the outcome.
Before that, Araz likewise recorded wins against CF Eindhoven and Győri ETO FC, prevailing 6-3 and 5-0 respectively. As for Sporting, they had kicked off with 6-1 victories against both clubs, with Győr then overcoming Eindhoven 7-2 to finish third.
The hosts for April's final tournament will be picked from among the four contenders next month.