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Inter, Benfica, Pescara, Ugra reach Futsal Cup finals

Three-time winners Inter and the team that beat them in the 2010 final, Benfica, will be joined by debutants Pescara and Ugra Yugorsk in April's finals.

Inter celebrate scoring in their 10-2 defeat of Kremlin Bicêtre
Inter celebrate scoring in their 10-2 defeat of Kremlin Bicêtre ©Inter FS

Three-time winners Inter and their 2010 final nemeses Benfica both top groups
Debutants Pescara and Ugra Yugorsk win elite round sections to complete lineup
The four teams progress to the knockout finals, which one of them will host in late April

Group A: Winners Inter FS
Record three-time winners Inter FS delighted their home crowd in Torrejon de Ardoz with three victories to reach their first finals since losing the 2010 decider to Benfica in Lisbon. On that day, Ricardinho played for Benfica, but he played a role in Inter's success this time, scoring four Group A goals, including one in the final-day success against Belarusian champions Lidselmash Lida.

The teams both beat Dobovec and Kremlin Bicêtre United to go into the final day with a maximum six points – though Inter's goal difference was vastly superior. Dmitri Goncharov put the visitors in front after a goalless first half, but Cardinal, Ortiz, Ricardinho and Jesús Herrero struck as Inter rallied to win 4-2.

©Massimo Mucciante

Group B: Pescara
Fabricio Calderolli, Leandro Cuzzolino and Rogerio Da Silva – veterans of Italy's sole triumph in this competition with Montesilvano in 2011 – helped hosts and debutants Pescara become the first team to reach the finals after starting in the preliminary round under the present format. Two early goals helped them beat Zelezarec Skopje in the opener, while Belgium's Halle-Gooik scored twice in the last three minutes to hold Tulpar Karagandy 2-2.

Zelezarec then saw off Tulpar 6-4, scoring three times in the final five minutes, meaning Pescara knew victory against Halle-Gooik could take them through. Despite falling behind late in the first half, they scored twice in the 20th minute and won 4-2. Pescara made it nine wins out of nine in Europe by beating Tulpar 4-0 on Saturday, after Zelezarec had defeated Halle-Gooik by the same scoreline for second place – a fine return for the Skopje side having finally reached this round at the eighth attempt this season, comfortably the best Macedonian performance.

©Győri ETO FC

Group C: Ugra Yugorsk
Having snatched the Russian title from 2007 European champions FC Dynamo, Ugra secured a finals place thanks in no small part to their opening 5-2 defeat of holders Kairat Almaty. Ugra were 3-0 up at half-time and later led 4-0 and 5-1. Elsewhere, EP Chrudim led twice against hosts Győr but it finished 3-3.

As Kairat then defeated Chrudim 4-1, Ugra knew victory against Győr would ensure their finals berth, and they triumphed 5-2 despite being made to work. Ugra finished off with a 6-0 win against Chrudim, UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 golden boot winner Eder Lima getting a hat-trick of long-range goals to finish as top scorer on six. As for Kairat, they saw off Győr 5-4 with a late winner from goalkeeper Higuita to finish second.

©Slov-Matic Bratislava

Group D: Benfica
The 2010 winners Benfica are back in the finals for the first time since 2011 but only after a dramatic final-day defeat denied Lokomotiv Kharkiv. Both sides won on the opening day, Benfica beating Ekonomac Kragujevac 3-0 with three second-half goals and Lokomotiv defeating hosts Slov-Matic Bratislava 2-0. Lokomotiv then overcame Ekonomac 6-1, but, in front of a 4,000-strong crowd at Zimný štadión Ondreja Nepelu – a record for a futsal match in Slovakia – Slov-Matic surprised Benfica 5-4, with Marek Belaník putting Bratislava ahead on 35 minutes and Gabriel Bartošek twice beating Benfica's flying goalkeeper Bruno Coelho, who later scored at the death after Alessandro Patias had pulled one back.

Those late strikes ended Slov-Matic's hopes and meant Benfica knew a two-goal defeat of Lokomotiv would book them a finals place regardless of Bratislava's later result. Lokomotiv stook firm, but Wilhelm broke the deadlock with seven minutes to go and, just two seconds from time, Fábio Cecílio claimed the second that booked Benfica's finals place, though, in the end, a one-goal win would have been enough as the other match finished 2-2.

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