European first for Ekaterinburg

MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg claimed their first European title having never earned a domestic league crown as they won at the final four event in Moscow.

The new champions, Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg
The new champions, Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg ©Sportsfile

Debut success
Ekaterinburg were only making their competition debut because Russian champions MFK Dinamo Moskva lifted the trophy last year. But the newcomers won their three Elite round games, and in the final four in the Russian capital 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 penalties for Ekaterinburg and told "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 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 have a huge lead over 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 the 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."

Murcia will have top seeding in the forthcoming Spanish league play-offs as they attempt to return to Europe, but having won four of the first five UEFA Futsal Cups, Spain's clubs are 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."

Venue praised
That is crucial to the success of the UEFA Futsal Cup, especially since the old two-legged decider was replaced last year 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."