UEFA Futsal EURO roundup: Italy beat Finland on debut, Kazakhstan and Slovenia draw | European Futsal Championship
Debuting in the UEFA Futsal EURO final, Finland were ousted by two-time defending champions Italy after opening Group B at the MartiniPlaza in Groningen with a 4-4 draw between Kazakhstan and Slovenia.
Group B continues in Groningen on Monday when Italy take on Slovenia and Kazakhstan meet Finland, while Group C kicks off in Amsterdam on Friday.
Watch the highlights from midnight CET.
Kazakhstan 4-4 Slovenia
Kazakhstan recovered from 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2 deficits to share the points. They were booked when Matej Fideršek hit the post, then in the 11th minute Nejc Hozjan dispossessed forward keeper Higuita and Denis Totošković slotted in from distance. To make matters worse for Kazakhstan, Albert Akbalikov was sent off after a foul on Slovenian goalkeeper Nejc Berzelak, but his side survived the power play and Douglas Junior leveled them at the break from Edson’s corner .
Just after half-time, however, Slovenia produced a carbon copy of that Kazakhstan goal, Alen Fetić’s kick perfectly met on the opposite side by Fideršek. Birzhan Orazov quickly equalized after Slovenia were taken into possession, but Žiga Čeh made it 3-2 as he collected the ball from deep, moved forward and past Higuita, and Teo Turk repeated the trick minutes later . Zhomart Tokayev’s brilliant heel strike on Taynan’s shot gave Kazakhstan hope and, two minutes from time, Douglas Junior’s strike slipped under Berzelak’s dive.
Douglas Junior, Kazakhstan player: “We know that today we didn’t play as we usually do but it’s linked to the way we prepared for this tournament which was far from ideal. Nevertheless, when the game was against us we never gave up fighting and were rewarded with a draw.”
Žiga Čeh, Slovenian player“I really don’t know if we can feel confident for the future or just frustrated that we couldn’t hold a 4-2 lead. We played very well and I think we deserved to win, but that’s how it is.”
Key stat: This is the second EURO Futsal group to start with a 4-4 draw after Group D in 2018, when France held Spain.
Italy 3-3 Finland
Italy denied Finland with less than 90 seconds left in a dramatic game to face Kazakhstan against Slovenia. The first of four debutants in the final to start their campaign, Finland scored in the first minute as Henri Alamikkotervo fired from long range after Jukka Kytölä replayed a kick. However, Italy quickly equalized when Douglas Nicolodi stepped in from the left sideline and found the top corner.
Cainan de Matos’ turn and shot from the outside of the shoe gave Italy the lead in the 30th minute, but Alamikkotervo’s free-kick equalized in ten seconds. And soon after Pano Autio, the Finnish captain with over 100 international goals to his name, produced a fantastic curling shot from long range to make it 3-2. Italy hit the woodwork more than once before De Matos equalized from a well-worked opener.
Mićo Martić, Finland coach: “I’m happy with the result, I dreamed of it! OK, we conceded the last goal but our goalkeeper was fantastic and Italy were a strong team.”
Key stat: At 18 years and 173 days, Italian substitute goalkeeper Dennis Berthod is the youngest player to feature in a one-day squad for the EURO futsal final, beating by 182 days the record set in 2010 by another Azzurri player, Cristian Rizzo, during a meeting with Ukraine.