Brazil have retained the FIFA Futsal World Cup in a thrilling final in which they came from behind to beat Spain 3-2 after extra time at Bangkok’s Huamark Indoor Stadium. A double from Neto and a stunning equalising goal from Falcao enabled the South Americans to keep hold of their trophy, with Neto’s winner coming just 19 second from the end.
Despite the excitement that ultimately unfolded, it was perhaps predictable that we did not witness an open, free-flowing and incident-packed first half, with the teams’ evident mutual respect contributing to some tense, tactical opening exchanges. Spain, though, enjoyed marginally the better of the opening period, and would have gone in front after just five minutes but for a Vinicius goal-line clearance that prevented Lozano’s low shot from finding the net.
Miguelin then forced Tiago into a a point-blank reaction save four minutes later, while Brazil’s best effort of the half came when a Rafael shot deflected off Kike and spun just over the crossbar. Naturally, being outplayed for most of the opening period called for drastic action from the Auriverde coach, Marcos Sorato, and he provided that with the introduction of the team’s aging talisman, Falcao.
Brazil were immediately lifted by the 35-year-old’s presence, and came close to taking the lead when Falcao himself sent a left-foot shot flashing wide of the far post. Seconds later, the breakthrough did arrive. It was a goal worthy of a final too, with Neto – positioned wide on the left - meeting first time a short corner and blasting an unstoppable left-foot shot low across goal and inside the far post.
Stung into action, Spain attempted to claw back the initiative, and Tiago twice had to race from his goal to save at the feet of Fernandao as pressure was applied. With ten minutes remaining, that pressure paid off as Torras pounced on a rebound to fire home after Miguelin’s initial left-foot effort had been parried brilliantly by Tiago.
Spanish tails were up again and, just 61 seconds later, they scored a second. Again, a set piece situation proved crucial, with Alemao firing in a shot from a short corner that took a slight deflection on its way to beating Tiago at his near post. Spain might have won it too when Torras rattled the face of the crossbar from a quickly-taken Kike free-kick, but that near miss was to take on added significance just a minute later.
That was when we were treated to the fairy tale goal that all Brazilian and neutral fans had wanted to see, with Falcao – taking advantage of space provided by his team moving to five outfield players – unleashing a ferocious long-range shot that was destined for the top corner from the moment it left his left boot. Juanjo didn’t even move.
Falcao's strike also ensured that the match would go to extra time, where another stunning goal - scored with just 19 seconds remaining - won the trophy for Brazil. This time, it was Neto who took the spotlight, flicking the ball over his marker’s challenge on the halfway line, racing down the win and rifling a low left-foot shot into the far corner.
It was a goal worthy of gracing any stage, and while Brazil head for home as deserved champions, both sides deserve huge credit for serving up a feast of futsal that was the best possible advert for the sport.
“It was a great final and it showed that futsal deserves more attention. It was an attractive match and the fans were on their feet until the final moments. We had to fight until the end and even when Spain scored, but we believed in ourselves as the Argentina match was a good lesson for us. I never stopped believing in the capabilities of my players. It was a dream final,” Marcos Sorato, Brazil coach.
“Firstly, I want to congratulate Brazil. I believe though that we were the ones taking the risks and dictating the pace of the game, and I believe we deserved a different result. But that's how sport is. We had a 2-1 lead and the chance of scoring a third goal, but we didn’t take it and, next thing, they equalised. This group of players has given everything, and for that I am very thankful,” Venancio Lopez, Spain coach.