Spain have survived the first major test of their title credentials by coming from behind to beat Russia and set up another all-European clash in the semi-finals against Italy. Much was expected of this rematch between the two UEFA Futsal EURO finalists, but while the Russians hadn’t conceded at Thailand prior to this match, but they were ultimately just edged out by an disciplined Spanish side.
Sergey Skorovich’s side could not have wished for a better start though, after Sirilo fired them in front with just a minute and 14 seconds on the clock. Spain, however, refused to panic and were level two minutes later when Ortiz toe-poked the ball beyond Gustavo and into the far corner of the net to end Russia’s run of defensive invincibility.
The European champions grew in strength as the half progressed and with 14 minutes played Fernandao edged them ahead, chipping a pass down the left for Aicardo and charging forward to receive the return crash a first-time left-foot shot just inside the far post. The Russians would have been happy to get to half-time just a goal down at this stage, but their hopes were dashed a minute before the break when Lozano put Spain 3-1 up from close range after his initial shot had rebounded back off the left-hand post.
Russia pushed forward in the second half in search of a way back into the match but with Spain’s defence well organised, and keeper Juanjo faultless whenever called upon, it took the introduction of a fifth outfield player with seven minutes remaining to tease an opening. Skorovich’s side used the extra player to work the ball wide to Eder Lima, and though Juanjo parried the forward’s shot, the ball rebounded back into the net off the legs of Alemao.
Drama persisted until the final whistle but despite some near misses from the Russians, Spain emerged triumphant and now march on to face another familiar foe in the last four.
"The result is fair. We played a very good first half, the second one was more balanced, but in the end the scoreline is fine. Juanjo played a fantastic match, but we won as a team. I would like to congratulate Russia for a great match today and a great job at the World Cup. It’s a pity that we had to face each other in the quarter-finals," Venancio Lopez, Spain coach.
"We worked very hard and we wanted to win but, as always, Spain go through and we head home. We started the game quite well but then we started to make mistakes and you can’t make those mistakes against a team like Spain because they will score goals," Sergey Skorovich, Russia coach.