The FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 came to a thrilling and fitting climax in a dramatic final between the two powerhouses of the sport, with Brazil - already the world's most successful futsal nation - edging out Spain and successfully defending the global crown they won in 2008.
The South Americans literally struck in the final minute to win the encounter at Bangkok's Huamark Indoor Stadium 3-2, match-winner Neto scoring the conclusive goal 19 seconds from the end. Brazil thus add a fifth world title to their previous triumphs in 1989, 1992, 1996 and 2008.
In the match for third place, Italy claimed the final podium berth with a 3-0 victory over Colombia. There were no goals in the first half, but the Europeans roared off the blocks after the restart and wrapped it up with a double strike from Rodolfo Fortino and a glorious third from Sergio Romano.
Goal of the day
Spain-Brazil, Falcao, 36:13
In his third FIFA Futsal World Cup final appearance for Brazil, Falcao proved his worth like never before. With the clock ticking down in normal time, the South Americans were trailing 2-1 and throwing everything at the Spanish. It fell to Brazil's figurehead to equalise with a precise 12-yard drive. The goal three minutes from time brought A Seleção back into a match they seemed destined to lose, re-energising the team to survive the remaining seconds and lay the foundation for their eventual triumph.
The final between Brazil and Spain appeared destined for a shootout, but Brazil's Neto had other ideas and conjured up a memorable goal in the dying seconds. The striker accepted a diagonal pass on the left flank and lifted the ball past his marker, before rifling home a drive from the left-hand channel. That made the score a title-winning 3-2 and transformed the Huamark Indoor Stadium into a boiling cauldron of noise.
Prior to the final in the Thai capital, the Spanish players could be seen relaxing in the stands as they watched the match for third place. Captain Kike and his men were visibly enjoying the Italy-Colombia clash before eventually heading off to the dressing room to start warming up midway through the second half.
Juan Lozano was Colombia's man of the match, producing a string of brilliant saves to leave the Italian strikers shaking their heads in disbelief, and rescuing his side from disaster on countless occasions. But fate turned on the keeper in the 32nd minute, as he attempted to intercept a speculative long pass, only for the ball to strike his hand outside the area. The referee was left with no option but to brandish the red card, prompting Lozano to burst into tears. But his sad departure from the pitch turned into a triumphal march, as the crowd rose to applaud the top-class keeper, chanting his name and high-fiving him as he trudged past. It was surely some consolation for the premature end to his appearance.
Passionate full house
There could hardly have been a more appropriate set of ingredients for the FIFA Futsal World Cup final, as two skilled teams served up a thrilling and technically absorbing contest for the passionate capacity crowd. When Spain took a timeout shortly before the interval, a spontaneous Mexican wave filled the arena with colour and noise, as the crowd’s enthusiasm and love for the game produced an atmosphere worthy of a world final.
Stat of the day
152 – With their victory over Spain in the final, Brazil have extended a remarkable record, as they are now undefeated in their last 152 games. Their last defeat was in a friendly as long ago as 8 December 2005, ironically enough against the Spanish.
"Honestly, that was the last bit of energy I had! I think that both teams were already mentally preparing for penalty kicks, but I thought, ‘Why not have one last go at getting something?’ Thank God it worked out," Neto on his winning goal.