- Portugal needed extra time to win a first-ever Futsal EURO title
- Ricardinho was voted Player of the Tournament, finished as top scorer
- Russia claimed third place at Slovenia 2018
Portuguese football continues to break new ground. After winning a maiden FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title in 2015, and then claiming a first continental crown at UEFA EURO 2016, Portugal etched their name on the UEFA Futsal EURO trophy for the very first time at the weekend.
They did so by beating defending seven-time champions Spain 3-2 after extra time, a victory that gave the Portuguese ample revenge for the defeat they suffered at the hands of their neighbours in the 2010 final.
The fourth-placed side at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016, Portugal held their nerve to edge a final that set a fitting seal on the two-week tournament that was held in Slovenia.
Ricardinho in a class of his own
Regarded for many years as one of the finest futsal players in the world, Portugal's No10 Ricardinho lived up to that status at Futsal EURO 2018, spearheading his side’s victorious campaign.
Ricardinho’s feats in Slovenia
- Voted Player of the Tournament, an award presented for the first time at the UEFA Futsal EURO.
- Top scorer in the finals with seven goals
- Now has a total of 22 finals goals to his name, more than any other player in the history of the competition
“I knew it was going to be our year,” said the inspirational Portugal captain afterwards. “We put in a huge effort on an individual, collective, and strategic level, and it paid off. We’re the best and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Another Portugal star to make a vital contribution was Bruno Coelho, the only player to score in all of their five wins and the tournament’s second-highest marksman with six goals.
Five key points from the final
- Ricardinho opened the scoring on 59 seconds, the fastest-ever goal in a Futsal EURO final.
- Spain came back to lead through goals from Tolra and Lin.
- Bruno Coelho made it 2-2 with less than two minutes remaining to force extra time.
- Ricardinho picked up an injury in extra time and had to go off.
- Coelho won the title for Portugal with a last-minute ten-metre penalty.
What we learned
Spain remain the pre-eminent force in European futsal. The Spanish have featured in the semi-finals of every continental finals competition to date, while their defeat to Portugal was only their second in nine European finals, the other one having come in 1999.
Russia, who have long been a force on the European scene, fell just short in their bid to reach a fourth consecutive final and to win the trophy for the first time since 1999. The Russians gained some consolation by beating Kazakhstan 1-0 in the match for third place.
The Kazakhs lived up to expectations, progressing to the last four for the second time running and coming close to toppling the mighty Spanish, who only advanced to the final after a penalty shoot-out.
Hosts Slovenia also impressed in making the quarter-finals for only the second time, while tournament newcomers France held Spain to a draw, a notable result that was still not enough for them to reach the knockout phase.
Did you know?
- A total of 48 countries, among them debutants Germany and Kosovo, took part in the three-phase qualification competition, with 12 teams advancing to the finals.
- The tournament will be held every four years from now on, instead of two. The next finals, in 2022, will feature 16 teams.