Grand final pits Boomerang against Dinamo
Comprehensive wins in their semi-final, second-leg ties saw Spanish side Boomerang Interviú and Russian outfit Dynamo Moscow book their places in the UEFA Futsal Cup Final.
Both sides held similarly commanding first-leg leads going into the return legs and each made light work of sealing their place in the grand final, which is also to be played over two legs, on 26 April (Madrid) and 7 May (Moscow).
Dynamo Moscow took to the field in Friday's second-leg clash against Kairat Almaty in a seemingly unassailable position, having bagged a priceless and impressive 3-0 away win in the first leg. On home turf in the Russian capital, Dynamo started the stronger and took a deserved lead through Futsal's very own Pelé. Yet it was to Kazakstani side's credit that, despite this early set-back, they refused to let their heads drop and gradually took control of the game, putting their hosts under increasingly intense pressure. Just before half-time, their efforts were rewarded when Cacau coolly slipped the ball between the legs of Olexiy Popov for his side's equaliser.
However, Kairat's challenge, which had briefly flickered back into life, suffered a fatal blow just after the interval when a mistake by keeper Gustavo presented Kelson with the opportunity to make it 2-1 and restore Dynamo's four-goal aggregate advantage. The Russians, clinical in attack, then moved out of sight altogether with a goal from Tatu.
There was at least an element of redemption for Gustavo, Kairat's Brazilian keeper, who took it upon himself to make amends for his earlier error, firing home his team's second goal from the centre circle before producing a superb stop to deny Stanislav Larionov. However, as tempers began to flare, a rash of dismissals put an end to Kairat's hopes of a face-saving victory, and Dynamo punished this ill-discipline by extending their lead with goals from Olexiy Kudlay and Pavel Kobzar either side of a penalty miss from Tatu.
An emphatic 5-2 final scoreline had been secured, and Dynamo deservedly progress to the final of the UEFA Futsal Cup for the second year running, where they will be determined to make up for last season's extra-time defeat to Belgian club Charleroi.
Lean green scoring machine
In the other semi-final, played on Saturday in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) in front of 3,000 spectators, Boomerang Interviú - already 6-1 in front from the first leg - clinched a comfortable 5-3 win over Shakhtar Donetsk. The home side raced into a 3-0 lead within ten minutes off the kick-off thanks to the lethal finishing of Brazilian duo Neto and Shumacher, who scored twice. Ramis Mansurov pulled one back for the visitors before Marquinho and Joan both found the net to give Boomerang a 5-1 half-time lead.
In the second half, the 'Green Machine' took their foot off the pedal, comforted no doubt by a vast, nine-goal aggregate lead. Shakhtar duly took the opportunity to add a semblance of respectability to the scoreline, Yevgen Yunakov and Igor Moskyvchov both firing past Boomerang keeper Rafa - in for first-choice sticksman Luis Amado - to claim some measure of consolation. The result, 5-3, nevertheless saw the Ukrainians bow out of European competition with an 11-4 aggregate defeat.
Boomerang coach Jesús Candelas said delightedly of his team's achievement: "We played brilliantly in the first half and got the job done. However, I must say that we couldn't do anything about the second half. Our opponents went for broke and the game lost its momentum."
Candelas knows, however, that his side could not be facing a tougher opponent in the final than Dynamo Moscow. "They've reached the final for the last two years and that is a great achievement," said the Boomerang coach. "They have a team that appears less Russian and more Brazilian, and that's obviously thanks to a quartet of great Brazilian players that includes Joan and Cirilo. They've also got two top-class wide men and, as a team, are particularly adept at positional play."
With his side contesting both the UEFA Futsal Cup Final and the final phase of the Intercontinental Cup, as well as their remaining league fixtures, keeping his players fit and focussed for each and every challenge they face is likely to prove among the more notable of Candelas's challenges.