Brazil - Spain: Penalty drama as Lozano heads for the Final
Exactly four years ago to the day that Spain beat Brazil to win the World Championship in Guatemala they repeated the dose to take their place in the final of FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. The sides could not be separated after two hours of the highest quality futsal - Spain finally winning 5-4 on penalties.
"The game had everything a futsal game could have - quality, drama, emotion and passion. Tonight the game ebbed and flowed so much but I thought we deserved to win. The penalty shoot-out is a lottery but tonight the better side won - although it was a very tight match," Spain coach Javier Lozano said after the game.
Spain started the match confidently - in fact it took the Brazilians over two minutes to have a shot. The leading scorer in the tournament Falcao uncharacteristally gave the ball away in the early exchanges but almost immediately came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half. Finding a yard of space to the left of the goal, he cracked his drive towards the far corner. Luis Amado could only watch in hope as the ball struck first one post then the other and crawled to safety.
If Spain had fractionally more possession, it was the Auriverde who created the shooting chances. Simi exchanged passes with Euler to force Amado to save with his feet.
It was a measure of the respect the two coaches have for each other that very few changes were made throughout the game. Brazil's first in fact was for Falcao - but Pablo was only on the court for a matter of moments - just long enough for the Brazilian No 12 to change his shoes.
Schumacher came on for Neto and Indio emerged to give his side a pivot. Both tested Amado, and the side looked more direct as a result.
Spain's best efforts stemmed from controlled passing movements which dragged Ferretti's men out of position. Javi Rodriguez usually ended as the man in space but he couldn't find the killer ball. Lozano's men had to be satisfied with testing Franklin from long range - Kike and Torras both shooting over the bar.
The Spanish coach appeared concerned on the touchline that his side were defending too deep - he was often to be seen urging his defenders to push out.
If the first half was a tense stalemate, the second saw four goals and the game flowing from end to end. Spain took the lead early in the half - Andreu skipping past Neto before opening his body to place a right foot shot inside the far corner.
The Brazilians had to come at the Spanish then, and in a dazzling display of footwork, Falcao played on after he was fouled, got up danced round three defenders but couldn't squeeze his shot in for what would have been the goal of the tournament.
They eventually found a way past Luis Amado - Falcao passed to Pablo, who stabbed the ball into the roof from an oblique angle. More pressure was piled onto Amado's goal and a second duly came - Falcao again the provider - Simi taking his threaded ball and arrowing a shot into the top corner.
But back came Spain - although their equaliser had more than a hint of good fortune about it. Only seconds before, Lozano had finished the final instructions of his time-out when Kike found Marcelo wide on the right. His shot took enough of a deflection to beat Franklin. The only Spaniard in the arena not to go crazy was Lozano himself - calculating his next move.
There was no more scoring before the end of normal time, although Brazil pressed and so we went into extra-time. The pattern was continued - Brazil pressing and the Spaniards looking to break. Neither side had made many substitutions and the players began to look as if they had given everything. Certainly no one wanted to make the mistake which would cost the game.
So for only the second time in FIFA Futsal World Championship history, a semi-final would go to penalties. Spain went first, and amidst mounting bedlam from the crowd Kike, so assured during the game, had his spot-kick saved by Franklin. Luis Amado got a hand to Simi's shot but couldn't keep it out. Torras and Euler both blasted home, skipper Julio sent Franklin the wrong way before Indio's effort was beaten away by Amado. Limones and Javi Rodriguez then made no mistake for Spain while Falcao and Schumacher took us to sudden death.
Andreu crashed in high to Franklin's right, but Neto could only watch as his penalty flew back over his own head off the bar. The Spaniards celebrated a famous victory, but Lozano, cool as ever, walked straight to shake Ferretti's hand.
"The problem today was that we didn't take our chances. I was pleased with our defence and we created enough chances to win the game, but we just didn't take them," a disappointed Ferretti said afterwards.