Portugal delight as Kazakhstan dream ends in heartbreak

  • Portugal reach their first Futsal World Cup final after shootout drama

  • Tiago Brito converted the decisive penalty

  • Portugal face Argentina in Sunday’s showdown

Result

30 September 2021, Kaunas Portugal 2-2 (4-3 pens) Kazakhstan Goals: Pany (23'), Nurgozhin (40'), Douglas (42'), B. Coelho (49')

Moments

Portugal party in the stands as Kazakhstan keep their cool on the court The Portuguese fans inside the Kaunas Arena outnumbered their Kazakh counterparts both numerically and acoustically, creating a spine-tingling atmosphere as soon as the national anthems rang out. Yet it was Kazakhstan who set the tone in the opening minutes of the semi-final. Leo Higuita was his usual attacking self, frequently acting as a fifth outfield player from the start of today’s match, while a goal from Birzhan Orazov was ruled out by video support.

Higuita hat-trick and walloping the woodwork Having already delivered several outstanding performances, Kazakhstan goalkeeper Higuita once again reinforced his claim to the adidas Golden Glove by blocking shots from Pany, Afonso and Fabio Cecilio onto the post with his hands and legs. The five-time Best Goalkeeper in the World celebrated these saves with his trademark fist pump. These exploits were soon followed by one of those moments at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021 that attract gasps of admiration from TV viewers and fans in the arena alike. Taynan leapt into the air to meet Higuita’s long ball perfectly with a sideways scissor kick, firing the ball past the stunned Bebe... and onto the crossbar. Just seconds later, Orazov struck the base of the post after a quick one-two with Albert Akbalikov.

Post proves lucky for Pany but not for Higuita Portugal’s match against Morocco is the only time Pany has failed to get on the scoresheet while in Lithuania, and the lively No. 11 gave his team the lead once again in their historic semi-final – with a little help from the inside of the post. Higuita did not seem to share the same luck at the other end of the court as his shot struck the outer edge of the upright.

Figueroa’s golden hands Many onlookers will have wondered why Kazakhstan’s Brazilian coach decided to replace his excellent goalkeeper Higuita with power play specialist Dauren Nurgozhin with only just over a minute left to play, given that Higuita was also a constant threat during power plays. Yet any questions were put to bed seconds later as Nurgozhin tucked away the equaliser to force extra time.

It had to be Douglas Junior Heroes are born and stories are written in penalty shootouts. Douglas Junior has performed exceptionally well at this World Cup and was a key figure again in today’s semi-final. Yet just minutes after putting Kazakhstan ahead with a free-kick in extra time to put the final within reach, the Iron Man became one of the most tragic figures of the match as he missed his spot-kick. Tiago Brito converted the crucial fifth penalty to take Portugal to their first ever Futsal World Cup final.

Quotes

"We fought to the very end. The penalty shootout is always a lottery, and we could have won it. I feel so bad for the boys, who gave everything to win. It didn’t work out tonight, but there’s still the match for third place. Kazakhstan, we need your continued support." Kazakhstan captain Leo Higuita

"For 50 minutes I had to be ready if my team needed me. They needed me for the penalty shootout, so I went in and did what I had to do. We want to thank the fans who were here for us tonight. They were like a sixth player who helped us to victory, and we hope they’ll come back again for the final on Sunday." Portugal’s second goalkeeper Vitor Hugo

Stat

3 – Talk about third time lucky. After two unsuccessful attempts in 2000 and 2016, Portugal won a semi-final for the first time tonight and will contest their first Futsal World Cup final on Sunday.

Up next

3 October 2021, Kaunas (all times local) Match for third place, 18:00   Brazil – Kazakhstan

Final, 20:00 Argentina – Portugal