Russia booked their place in the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 final after outlasting Iran 4-3 in Tuesday’s semi-final in Medellin.
The European side led from the start at the Coliseo Ivan de Bedout to reach their first-ever Futsal World Cup final, though they were made to work hard for it by the Asian champions, who had shown their pedigree in making it to the last four after victories over reigning world champions Brazil in the Round of 16 and Paraguay in the quarter-finals.
A scrappy first half saw both sides find the scoresheet before half-time. It was Russia that took the lead through Dmitry Lyskov, who made the most of some patient build-up to create a foot of space from his marker and shoot across Iran goalkeeper Alireza Samimi into the top left corner for 1-0.
Iran’s response came through a stunning free-kick from Ahmad Esmaeilpour. His effort curled around the Russian wall and into the top right corner, leaving Gustavo frozen in the Russian goal.
Russia restored their lead shortly after the break through Sergey Abramov’s sumptuous volley for his second of the tournament. Then came arguably the turning point of the match, as both sides exchanged goals midway through the second half.
Iran felt they had turned the momentum back in their favour when Ali Hassan Zadeh showed great composure to make it 2-2. Yet, seconds later, Russia responded through their captain Vladislav Shayakhmetov to leave the Iranians chasing the match once more.
With time winding down, Iran used the flying goalkeeper in a bid to draw level for a third time. Yet, with an empty Iranian net to aim for, Russia scored their match winner through Ivan Chishkala from his own half.
“It was a really hard match,” said Russia coach Sergey Skorovich. “We had not been able to go ahead with two goals, but this was exactly how we expected the match to be. We did not move ourselves how we wanted, but this is normal after a long tournament like this.”
Though the task looked insurmountable, Iran’s never-say-die spirit that has been at the foundation of their Colombia 2016 campaign made the final seconds of this semi-final interesting, as Mahdi Javid converted on the rebound to make the scoreline a more accurate reflection of this hard-fought contest.
“It is not easy to say something after we lost,” said Iran coach Seyed Nazemalsharieh. “But I am really happy that we could give pleasure to the spectators. We always play with our hearts and we also proved that today. Big congratulations to Russia for reaching the final."
Russia’s triumph sees them advance to the final in Cali on Saturday 1 October, where they will face the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final between Argentina and Portugal. Iran will play in Saturday’s third-place match against the loser of Wednesday’s semi-final, also in Cali.