Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan are the new UEFA Futsal Cup champions after beating FC Barcelona 3-2 in today’s final in Lisbon. It was a tense, tight affair with plenty of balls hitting the woodwork and luck turning its back on the Catalans on several occasions.
Barça went at it from the start, with Wilde as the target man up front against Kairat’s famous but risky rush goalie tactic – their keeper Higuita hitting the post with an early long range drive, shortly before FCB’s Batería did the same with a dangerous free kick.
Douglas and Lin then hit the woodwork twice in the space of a minute, and Gabriel produced a marvellous save to keep the teams locked at 0-0 on the first quarter hour.
But after 17 minutes, the deadlock was broken by Humberto to put Kairat 1-0 up. And just before half time that lead was extended by Divanei. To be two-goals down after the first half was a cruel punishment for Marc Carmona’s side, who had enjoyed more chances but failed to find the net once.
Kairat seemed insecure after the restart, and had Higuita to thank for maintaining their lead, while Carmona opted to go for even more offensive tactics than ever, sending on Sergio Lozano, who is still not entirely recovered from injury. Lin hit yet another post for Barça before Saad finally found the target to narrow the difference to 2-1 – but now they were missing Lozano, who been red carded for a ‘professional foul’.
Igor made the most of the numerical superiority to make it 3-1, but Lin pulled one back for the defending champions in the very next move. Wilde was the next player ordered off for knocking Higuita, and for the final five minutes Saad was used as a rush goalie as Barça pushed hard in search of an equaliser. It was gripping stuff right to the end but the goal didn’t want to come and a third European crown will have to wait for at least one more year