Baku, September 26, AZERTAC
A 3-2 win has seen Portugal clinch a spot in the FIFA Futsal World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 16 years, seeing off Azerbaijan in Cali.
Portuguese goalkeeper Bebe was arguably the busier of the two keepers in the early stages as Azerbaijan – missing key figures Vassoura, Fineo and goalkeeper Rovshan Huseynli – defended impressively. However, two major lapses in concentration saw their rearguard organisation undermined.
First, Djo was left all alone to slot in simply from a tight angle before Joao Matos was given the freedom of the area to head home from a corner. Fortunately for the debutants, they had pulled one back through Thiago Bolinha, turning in at the far post.
While Azerbaijan held Portugal to their two for a long stretch after they returned to the action after half-time, it was ultimately Ricardinho – a tormentor drawing the attention of everyone in red whenever he had the ball – that unlocked the door again with a touch of class. As the ball was drilled in by Matos, the Portuguese No10 stuck out a heel to delicately direct the shot past Emin Kurdov.
Falling two behind prompted an early introduction of the flying goalkeeper by Azerbaijan, where the extra pressure should have seen Fabio Poletto score, before Eduardo halved the deficit to set up a tense climax. They continued to pile on the pressure, striking the bar and forcing Bebe into a string of fine saves, but Portugal held out.
The victors will now face off against Argentina on Wednesday in Cali.