LJUBLJANA – Spain has advanced to its ninth Futsal Euro final with a thrilling victory Thursday night in a penalty shootout over Kazakhstan, which had rallied in the second extra time to tie the score at 5-5.
Taynan got the Kazakhs off to a strong start at Arena Stozice in the Slovenian capital with a goal in the eighth minute after combining on a one-two with Douglas Junior and managing to get his shot past goalkeeper Paco Sedano.
But the Spaniards showed why they are the defending champions – and winners of seven Futsal Euro titles – by storming back for two goals late in the first half.
The Spaniards’ first score came off a corner kick by Bebe in the 16th minute that Kazakhstan’s Chingiz Yesenamanov inadvertently knocked into his own goal; three minutes later, Spain took the lead for the first time when Marc Tolra fired a shot into the back of the net off a pass from Miguelin.
The Central Asian squad was far from done, however, recovering shortly after the start of the second half to retake the lead at 3-2 on 25th-minute goals by goalkeeper Higuita and Taku.
First, Higuita found the net with a powerful blast off a free kick from just inside Spain’s half, while Taku gave the Kazakhs the lead on a nifty goal 45 seconds later that was set up by Douglas Junior.
Several more goals, however, were still to come.
Spain retook the lead a second time with goals in the 29th minute by Joselito, who scored on a cross by Bebe, and in the 34th minute by Pola, who was able to nudge the ball past Higuita.
Time was ticking away on the Kazakhs, but with just over one minute left Douglas Junior sent a low shot that managed to get past Sedano to tie the score at 4-4 and send the semi-final match into two five-minute periods of extra time.
Spain moved ahead at 5-4 at the 43-minute mark on a goal by Miguelin but then squandered the lead once again when Serik Zhamankulov finished off a pass by Taynan in the 48th minute to make the score 5-5.
After extra time expired, Spain finally clinched a 3-1 victory in the penalty shootout by connecting on all of its attempts.
Sedano’s save of Kazakhstan’s first penalty try (by Taynan) was the key blow, while Lin converted the winner for Spain.
The Spaniards will next try to increase their record haul of Futsal Euro titles to eight when they square off in Saturday night’s final against Portugal, which edged Russia 3-2 in Thursday’s first semifinal.
Portugal will be seeking its first title.
Kazakhstan, meanwhile, came agonizingly close to reaching its first Futsal Euro final but now will have to try to salvage a second straight third-place finish when it takes on Russia on Saturday evening.