Spain beat Brazil 5:4 in a penalty shootout and booked its place in the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship final yesterday. And in the days other semifinal action Italy beat Argentina 7-4 in the fist ever Futsal World Championship meeting of the two nations to secure a spot in the final against Spain tomorrow.
FIFA promised fireworks and the capacity crowd was not disappointed by the explosive action in the first of the days two semifinal matches between holder Brazil and competition favorites Spain.
Both teams put more emphasis on testing and teasing their foe's defenses rather than looking for an instant goal in the opening minutes.
The tempo picked up in the 10th minute after Spain's Limones blasted a long range shot over the crossbar and within seconds Brazil's Fininho replied with an equally explosive long-range shot that went wide.
An entertaining game of tit-for-tat followed with Spain attempting to break through along the wings and Brazil trying to exploit the center of the court. Neither team could capitalize on the few defensive errors that occured and both teams left the court at half time with the score standing at 0-0.
The deadlock was finally broken by Spain's Andreu three minutes into the second half.
After a superb solo run down the left wing the Spanish midfielder out maneuvered Brazilian keeper, Franklin and poked the ball into the far corner of the goal making it 1-0 to Spain. Brazil's Pablo equalized in the 26th minute with a close range shot.
Simi put the South American's ahead 2-1 in the 35th minute with a powerful drive from just inside the penalty area. Within seconds Spain's Marcelo restored the balance to 2-2, however, after he out smarted the Brazilian keeper from close range and snuck the ball into the back of the net. At the final whistle the score in the first of the semifinals stood at 2-2.
Extra time proved a two-way end-to-end carbon copy of the first half of regular time, with Brazil and Spain making the most of the few opportunities, but lackluster finishing and superb goal keeping denied either team a winning goal. The final score after extra time remained 2-2.
At four goals apiece after the regular penalty shootout Neto's less than perfect first sudden death penalty shot glanced off the woodwork and out of play. Spain's Andreu made no mistakes, however. He stepped up the spot and without hesitation put his teams 5th into the back of the net and secured Spain a place in the final of the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship.
"It was on this same date in 2000 that Spain beat Brazil to become world champions and used this to motivate the [players] before the match," said Spain's coach, Javier Lozano. "It was a tight match, but I think that the better team won."
Ataly 7, Argentina 4
In the day's second semifinal match Italy beat Argentina 7-4 in fast paced no-holes-barred goal-fest that saw the Europeans dominate much of the play. After a flurry of threatening play Vinicius Bacaro put Italy ahead 1-0 with a close range shot from deep in the Argentine penalty area in the second minute.
Fabiano increased the European's lead to 2-0 in the ninth minute and Bacaro scored his second and Italy's third three minutes later. By the time the half time whistle went Italy had a commanding 3-0 lead and looked set to meet Spain in the final on Sunday.