Intercontinental Cup Day 3: A Wild Semi-Final Round
Matchday 3 of the Intercontinental Cup was easily the most entertaining so far with many of the world’s greatest futsallers battling for a spot in the final with one match in particular ending in a unique tiebreaker.
By: Kris Fernandes
Photos By: Kathleen George
ElPozo (Spain) v Carlos Barbosa (Brazil)
An incredibly strange ending to determine who would advance to the final.
The highly anticipated match between arguably the most successful Spanish and Brazilan futsal clubs opened day three of the Intercontinental Cup with the winner booking a place in tomorrow’s final.
Both teams opened up the competition with fairly comfortable wins against American side World United and with some of the best futsallers in the world on both rosters the crowd was in for a treat.
ElPozo opened up the scoring when a rebound came to Miguelin who showed great skill with a volley off a rebound that gave the Spaniards the early lead.
Considering the stakes it was no surprise that the pace in the early going was very fast with plenty of rotational movement.
Lolo Suazo had a strong half as did Adri who scored in fine fashion to go up 2-0.
Flavio had a glorious chance in front with about 30 seconds to go but was denied by Rafa whose arm barely deflected the ball out of bounds.
Barbosa Head Coach Paulo Mussalem went into halftime with some work to do. He has only been at the helm of the club for 35 days and has stated that defence had been a primary focus since his arrival. Now it was time to see what kind of offensive power they could muster against a confident ElPozo team.
Barbosa started strong in the first few minutes of the 2nd half creating a series of solid shots that were stopped by Rafa Fernandez.
They finally managed to get on the scoreboard four minutes with an excellent goal when Rodrigo delivered a beautiful pass that that Flavio struck with the side of his left foot that was crossed behind his right.
The game became a lot more physical with players on both sides taking hard bumps. Both goalkeepers were also on top of their game with Fernandez and Barbosa’s Rennan exchanging highlight reel stops for several minutes much to the delight of the crowd.
The momentum swung back in ElPozo’s favour with about 8 minutes left when Barbosa reached their 5th foul, causing them to lay off their tight marking in order to reduce the chances of conceding a 10m penalty.
The crowd roared to its feet when Barbosa tied the game up courtesy of a Luizinho goal with just over four minutes remaining.
They almost took the lead a minute later when ElPozo’s keeper was caught far off his line but the chip shot from Rennan missed by inches.
Because of the goal difference from their prior group stage match ElPozo now had to score to advance to the final. They had accumulated more cards than Barbosa. As a result, they subbed out their goalie in favour of utilizing Grelo as a 5th attacker and pressured the Barbosa goal hard.
Their best chance came with 10 seconds remaining when a pass found Miguelin at the corner of a wide open net but shockingly mishit the ball out of bounds. Everybody in the arena would’ve put their mortgage on the line for him to score.
What was particularly strange was that although Barbosa had thought they advanced the referees actually had to delay the result after the match as the goal difference and goals scored of both clubs were identical.
What ended up happening is that Carlos Barbosa advanced via a tiebreaker in which they accumulated less points from cards. Two points were given to a team that received a red card in their group stage matches while a yellow is worth one point. So when they calculated the results Barbosa had six points while ElPozo had generated seven and that was the difference to get into the championship match.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH CARLOS BARBOSA: Rennan (Goalkeeper)
PLAYER OF THE MATCH ELPOZO: Rafa Fernandez (Goalkeeper)
Dinamo v Intelli
It would be hard to top the great game between ElPozo and Barbosa but if there existed a pair of teams with astounding quality and star power to do it, it certainly was Dinamo Moscow and Intelli Orlandia.
Dinamo looked the most impressive of all teams after the first round of matches having dismantled Glucosoral by a 8-1 score yesterday. Intelli had also beaten the Guatemalan side by a 7-2 score.
Fans flocked in droves to watch a star studded match featuring Falcao and Je as they faced the trio of Pula, Cirilo, and Fernandinho.
Dinamo pressed hard from the start and looked very god in all aspects. Their aggressiveness on defence was evident from the opening whistle and it was clear they planned to give as little space as possible to the Brazilian club
Fernandinho scored first and that was followed with a strike from Romulo as Dinamo dictated the game early with a 2-0 lead.
Head Coach Aparecido Silva called a timeout that proved valueable as mere seconds after Romulo scored, Intelli went on the attack and were fouled in the crease for a penalty shot.
Falcao was designated to take it and the crowd rose to its feet in anticipation and were not disappointed as the famous #12 beat Gustavo down low to bring them back within a goal.
The match became very testy soon after with Russian Fukin going face to face with Cico. Falcao was cautioned for expressing his displeasure with his Russian opponent and Je was also issued a yellow moments after he was on the receiving end of a hard tackle.
Dinamo fouled out rather early and with 7:49 left in the half conceded their 6th foul. This brought Vinicius to the 10m spot where he struck a perfectly placed shot just under the crossbar to tie the game up at two.
Intelli were awarded another penalty from the spot after a tackle in the box brought down Cico. Falcao would again step up and again beat Gustavo while giving him a little shush with his finger. The chippy play escalated further with Intelli also fouling out and giving up their 6th foul. Tatu would line up and blast it on the low left post to even it back up 3-3.
The back and forth play continued as no more than 20 seconds afterward they again attacked the Brazilian goal and Cirilo gave them back the lead.
Romulo made it 5-3 when he struck a shot that Intelli keeper Guitta was only able to get a piece of and he was visibly frustrated that he was unable to make the stop.
Dinamo were fouled just outside the Intelli crease and chaos ensued with a lot of yelling which resulted in a yellow card for Pula and a surprise ejection for Tatu who was about to come off the bench.
When Romulo’s subsequent spot kick was saved, the referee called it back and ordered it to be retaken which infuriated the Intelli bench. The Russian stepped up for another attempt but shot wide right keeping the score 5-3 at the break for Dinamo.
It was easily the most entertaining 20 minutes of futsal in the competition thus far and the American crowd showed their appreciation with a rousing round of applause as the players left for the dressing room.
Composure and disciplines appeared to be the topic during halftime as things calmed down in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half.
Intelli utilized the 5th attacker hoping to get back into the match. They continually passed the ball around looking for an opening but found a rock solid Moscow defence in their way. They eventually were able to generate a handful of shots but Gustavo kept coming up trumps in goal.
The Dinamo defence held their box formation, cutting off the wings and not allowing any diagonal passes to make it through. They eventually caught Intelli on a counterattack in which Fernandinho scored to make it 6-3.
They nearly made it a four goal lead soon after when Nando headed a ball that hit the crossbar and bounced off the goal line.
Intelli continued to throw everything they could at the their opponents’ goal but simply couldn’t penetrate the iron curtain. Dinamo Moscow become the first ever Russian club to reach the final of Intercontinental Cup.
The championship match between Dinamo and Carlos Barbosa starts at 4pm EST while the third place match between ElPozo and Intelli is slated for a 1:30pm kickoff. Matches are free at www.usafutsal.com.