The greatest Futsal game ever?
14 July 2010
A thrilling finale brought the Grand Finals to a terrific end.
10-11 July 2010
Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
Click here for results and stats
The exquisite brand new multi-million pound sports facility at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford hosted a truly breathtaking weekend of Futsal drama this weekend, in front of a large audience of enthralled onlookers. The FA National Futsal Leagues reached their conclusion with the Grand Finals providing a fitting climax to a long season, and Helvecia once again confirmed their qualities by retaining the status of National Champions.
Although Helvecia retained the top prize in English Futsal for the third year on the spin, it was not as straightforward as they would have hoped. The three divisions of The FA National Futsal Leagues started their season back in January, with the top two teams from the North, Midlands and South Leagues heading to the Grand Finals to determine the National Futsal Champion for 2010.
Sheffield and Team United Birmingham, the respective Northern and Midlands league champions were highly fancied prior to the Grand Finals as being realistic challengers to break the dominance that southern teams have had in Futsal over recent years. And Sheffield started brightly in the first game of the Grand Finals as they set an impressive benchmark for the other clubs to follow by slamming 12 goals past a weakened Chippenham side. Admittedly, the result was probably a little harsh on Chippenham who were rather wasteful in front of goal; but Sheffield were lethal – converting almost every chance that came their way, with England international Ben Mortlock scoring probably the pick of the goals with a long-distance pile driver that found its way into the top-corner.
Team United unfortunately did not start quite as impressively, losing 6-1 to Spartans. Spartans, who several weeks before had edged out Helvecia to claim the southern league title, were arguably coming into the Finals as the in-form team. Team United took the lead early on, but the dominant Spartans soon imposed their qualities, with their captain and man-of-the match Bruno Ferrage notching two classy finishes.
To stand any chance of progressing to The Final, Team United needed to beat a strong Manchester side and then hope Manchester could get a result against Spartans. A close encounter with Manchester eventually saw Team United narrowly winning 3-2, with England star Thomas Obasi shining for the Birmingham outfit. In the last game of the group, Manchester were unable to defeat Ferrage and his Spartan team. The Spartan captain again scored twice and was voted man-of-the-match as Spartans ran-out 5-4 victors. Manchester had bravely fought back from two goals behind and had made the last few minutes very uncomfortable for the Spartans, and were perhaps unlucky not to get something from the game. This win meant Spartans progressed to The Final.
In the other group, following their big defeat to Sheffield, Chippenham had the unenviable task of taking on Helvecia, but at least they had their talisman Luke Ballinger, the England Captain, returning from suspension. In some quarters, people had suggested that perhaps Helvecia were not as strong as previous years, but their performance against Chippenham and then Sheffield sent out a resounding message to the Futsal world. Ballinger’s hat-trick was to little avail, as Chippenham were brushed aside emphatically with a 12-4 demolition. The Helvecia captain Raoni Medina, led the way with three goals and following this up with a further hat-trick in the second game against Sheffield. The Northern champions had looked strong in their first match, but were ruthlessly taken apart by Medina and his men, as Helvecia ran out 13-2 winners to progress to a final with Spartans, scoring 25 goals in just two games.
The two Southern giants facing each other in The Final promised to be a riveting and compelling match. But it turned out to be a far better contest than anybody could have possibly anticipated – arguably one of the best ever Futsal matches to be played in this country. The match started at a gruelling tempo, with both teams fizzing the ball around the court demonstrating incredible technique and movement. The game never slowed, with the intensity of the play being maintained throughout, and both teams bringing the best out of each other.
Helvecia took the lead after nine minutes with a goal by William Neubecker, and the Spartans took this as some form of personal affront, responding immediately with a classy worked goal by Ricardo Ferreira. Spartans then piled on the pressure with Ferreira scoring twice more and Ferrage getting on the score sheet during a three minute spell that threatened to derail Helvecia’s hopes. 4-1 leading into half-time would have left Helvecia with a mountain to climb, but Elizandro Lima’s free-kick a few moments before the interval gave the reigning champions a lifeline.
The second half commenced with the same furious intensity but also with the same incredible high quality. The Helvecia players immediately got back to the task of reducing the deficit. Adriano Hoelzle, Medina and Bruno Lisboa within three minutes of the start of the second half had turned the match upside down with three Helvecia goals giving them a 5-4 lead. Spartans looked lost and Helvecia capitalised through Neubecker to give them a two goal cushion.
Helvecia looked confident that they had broken the spirit of the Spartans team and had done enough to win. But in the process of getting their two goal advantage, they had also committed five fouls and were walking a tight-rope: anymore fouls would result in Spartans being awarded a long-penalty. Inevitably Spartans managed to draw a foul from Helvecia, presenting Ricardo Ferreira with a great chance to draw closer to Helvecia. He missed to the resounding frustration of the Spartan supporters. There was still six minutes remaining, and Helvecia had not learnt from their earlier mistake and committed yet another foul. Bruno Vittorino this time made no mistake from the penalty spot, although Helvecia almost immediately responded by scoring through Moreira to re-establish their two goal lead; it was now 7-5. With one minute and 30 seconds remaining, Spartans threw everything they had at the Helvecia goal, hitting the post and crossbar numerous times, and eventually they got the break they needed following a goalmouth scramble that led to Helvecia scoring an own-goal. With seconds remaining, Helvecia committed another foul and Bruno Vittorino did the unthinkable by levelling the game for Spartans at 7-7 and sending the game into extra-time.
After collecting their thoughts and composure, Helvecia started extra-time the brightest, although both teams continued to demonstrate outstanding Futsal technique and craft. Adriano Hoelzle for Helvecia, seemed to get stronger and stronger and Spartans simply couldn’t keep up with his movement. Hoelzle scored an incredible four goals in the extra-time period to take his goal tally for the game to five, whilst Vittorino claimed his hat-trick for Spartans by adding one further goal from the penalty spot after yet another careless foul from Helvecia. The final score finished 11-8 to Helvecia, allowing them to claim their third title championship in a row. But this was an exceptional final, with so many twists and turns, that both teams should be proud at what they contributed to an unbelievable match that truly represented all of the positive elements in Futsal. This magical Final was very much appreciated by the large crowd, and demonstrates the ongoing development of The FA National Futsal Leagues.