FA National Futsal League Grand Final
Baku United have won the FA National Futsal League Grand Finals for the second consecutive year after recording a compelling 5-1 victory against Manchester in a tightly contested match, with all six goals coming in the second half at St George’s Park.
Strikes from Johnathan Camera, Marcelo, Carlos Munoz and a brace from captain Kevin Ramirez was enough to guarantee Baku United a place in the UEFA Futsal League next season as national champions.
The Southern Division side had to be patient and endured a whole 24 minutes without scoring against a resilient Manchester side. In the opening moments, Marcelo was the main source of danger but found himself regularly blocked by a solid defence lead by captain Stuart Cook.
The best chance of the first half fell to Manchester on the 11th minute. King sped down the wing and played a superb, diagonal ball across the floor to the lurking Ilya Ovechkin who only needed to make slight contact in order to divert the ball past Antonio Gomez, but he failed to provide the connection.
A majority of the opportunities in the first half were Baku’s, but thanks to goalkeeper Magalhaes they remained frustrated. Quick-reaction stops from Marcelo and Carlos Munoz just before the half-time whistle meant that both teams went into the break still unseparated, despite the reigning champions having an overwhelming amount of the possession.
Their joy was short lived as Manchester immediately bounced back in emphatic fashion. Impact substitution Paul Thompson played in a fast, low ball across the box which found King in the centre. The lively attacker seemed to miscontrol the ball as it came to him but managed to improvise a shot while lying on the ground to finally get the Northern Division champions back on level terms.
Goal number three and four for Baku came in the space of three minutes. Agon Rexha’s blocked shot resulted in a corner, which was quickly taken and then dispatched by Camera in fairly simple circumstances. Camera turned provider for the next goal when his free-kick was played to Marcelo in similar fashion to the previous goal and a similar result was inevitable.
Frank Chiarella’s side were trying to get themselves back into the game but found this difficult without their inspirational skipper. In the meantime, Baku were controlling their possession a lot more comfortably and even managed to score for a fifth time. Maglahaes came charging out to meet a loose ball but his attempted pass found the feet of Carlos Munoz inside his own half. Despite the goal being a fair distance away, Munoz managed to execute the perfect lob and find the net to score with sublime precession.
With two minutes of the match remaining, both sides decided to change their personnel in goal. Russell Astle-Coates came on to replace Magalhaes and James Dalton was substituted on for Antonio Gomez. The England international found time to make an impact when he pulled of a fantastic double save in the dying embers of the game, using his head to stop one of the shots.
Baku United 5-1 Manchester (HT: 0-0)
Manchester Goalscorer: King (24)
1. James Dalton
4. Doug Reed
9. Jesus Hurtado
11. Marcelo Dos Reis Soares
14. Jonathan Camara
18. Carlos Munoz
2. Anthony Haralambous
4. Abdullah Mohamed
7. Ilya Ovechkin
10. Sam Richardson
12. Stuart Cook (c)
14. Sean Bynoe
17. Paul Thompson