09 Jun Baku retain FA Futsal National title for third time
Birmingham United 0 – 5 Baku United FC
Baku United retained their National title at the weekend claiming the third in the process following a 5-0 win over Birmingham United, as well qualifying for the UEFA Futsal Cup.
Despite a relatively even opening 10 minutes, Baku finished the first half 3-0 up thanks to strikes from Roberto Tobe, Fabricio Santos and Jose Lozano. The first half was not all Baku’s with Birmingham having notable chances but they were unable to capitalise.
The impressive win was rounded off in the second half as Liam Palfreeman’s scrappy goal and a beautifully worked strike from Kenedy Ofong made sure there was no comeback from the Midlands team.
The opening moments of the game saw Baku retain possession well but Birmingham were clearly well drilled to deal with any immediate threats to their goal. Carlos Munoz and Agon Rexha both went close early on, but with opposing goalkeeper Arnou Vallverdu in inspired form, scoring was never going to be an easy task.
Jose Carlos Martinez was at the heart of the defence and attack for Birmingham and had some opportunities of his own but his effort on the fourth minute mark was tame but on target. The Midlands Champions then had the best chance of the match, Martinez’s cross was almost inch perfect to find Declan Sullivan at the far post, but the Englishman couldn’t connect for what would’ve been a certain goal.
Birmingham’s confidence would take a knock as Roberto Tobe who had earlier hit the post drew first blood in the final when Rexha beat his marker Pol Viada and was able to find Tobe at the far post for a simple tap-in.
Despite Birmingham’s resilient efforts, Baku continued to press for the second. The crowd didn’t have long to wait when three minutes later Tobias Seeto brilliant backheel found Fabricio Santos who stroked the ball into an empty net.
The most controversial moment of the half came when Martinez was charging towards goal with only Alcides Da Silva to beat before he was brought down by Tobe who pulled his shirt. The Spaniard was given a yellow card for the challenge and was incredibly lucky to escape without a red.
The FA National League top scorer Jose Lozano inevitably got his name on the score buy phentermine san diego sheet a minute before the half time whistle. When he did well to score from a tight angle after Jonathan Camera provided him with the lofted assist, showing the clinical finishing that has netted him 58 goals this season.
Being 3-0 up meant Baku were able to relax a bit more in the second half and it showed as the match started to lose its intensity with both sides holding possession and Birmingham unable to get past Da Silva in goal. Shots by Camera, Pau Lopez and Ofong didn’t particularly trouble either goalkeeper.
Youngster Palfreeman got his first Grand Finals goal in the 25th minute, applying the final touch in a crowded box following Fabricio Santos’s pass from the wing. Despite Vallverdu’s best attempts to scoop the ball away, the referee’s had deemed that the shot was over the line.
Birmingham coach Ernest Cardona featured fairly regularly throughout the final and was key to their defensive stability and also provided an attacking threat. His turn and shot from a distance was one of their best chances as it rattled the crossbar.
Baku’s best was saved until last with their fifth and final goal in the 34th minute. Kenedy Ofong set upon a mazy run from the halfway line finding Lozano on the edge of the box, who backheeled back to the striker who was able to coolly finish in the bottom corner in what was an outstanding piece of play.
Birmingham were desperate to grab a consolation goal in what was their first Grand Finals since 2011. Lopez went close before Cardona became a fly goalkeeper to give the Midlands side more options going forward. Blasco and Lopez had opportunities at the end of the game but failed to topple a relaxed Baku defence, who finished the game with another clean sheet.
Birmingham United: None
Baku United: Tobe (11), Fabricio (14), Lozano (20), Palfreeman (26), Ofong (34)
2) Dan Guy
4) Alex Pinero
7) Jose Carlos Martinez
8) Lewis Scott
10) Eric Blasco
11) Pau Lopez
12) Ernest Cardona
13) Arnou Vallverdu (GK)
14) Declan Sullivan
15) Pol Viada
17) David Capel
1) James Dalton (GK)
3) Agon Rexha (c)
4) Doug Reed
6) Roberto Tobe
7) Kenedy Ofong
10) Tobias Seeto
11) Fabricio Santos
12) Alcides Da Silva (GK)
14) Jonathan Camera
16) Liam Palfreeman
18) Carlos Munoz
21) Jose Lozano