10 Jun Baku United retain their national Futsal title for third successive year after win over Birmingham United
The victory meant that the champions retained their national crown and qualify 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 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.
Tobe drew first blood when Agon Rexha beat his marker Pol Viada and was able to find his team-mate at the far post for a simple tap-in.
Despite Birmingham’s resilient efforts, Baku continued to press for the second and the crowd didn’t have long to wait when three minutes later Tobias Seeto’s brilliant backheel found Santos, who stroked the ball into an empty net.
The FA National League top scorer Jose Lozano inevitably got his name on the score-sheet a minute before the half-time whistle, scoring from a tight angle after Jonathan Camera provided him with the lofted assist. He then showed the clinical finishing that has netted him 58 goals this season.
Youngster Palfreeman got his first Grand Finals goal in the 25th minute, applying the final touch in a crowded box following Santos’ pass from the wing.
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 distance was one of their best chances as it rattled the crossbar.
But Baku’s best was saved until last with their fifth and final goal in the 34th minute. Ofong set off on a mazy run from the halfway line, finding Lozano on the edge of the box. He back-heeled through to the striker, who was able to coolly finish in the bottom corner to finish 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: 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
Baku United: 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.
Goals: Tobe (11), Fabricio (14), Lozano (20), Palfreeman (26), Ofong (34)
Report by Billy Taylor