The last step in any achievement is very often the hardest. The reigning European futsal champions, Spartak Moscow had a chance to test this rule in their third game against El Santo of Argentina.
After taking the edge in the first two fixtures, the hosts needed at least a draw to claim the first Intercontinental Cup in the history of the sport.
The Muscovites, however, demonstrated a very solid performance, as the match got under way. Aleksey Chechukevich found the net 10 minutes into the game. And seconds afterwards Aleksey Petrov doubled his team's lead with an unstoppable distant strike. But the blitzkrieg was not over as Spartak's Maksim Buntov added a third goal within two minutes.
Three to nothing midway through the first half, and the visitors' Sebastian De Diego got one back for the Argentineans just before the half-time buzzer.
“The stakes were very high at this event – the title of the World's best team, and after the first 20 minutes we felt no quietness. We knew, they would come out and fight until the very end. We learned this from the previous games,” Spartak captain Andrey Georgievsky noted after the game.
And El Santo, indeed, took control as the second half kicked-off. Gustavo Gallardo's men put a great deal of pressure on the Russian team. Sometimes this pressure was getting beyond the referees' control.
The visiting side's rough tackles led to a number of bookings and even red cards.
The tactics almost worked for the South America Champions. Andres Bragagnolo found the net twice during the last three minutes, making it three-all with just 50 seconds to play.
But Spartak didn't let this final go into Game Four, as the hosts stood up to the draw, which secured them an overall victory.
“We are happy to win here and we all hope that such competitions would become annual, and also that futsal's popularity in Russia will be increasing,” said Spartak coach Aleksandr Khamidulin.
So the first Intercontinental Cup stays in Moscow to the admiration of the club's devoted fans. Their numbers may not be many, but Spartak's international success could easily change things.