Ukraine, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal will contest the semi-finals of the European Games in Minsk
Spain’s Antonio was the hero against Italy as his last-minute wonder goal broke Italian hearts to send La Roja into the final four, while Switzerland registered the tournament’s biggest win so far against Romania.
In Group A, Portugal joined Ukraine in the next round, knocking out Belarus who will now compete against Italy, Russia and Romania for fifth place.
Spain will meet Switzerland in their semi-final match-up, as Portugal are set to face Ukraine.
Italy 5-6 Spain
An EBSL final, a World Beach Games Qualifier semi-final and now a battle to reach the semi-finals of the European Games; these Mediterranean rivals have certainly seen a lot of each other in recent months…
Only victory would see either Spain or Italy qualify for the semi-finals of the European Games alongside Ukraine.
Spain enjoyed the majority of the attacking chances in the opening period, but Frainetti jumped on a loose ball to volley in an opener for Italy.
Joaquin Alonso’s men pushed on but couldn’t break through the Italian defence and the second period began with Italy leading. Marinai doubled the lead but Antonio smashed in a screamer from the kick off to restore the deficit to just one goal.
Adri Frutos then slid in at the far post to hit a leveller but the second period ended with Italy leading once more, when Zurlo gave Dona no chance with an incredible volley.
Llorenç then struck after just seconds of the final period to equalise but minutes later, Palazzollo put Italy ahead yet again. They were struggling to shake off the Spaniards and when Gori scored a penalty in the last minute, there was Antonio once more to equalize and make it 5-5.
Completing his hat-trick in style, Antonio then chipped Simone del Mestre between the Italian posts with a freekick to put La Roja ahead for the first time in the match, with less than a minute on the clock.
Spain controlled the last moments to seal all three points, top the group and make it to the semi-finals. The heartbroken Italians will now have to play for fifth place in the remaining matches in Minsk.
Goals: 1-0: Frainetti, min. 3 (1); 2-0: Marinai, min. 4 (2); 2-1: Antonio, min. 4 (2); 2-2: Adri Frutos, min. 0 (2); 3-2: Zurlo, min. 0 (2); 3-3: Llorenç, min. 11 (3); 4-3: Palazzollo, min. 8 (3); 4-4: Eduard, min. 2 (3); 5-4: Gori, min. 1 (3); 5-5: Antonio, min. 1 (3); 5-6: Antonio, min. 0 (3);
Belarus 3-7 Portugal
When the hosts met previous world champions Portugal in their final Group A fixture, both sides’ objective was clear: win to make the semi-finals.
Portugal had regained hope of a gold medal with a decisive victory over Romania in their previous game, but it was the as-of-yet undefeated Belarus who drew first blood, when Bokach opened the scoring.
Jordan hit back but Samsonov scored his third of the European Games to retake the lead straight from the kick off. Portugal then took turned the tables as Von and Leo Martins each found the net just before the first break.
Samsonov equalised for the hosts and most of the second period was played at 3-3, until the final two minutes where Von put Mario Narciso’s men ahead once more. Be Martins then pushed the lead to 3-5 and Belarus went into the final period trailing.
It was in the last 12 minutes that Portugal really started to flex their muscles, with a second goal from Jordan Santos and Belchior also getting his name on the match report.
This pushed their advantage to a four-goal cushion by the time the final whistle went, and the Portuguese top the group and make it to the next stage.
Belarus will take on Russia in the battle for fifth place tomorrow while Portugal will face off against Ukraine in the semi-final.
Goals: 1-0: Bokach, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Jordan, min. 8 (1); 2-1: Samsonov, min. 8 (1); 2-2: Von, min. 3 (1); 2-3: Leo Martins, min. 2 (1); 3-3: Samsonov, min. 9 (2); 3-4: Von, min. 2 (2); 3-5: Be Martins, min. 1 (2); 3-6: Jordan, min. 6 (3); 3-7: Belchior, min. 3 (3);
Switzerland 10-0 Romania
The last chance at picking up points for the already-eliminated Romania came against Switzerland, who still had a shot at making the next round despite yesterday’s defeat.
After picking up a hat-trick in the previous match, Wuest continued his prolific goal-scoring form against Romania, getting his side off the mark after a matter of minutes. The bout was close initially, and Romania looked as if they would just be trailing by a single goal at the first break.
But with a minute to go, Stankovic and Steinmann joined their teammate on the scoresheet to make it three. After the restart the Swiss attacks continued, as Stankovic secured a double and Ostgen made it five.
Another five goals in the third and final period saw the Romanians off once and for all, with Stankovic netting a hat-trick and Noel Ott also getting on the scoresheet.
Steinmann and Wuest each got a brace in what turned out to be the biggest win at the Games so far.
Romania go home without having picked up any points in Minsk, as the Swiss became the first side to make the semi-finals; but who would join them?
Goals: 1-0: Wuest, min. 8 (1); 2-0: Stankovic, min. 1 (1); 3-0: Steinmann, min. 1 (1); 4-0: Stankovic, min. 7 (2); 5-0: Ostgen, min. 6 (2); 6-0: Stankovic, min. 11 (3); 7-0: Stankovic, min. 9 (3); 8-0: Steinmann, min. 7 (3); 9-0: Wuest, min. 6 (3); 10-0: Ott, min. 4 (3);
Russia 5-1 Ukraine
Russia had been dealt a second defeat in their previous match, and today’s game against Ukraine would be a chance at some last-minute points in the group stages, having already been knocked out of the running for gold.
Ukraine however, had sealed their spot in the semi-finals with a game still to play thanks to two wins in their opening matches – against both finalists of the European league, no less!
As always when these powerhouses of beach soccer meet, the match began as a close affair, with the Ukrainian defence perhaps the more strained of the two.
A break in the stalemate didn’t come until the second period, when Kryshanov found the net and just a matter of minutes later, Paporotnyi was on hand to bury a second, doubling the advantage.
As the final period began, Zemskov made it three, and just when Ukraine were beginning to look defeated, they piled on the pressure in search of equalising goals. They got off the mark through their keeper Sydorenko, known for his goal-scoring abilities, and reduced the deficit to just two once more.
The Russians, however, had found their rhythm, and Shishin and Romanov pushed the lead to 5-1 before the final whistle sounded.
Despite the defeat, Ukraine are through to the semi-finals, while Russia will contend for as high a finishing place as possible in the remaining matches.
Goals: 1-0: Kryshanov, min. 9 (2); 2-0: Paporotnyi, min. 7 (2); 3-0: Zemskov, min. 11 (3); 3-1: Sydorenko, min. 9 (3); 4-1: Shishin, min. 2 (3); 5-1: Romanov, min. 2 (3);
Stay up to date on the fixtures, results and standing of European Games Minsk 2019 on the Beach Soccer Worldwide website.