Iran kick their title-regaining campaign off by downing Paraguay as hosts also win
– Brazil only team yet to concede after Day 1
– Previous champions down Paraguay
– Hosts down Spain in thriller
Day 1 of the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2022 saw the two previous champions net six to take wins as the hosts and World Cup runners-up Japan also seal three points
Hulk hits a double as Brazil despatch Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s first test was against the world’s third-ranked team, Brazil. Marco Octavio’s men took no time at all to open the scoring as Mauricinho set up captain Catarino to rifle in number one.
Igor redirected a corner in for number two, but Saudi Arabia did well to keep a side 32 places above them in the official world ranking at bay. The Saudis, who will host the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup next week, kept the Brazilian firepower our for the whole second period, but Filipe hit a freekick from distance to make it three in the final third.
Brendo’s calm finish pushed the lead to four and then a late double from the upcoming superstar of the Seleção Canarinho, Edson Hulk, wrapped up simple points for Brazil in their first Intercontinental Cup match since 2018.
The 2017 world champions will go up against Spain in tomorrow’s game, while Saudi Arabia will take on their Emirati hosts.
Previous champions put six past Paraguay for three points
What began as a tight battle between the previous Intercontinental kings and the South American champions got underway with an early penalty going to La Albirroja, which the number 10 Benitez buried with confidence.
Iran got off the mark soon after though Moktari, moments before Ali Mirshekari picked the pocket of an opponent, dribbled past another and blasted in number two in a brilliant individual goal. Just before the break, an own goal extended the lead to 3-1 to the delight of the Iranian section of the crowd.
In the neutral section was ex-French and Italian internationals, Eric Abidal and Marco Materazzi, who were enjoying a high-class match on Day 1 in Dubai. Gonzalez pulled Paraguay back in the second period, but Iran were there once more, pushing their advantage to three through Ahmadzadeh and Shir.
Ali Mirshekari wrapped up the points with a late strike as the three-time winners of the Intercontinental Cup stamped their dominance on the initially close game, going level on points with Japan in Group B.
Hosts bag opening win in Dubai
In their fourth consecutive Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, Spain went up against the hosts in the first match in Group A.
Ahmed Beshr converted the first goal of the game, slotting a penalty calmly past Dona in the Spanish goal. Oliver equalised for Spain just moments later but Rashed took his chance from close range to smash in a second for UAE.
Spain found an equaliser through an unfortunate own goal, and the sides went into the second period all square at 2-2.
A third came for the Emirati, the second own goal of the match, as a misplaced back pass from Jose Arias handed the UAE the advantage, but David Ardil flashed a long-range freekick across the sand to level yet again.
A hard-fought final period saw a spectacular winner make the difference, and it came from Emirati keeper Bahri who sent a rocket past his opposite number, getting the hosts off to a winning start in Group A.
Okuyama brace seals points for Japan
The last time these sides met, it was at the Mundialito in Gran Canaria, where the Americans came out 2-0 winners.
However it was Okuyama who opened the scoring for the Japanese after just minutes of play, but Dilbert’s bouncing shot equalised moments later. The Samurai number 11 slid in at the near post to power in a header from a corner to make it 2-1.
Then World Winners champion with Real Münster, Oba, rose high to head in a third and Japan were in control at the first break.
USA threatened to slash the difference but Ginoza leapt right and left between the Japanese sticks to keep the scoreline unchanged as the final period began.
An impressive defensive display saw the Stars & Stripes unable to find the net again, as Japan held strong to end the match at 3-1, taking an essential three points on Day 1 in Group B.
USA 1-3 Japan
Spain 3-4 UAE
Saudi Arabia 0-6 Brazil
Paraguay 2-6 Iran
For full details on the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2022, including fixtures, results and standings, head to beachsoccer.com.