The hosts kicked off the campaign with a win while Sweden made their beach soccer debut at the World Beach Games Qualifier
– Italy, Spain and Switzerland seal first wins
– Sweden make their official debut in tight match against Spain
– Italy’s Privitera hits hat-trick to lead scoring
The Women’s ANOC World Beach Games European Qualifier in Catania began on Wednesday, as debutants Sweden impressed against the current gold medallists Spain, Italy downed Czech Republic and Switzerland took points against Ukraine.
Three points for Italy, three goals for Privitera
The hosts’ debut in the competition was against Czech Republic with both teams looking for a positive start and an important win in the race to Bali.
Angela Ruotolo made a couple good saves to keep the Czechs at bay but an own-goal from Ianella would set the difference between both teams in the first period.
The Italians came back from the break with a renewed spirit and equalised through Vecchione. Less than a minute later, the hosts took the lead for the first time in the game with Illiano firing a free-kick into the back of the net.
But the Czechs would equalise immediately with Ruotolo deflecting a kicked throw-in into her own net. It was the most frenetic moment in the second period as less than a minute later Privitera put the hosts back in front. The Italians would go into the final period with a two-goal lead, courtesy of a long-range shot from Vecchione, her second goal of the game.
Italy started the third period like they finished the third, and in a well-driven counter-attack Maiorca assisted Privitera who finished successfully for her second goal. Italy didn’t take their foot off the pedal, creating many occasions up front and Veronica Privitera sealed a hat-trick with a pass from Claudia Saggion to put the final score at 6-2.
Cris double downs debutant Swedes
In their first-ever official beach soccer match, Sweden impressed against the defending World Beach Games gold medallists, netting their first two goals on the sand – one of which a screamer from Kajsa – but Spain take the opening points in Catania
Cris, Euro Winners Cup champion with Terrassa Bonaire, put away the first goal of the match from a corner, but moments later Sweden’s first official goal was scored by Matilda, also from a corner, to equalise for the debutants.
Sara Tui calmly converted a second for Cristian Mendez’s side to lead at the break, and Manau made it 3-1 as the second period began. But once more, the Swedes were there to stop La Roja building a comfortable lead, as Kajsa snuck a brilliantly taken shot in at the far post to cut the difference to just one.
Far from enjoying a big advantage, Spain pressed for a fourth, which came eventually from Cris, her second of the match. The number 11 expertly turned her marker to slot home, wrapping up the points for the world’s top-ranked team.
Switzerland edge tight match against Ukraine
Doubles from goalkeeper Christine Schärer and Sara Garcia hand Swiss Day 1 win to draw level with Spain at the top of Group B.
Keeper Schärer beat her opposite number from distance to open the scoring for Switzerland, but Dubytska kept calm in a one-on-one to slot home an equalise for Ukraine. The Nati would lead at the first whistle though, as Garcia cheekily scored a direct from a corner to make it 2-1.
Dekhtiar pulled the women in yellow back after the break with a shot from a seemingly impossible distance, keeping the match tantalisingly close. Another goal at either end had the scores tied heading into the final third, where the deadlock was eventually broken…
Schärer secured her brace with another excellent shot from her own area, which bounced off the bar before crossing the line and Garcia put the match to bed with a fifth for Franziska Steinemann’s side. The Swiss go level on points with Spain.
DAY 1 RESULTS (31/08)
Sweden 2-4 Spain
Switzerland 5-3 Ukraine
Italy 6-2 Czech Republic
The matches are scheduled from 29 August to 4 September at See Sicily Arena Beach Stadium, and will decide which five men’s and four women’s national teams will represent Europe at the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games in Bali.
For full details on the ANOC World Beach Games European Qualifier Catania 2022, head to beachsoccer.com.