Portugal come from behind and Azzurri debutants shine against Azerbaijan
– Hosts comeback to sweep aside Estonia
– Azzurri youth shine on Day 1
– Cassano hat-trick has Spanish ahead in scoring charts
Europe’s best teams kicked into brilliant action in Nazaré on Friday, as hosts Portugal welcomed Estonia to the elite division, Switzerland beat France, Spain breezed past Germany and Italy saw off Azerbaijan.
Remember that you can watch the highlights of the matches, as well as tomorrow’s live games, on Recast – click here!
Portugal recover from initial scare against Estonia
The defending champions welcomed newly-promoted Estonia to the sands of Nazaré in a what started as a nervy opening bout.
To the surprise of the home crowd, it was Estonia who drew first blood, when Nõmmiko found himself one-on-one from distance with the Best Goalkeeper of the Euro Winners Cup, Andrade, and calmly struck low to put the hosts on the backfoot.
Narciso’s men frantically tried to claw their way back, but Kotter kept the Portugal strikers at bay until, deep into the second period, Leo Martins hit a bicycle kick which just squeezed past the Estonian keeper.
Be Martins joined his twin brother with a powerful shot which bounced off the sand to give Portugal the lead two minutes later.
From then on it was business as usual for A Seleção, who built a final tally of seven, seeing Leo Martins bag a hat-trick, and Pintado and Andre Lourenço each hit two to hand Estonia a heavy defeat on Day 1.
Late Swiss strikes down Les Bleus
These European neighbours, both of whom have one Euro Beach Soccer League title, tussled in a tight match in Group A, which had Barabe’s men snatch an early advantage when Barbotti put away the opener after just seconds.
The first whistle went at 1-0 to Les Bleus, but bicycle kicks from Dejan Stankovic and Noel Ott turned the score around in the second period.
Angelo Schirinzi’s men had a narrow lead going into the final period, but by the end of it the Swiss had seized control of the match, and the lead was anything but narrow.
Borer, Wanji and Spacca joined the scoring, as well as wonder goals from Stankovic following a well-worked counter attack, and a long-range missile from keeper Eliott took the Switzerland tally to eight.
Gosselin pulled one back towards the end but the bronze finishers in the FIIFA Beach Soccer World Cup cruised to an opening three points in their first EBSL match of 2022.
Debutants star as Azzurri beat Azerbaijan
An initially tight tie between the two-time European champions and Azerbaijan, who had been lucky to avoid relegation from Division A in recent years, ended with the Azzurri clinching a comfortable three points.
It took Italian talisman Gabriele Gori just 30 seconds to open the scoring from the penalty spot. Huseynov poked in an equaliser soon after, but keeper Casapieri blasted through a mass of players to retake the lead before the first whistle.
Mammadov and Mehtiyev kept it tight for most of the match, netting in the second and third period, but the Italians surged ahead in the final minutes.
Zurlo, with a poachers’ goal and a brilliant bicycle kick, marked his first appearance in the 2022 EBSL with a brace, as did debutant Luca Bertacca. The 21-year old hit twice in the final period to help Del Duca’s men build a 7-3 lead to cruise to an opening win.
The 2018 champions kicked off their 2022 campaign in style, with four players making their debuts. Can they reclaim the European crown on home sand once more?
Superior Spain cruise past Germany in opening match
The first-ever winners of the Euro Beach Soccer League, back in 1998 and 1999, went head to head to kick off the 25th edition of the Men’s EBSL.
Germany wasted early chances and Chiky capitalised on this to leap and swing in the first goal of the men’s competition, a stunning volley into the top corner giving the keeper no chance. Domi doubled the lead with a penalty and Chiky’s second saw Spain lead by three at the first whistle.
Lüth pulled one back for Germany in the second period with a penalty, but Cassano was on hand to pin them back once more. Edu and Pedro joined the fray, pouncing on defensive errors to take the score to 6-1, and then the match was wrapped up once and for all by Cassano completing his hat-trick in style in the final period.
A comfortable 8-1 win over Die Mannschaft on Day 1 sees Spain go top in Group B.
For full details on the Euro Beach Soccer League 2022, including fixtures, results and standings, head to beachsoccer.com.