Final eight pairings decided at World Beach Games European Qualifier in Catania
– Hosts to face Ukraine in knockouts after beating France
– Portugal overrun Germany to set up QF against Turkey
– Gori hits goal number eight to remain top of the scoring charts
The ANOC World Beach Games European Qualifier now has its quarter-finalist pairings confirmed. Friday will see the following knockout matches take place at the See Sicily Arena Beach Stadium:
• Switzerland v France
• Spain v Germany
• Portugal v Turkey
• Italy v Ukraine
Matchday 3 saw Italy beat France, Portugal put 12 past Germany, Switzerland fought difficult tie against Ukraine but walked away with the points, while Spain defeated Turkey in another thrilling bout.
Italy rally late to defeat France
With the home crowd cheering for the Squadra Azzurra, Italy and France faced each other with the first place of the group yet to be decided.
Halfway into a tight first period, Luca Bertacca fired a powerful long-range free-kick into the top corner of Salazar’s net, and the French keeper had no chance of preventing Italy’s first goal.
France equalised with a penalty scored by Belhomme, punishing a foul by Josep Jr. three minutes into the second period, but Alessandro Remedi put the hosts back leading with a bicycle kick concluding a quick counter-attack moments later.
With a narrow margin on the scoreboard Italy went for a strong start in the final period and Tomasso Fazzini was quick to react on the rebound to a confusing moment making it three-one.
Emmanuele Zurlo had two good chances to extend the hosts’ lead but Germán Salazar kept the French alive with some crucial saves, until one minute before the end when the match was killed off with Gori double, taking the number 10 back into the lead in the scoring race in Catania.
Their win on Day 3 means that the Azzurri will now face Ukraine in Friday’s quarter-final.
Portugal overwhelm Germany to seize Group B top spot
Portugal ran riot in their final group game, putting 12 past Die Mannschaft to breeze to their second victory in Catania.
Germany claimed the first kick-off of the match, but lost the ball immediately to Andre Lourenço who smashed in the opening goal after just seconds. A quickfire Leo Martins double made it three and then brother Bê looped in a cheeky chip for four.
Pintado and Batalha got on the scoresheet in the second period, putting more distance between the two sides, but David Hoeveler finally gotGermany off the mark to make it 6-1. Körner buried a freekick but Portugal kept coming with wave after wave of fresh attacks.
Leo Martins took his tally to four, while Pintado and Lourenço each secured a brace heading into the final period with the score at 11-2.
A goal at either end, courtesy of a hat-trick completing strike from Pinado and another German consolation from Joscha Metzler, did little to alter the outcome of the match, and Portugal took a surprisingly simple victory on Day 3 in Catania. They will now face Turkey in the quarter-finals, while Germany are set to go up against Spain.
Switzerland top Group C thanks to Ott and Stankovic braces
The two top teams in Group C went head-to-head to decide who would finish in first, and the Swiss took the lead just before the first break with a screamer from their star number 10, Noel Ott, who curled the opener into the top corner.
At the start of the next period, keeper Eliott was given too much space to run into and fire in a second for Schirinzi’s side. An unfortunate own goal for Ukraine extended the distance to three goals just moments later and the men in yellow were falling behind.
Stankovic dispossessed the goalkeeper to slot into an open net, but then Switzerland lost Eliott, voted the world’s Best Goalkeeper last November, after a direct red, meaning that he will miss their all-important quarter-final. Stankovic put away his second, pouncing on another defensive error to push the Swiss lead to 5-0.
With outfield players filling in between the sticks for both sides, Ukraine finally got off the mark with long-range goals from Korniichuk (2) and Zavorotnyi, but Ott and Spacca powered in brilliant strikes to take the final score to 7-3.
Both sides will play in Friday’s quarter-finals, where the tickets to the World Beach Games in Bali will be fought for.
Chiky double seals top spot finish in Group D for Spain
Spain and Turkey stepped on the sand with two wins each, which meant that the victor would finish top of the group.
The beginning of the game couldn’t have been more entertaining: Recep scored from the kick-off with a well-placed shot and the Spanish response was immediate as Chiky Ardil found some space to fire a crossed shot, equalising with only six seconds played. Two minutes before the break, Kuman turned the result around with a clinical free-kick.
Three minutes into the second period, Chiky flicked a Dona pass directly to Arias who finished off the three-touch move to make it 3-1 on the scoreboard. Turkey would cut the distance again to one goal as Efe Lorenzo scored from a free-kick.
In the final period Spain earned again a two-goal lead though Cassano, but four minutes before the final whistle Cem Keksin was quick to intercept a pass in Spain’s defence and put the match back to discussion.
But it didn’t take long for Mejias to score Spain’s fifth in a well-placed free-kick, and as Turkey were looking to get something out of the match, Chiky Ardil scored his second goal to secure the group top spot for the Spanish, before Bariş netted a bicycle kick to kill the game off.
Czech Republic bag first win in Catania to claim third in Group D
Folejtar, Hurab and Radosta got the Czech off the mark in the opening period, with the latter two building on their goal scoring from the previous day,
Sweden trailed 3-0 going into the second period but Olofosson fired home to get them off the mark, until Czech captain Vyhnal put away two in quick succession to increase the gap.
Czech Republic sealed a simple 6-1 victory in the end, finishing third in the group, and will face Moldova in the playoffs for finishing places.
DAY 3 RESULTS (31/08)
Czech Republic 6-1 Sweden
Switzerland 7-3 Ukraine
Spain 6-4 Turkey
Portugal 12-3 Germany
Italy 5-1 France
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.