The Lionesses overwhelmed Czech Republic to send them and groupmates Italy to the 2023 World Beach Games
– England and Italy claim first qualification spots
– Sweden take first official win to down Switzerland
– Spain fall to Ukraine as Group B is still wide open
England ran riot against Czech Republic to become the first team to qualify, alongside groupmates Italy, to the 2023 World Beach Games in Bali.
The Group B teams, however, will play in straight shootout for the World Beach Games places in an action-packed matchday on Friday, after Sweden claimed their first official victory on the sand, and Ukraine shocked Spain.
England clinch the first ticket to Bali
A dominant performance against Czech Republic from Steven Black’s Lionesses saw them claim the first place in the World Beach Games for themselves and Group A rivals Italy.
The first goal of the match saw Meiwald catch the Czech keeper off guard as she poked in England’s first of the tournament after just minutes of the match.
In the second period, Alisha Buckingham blasted in an effort from distance to extend the Lionesses’ lead. Defensive lapses opened the door for Wendy Martin to power home a double late in the second period, both goals coming from close range.
In the final third, Hannah Short found herself unmarked at the back post and turned in goal number five for England, clinching the first place at the 2023 World Beach Games in emphatic style.
They will now face the Italian hosts tomorrow to decide who takes the group top spot in Catania.
Sweden take first official win
The match that opened the second day of the competition saw Switzerland facing a Sweden side that were still looking for their first official points on the sand.
Ebba broke the deadlock after five minutes but the Swiss found an equaliser with a bicycle kick by Keller that lobbed the Swedish goalkeeper. Ebba’s brace less than a minute later restored Sweden’s lead but in the last second of the period, an own-goal by Julia levelled the game again.
In the second period it stayed level with both teams trying to find the back of the net but without success, meaning the two sides would go into the final 12 minutes all square.
Two minutes in, Tuva put the Swedish back leading with a shot on the turn and she would extend the lead three minutes later putting Sweden in a comfortable position on the scoreboard to the joy of the Swedish men’s teams in the stands. The women is yellow held on to the result, achieving their first ever international win, and opening the group wide open in the process.
Ukraine stun Spain to open up Group B
Ukraine took an historic win over the world’s top-ranked women’s side with a late free kick edging a low-scoring tie.
The first period ended with the strikers frustrated, but the keepers happy as neither team found the net. However, in the second period, Kostiuk finally broke her way through to upset the balance, redirecting a long shot from her goalkeeper to open the scoring.
Maria Carbacho stepped up a matter of minutes later to rifle a free kick into the top corner for La Roja, from what seemed an impossible distance, equalising with a contender for the goal of the tournament.
It was the narrowest of margins which meant that Friday’s final group matches would be straight shootouts for tickets to Bali, as Vypasniak powered in a clinical free kick in the dying moments of the match to down La Roja in an historic victory for Ukraine. Tomorrow they will take on Sweden for a place at the 2023 World Beach Games.
Moldova and Czech Republic were the first teams to step on the sand to define the ninth-to-twelfth-place playoff.
After just 17 seconds, Graur was sent off for a foul close to the goal, and Andrle converted the free kick into Czech Republic’s first, and only, goal of the first 12 minutes.
Moldova scored early in the second period through Eremia, then Eugeni Borovschi gave the Moldovans the lead two minutes later. The Czech equalised through a bicycle kick from Borovička, and the third period started with the sides drawing, but Podlesnov restored the Moldovan lead.
Borovschi would put Moldova two goals ahead as he headed the fourth goal in, but Ignat miscalculated to put the ball into his own goal to restore Czech hopes. Leonid Podlesnov stepped up though to take the final result in five goals to three, a first win for the newly-promoted EBSL Division A side.
In the other playoff match, the first period ended in a tight stalemate, but Azerbaijan went ahead early on in the middle section against Norway, as Jomard and Zeynalli found the net in the opening minute.
Captain Li pulled the Nordic side back before the second break, keeping Norway in the match until Jomard second, as well as Mammadov and Nazaron adding to their scoring streaks, extended the lead of the men from the Land of Fire.
Jacobsen also got off the mark, and Li bagged a second, but an unfortunate own goal by Jalland wrapped up the points for Azerbaijan on Day 4 in Catania.
Spain 1-2 Ukraine
Switzerland 2-4 Sweden
England 5-0 Czech Republic
Moldova 5-3 Czech Republic
Azerbaijan 6-3 Norway
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.