The nations join Denmark in the main qualifier
The final day of pre-qualifier action at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2024 – European Qualifier took place in Baku on the 4th July, as the final two spots in the main qualifier were still very much up for grabs…
A comfortable Greece victory sees them through
Greece defeat Norway 6-1
In Group A, Norway faced a Greece side, who suffered a 4-2 defeat against group winners, Denmark the day before, with the group coming to its final conclusion.
Greece had a great first period, leading 3-0 after 12 minutes played in the Azerbaijan capital. Skourtas got the first for his nation, converting a wonderful bicycle kick four minutes in. Mikelatos netted a brace in the last few minutes of the period, turning the ball in from close range for his team’s second and slotting the ball in the top-left corner for Greece’s third.
It was Norway who scored the only goal of the second period, as Badivuku smashed his penalty down the middle of the goal to reduce the deficit to two. Greece almost scored again later in the period, as Triantafyllidis’ shot was turned around the post by Brekken.
The score became 4-1 to Greece inside a minute of the third and final period, as Skourtas found his second of the match, as his strike made its way in at the near post. Katsoulis then scored the fifth, neatly finishing into the bottom-left corner with the outside of his foot. The final goal came from Koukovinis with a spectacular shot which hit the far post on the way in. This huge victory for Greece sees them advance into the main qualifier as the best runner-up nation, on goal difference.
Sweden get their first win
A 5-2 victory for Sweden over Malta
Sweden opened the scoring, as Bartolo was dispossessed by the oncoming, Garcia as he slotted the ball underneath Muscat to give his nation the lead. That lead didn’t last for too long however, as just over a minute later, Malta were on level terms. Captain, Caruana perfectly placed his shot from a fair distance, into the bottom-right corner. Despite the equailser, Sweden’s lead was restored in the first period courtesy of captain, Gustafsson. Garcia played a clever flick into a great area for the captain to finish from close range.
It took less than a minute into the second period for Malta to equalise once again, as goalkeeper, Valletta smashed the ball towards goal and Aguis’ backheel attempt glided past Malmström. The scores remained the same at the end of the period, setting up an intense final 12 minutes in Baku.
Garcia and Palmén displayed some incredible chemistry in the final period for the Swedes. Palmén found Sweden’s third of the day after his pass found Garcia’s head and was flicked back to him to score. The duo then combined again for the fourth and Palmén’s second, as a creative piece of interplay fell into the feet of Palmén to score his brace. Garcia also secured his brace late on, as his penalty secured the victory.
Lithuania are Group B winners
Lithuania win 3-2 against Czechia
A battle between Lithuania and Czechia would bring Group B to a close, both coming off the back of victories on the second day.
The Lithuanians took the lead in this one, as Makutunovičius was played through as he hammered the ball past Bartl to break the deadlock. Navickas doubled the Lithuanian’s advantage, after Novičov’s through ball found him to tuck in at the near post for a two-goal lead going into the first interval.
Navickas almost found his second of the match early in the second, as his long-range shot cannoned off the crossbar. Following this, Czechia had a huge chance of their own denied by Petrauskas as Trampota’s free-kick was well saved to the left side of the goal, and with under two minutes left in the period, Makutunovičius got away from Salak and rifled his shot into the middle of the goal for his brace.
Makutunovičius was extremely close to a hat-trick in the third period after catching Karpisek off his line, but his attempt from range drifted past the left post. At the other end, Pekarek picked out Folejtar, but his strike hit the woodwork. Trampota found two goals for Czechia late in the period from two set pieces, a penalty and a free-kick. However, it wasn’t enough for them to get back into the match and Lithuania had their third win of the pre-qualifier, winning Group B in the process and proceeding into the main qualifier.
Norway 1-6 Greece
Sweden 5-2 Malta
Lithuania 3-2 Czechia