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28 Jun 2015
Russia adds Gold to trophy case
One goal separated Gold from Silver or Russia from Italy, and Bronze from 4th in Portugal vs Switzerland on final day in Baku
Russia in top form in earning Gold Medal
The 3-2 win for Russia over Italy went exactly how the Russians planned, but certainly not what they expected. Russia only lost once in their previous four matches, and it was to Italy, after allowing five third period goals, and they did not want that to happen again. Italy only lost in penalties in their opening match but they could not muster the same energy they had in that loss or their previous wins. The Russians jumped on top first and had to squash the Italian comeback attempts. The win gives Russia first place and the Gold Medal in the first ever European Games, in a nearly undefeated run. Italy finished in second place and with the very respectable Silver Medal.
In the opening matches in Baku Russia and Italy had shown two different faces, and both were capable of winning. One face is the cagey, defensive, and tactical side, which can keep a game scoreless until a goal is needed. The other kind of team is the one that is free-flowing, less business-like, and goal-happy, which can outscore almost anyone in the world. The faces were evident for both teams in the early going, but the technique and passing of Russia was that much better than Italy’s and the Russians scored twice in the heart of the frame. The goals were a direct result of the goalie distribution and the frame ended with the Big Red Beach Machine up 2-0. The captain, Leonov, made sure his team extended their lead when he struck home a shot that put the Russians up 3-0 early in the second period. Italy was not able to find their offensive magic which they had in the group stage, specifically in their first match against Russia, won by Italy. The middle frame came to an end, as the rapid pace continued, with Russia up 3-0.
The Azzurri started trying to disrupt the rhythm and flow of the Russian attacks and they got their first goal and sniff of belief on an early direct kick from Gori. The scored stayed at 3-1 for Russia, but the energy had fully swayed to Italy as they were looking at the very real possibility of a comeback. Another penalty kick was awarded to Italy and Frainetti made sure to connect and add to the drama, putting the score at 3-2 for Russia, with just over six minutes left in the match. The two teams were more than using the entire pitch and exacting passes but the Russians were still in control though both sides were flinging shots at goal, looking for the next goal, either the equalizer or the nail in the coffin. The final seconds passed with Russia still clinging to the 3-2 lead.
Goals: 0-1: Shaikov, min. 6 (2); 0-3: Gorchinskiy, min. 5 (1); 0-3: Leonov, min. 8 (2); 1-3: Gori, min. 10 (3); 2-3: Frainetti, min. 6 (3).
Portugal avoids letdown in enthralling bronze medal match
The 6-5 win for Portugal over Switzerland was a clash for the ages. There was pressure, power, finesse, and drama. Portugal, unlike in their other matches, jumped out to the lead first, but they were bombarded by the all-around game of the Swiss, who took a slight lead late in the match. The light turned on again for Portugal and particularly Belchior, who scored a timely hat-trick to restore the slight lead. The win gives Portugal 3rd Place in all of Europe and the Bronze medal in the 1st ever European Games. The loss was heart-crushing for the Swiss as they came so close but they finished in a very admirable 4th place. The two teams will still be heading to Portugal for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in July.
Both sides opened the match by playing very loose, fast, but precise. Neither side was making the early mistake but the runs did not pay-off. The sides kept their composure and it took a great through pass to Belchior and then finish to get the games’ first goal. The other Portuguese goal scorers and the Swiss Bomber, Stankovic, were held in check in the opening frame and the period ended with Portugal up 1-0. The physical play took a front seat in the second period and it took less than two minutes for two goals to be scored, one more for Portugal and Torres and the second from Borer and Switzerland. The quick strikes put the score at 2-1 for the Portuguese. The combative match continued late in the middle frame but the scoreboard was still idle, with the score and tension remaining the same until late in the period when Jordan slipped a shot through to give his side the 3-1 lead. Portugal would add another late goal but so would Spacca of the Swiss and the period ended with Portugal up 4-2.
The hard-work for the two teams was more than paying off as there had been six total goals scored going into the final frame, but that quickly turned into eight goals as La Nati scored on a fluke goal, all good teams need a little luck, when they got a ricochet looping ball to go in the net and then an inadvertent hand ball gave the Swiss a penalty kick and tied the game at 4 early in the final period. Switzerland had turned things around and began to capitalize on nearly every chance, especially after they scored their fifth of the day, taking their first lead on the match, at 5-4. With the bronze medal on the line, Portugal made sure to get things back and used the second and third goals from Belchior, one on a direct kick and one bicycle, to put the score at 6-5 for Portugal. The score would not change and the Portuguese finished the classic affair up 6-5.
Goals: 0-1: Belchior, min. 4 (1); 0-2: Torres, min. 10 (2); 1-2: Borer, min. 10 (2); 1-3: Jordan, min. 3 (2); 1-4: Alan, min. 2 (2); 2-4: Spacca, min. 2 (2); 3-4: Mo, min. 8 (3); 4-4: Borer, min. 8 (3); 5-4: Ott, min. 7 (3); 5-5: Belchior, min. 4 (3); 5-6: Belchior, min. 4 (3).
Spain leaves Baku in 5th Place after quality victory
The 6-3 win for Spain over Ukraine was a showing of what Spain is really capable of, something that had not fully put on display thus far. Spain started fast and despite allowing Ukraine to gain momentum and get back into the game, the Spanish motored through their gears when they needed to and were almost always in control. Spain only lost one match all tournament and this was their fourth win five tries. The Spanish finish in 5th place and will next head to Portugal for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Ukraine had a very exciting and up-and-down tournament and they finish in 6th place, among eight of Europe’s best beach soccer teams.
Spain and Ukraine both expected to be playing for a medal but their quality of play all week was undeniable and they did not let the 5th Place Match serve as a letdown. The top-class athletes remained just as competitive as ever but it was the Spaniards who earned the slight and early edge, on a precise header from Pajon, which set the score at 1-0. The one goal difference is not how the period would end, as Ezequiel of Spain slotted home a beautiful over the shoulder pass, and thematch headed into the first break with La Furia Roja up 2-0. The Blue ad Yellow began the middle frame with more purpose, finally scoring their first goal, but not before the Spaniards scored their third of the match, on the first goal of the day for Llorenç. The Ukrainians continued their push and scored another late goal, this one from Korniichuk, which put the score at 3-2 for Spain. The Spanish quickly took the match another gear and finished the frame with another two rapid fire goals, leaving the score at 5-2 for Spain going into the final frame.
Ukraine started the period knowing that a determined and disciplined effort could get them back into proceedings, but it was Spain who scored the first goal in the final 12 minutes, a strike from Mayor, that put the score at 6-2. The game never seemed out of reach for Ukraine and they did get one back on a direct kick from Borsuk, which left the Spaniards doubling up Ukraine by a score of 6-3. The two sides would play the remainder of the match to a draw and the final buzzer sounded with Spain still up byt the same score.
Goals: 0-1: Pajon, min. 8 (1); 0-2: Ezequiel, min. 0 (1); 0-3: Llorenç, min. 10 (2); 1-3: Borsuk, min. 4 (2); 2-3: Korniichuk, min. 2 (2); 2-4: Chiky, min. 2 (2); 2-5: Nico, min. 0 (2); 2-6: Mayor, min. 10 (3); 3-6: Borsuk, min. 9 (3).
Hungary claims 7th after first win
The 3-2 win for Hungary over Azerbaijan was a match that the fans were very much looking forward to, as well as the players and coaches. The two sides nearly won every single one of their matches but going into the 7th place match, neither team had secured victory. Going out on top was the goal for both teams and it was the Hungarians who built up a large enough lead that they were able to rely on to hold off the Azeri. The win gives Hungary their first win of the week and puts them in 7th place. The loss was not easy for Azerbaijan but they exceeded nearly all expectations and finished as the 8th best team in all of Europe.
The build-up and anticipation for the match was superb with both sides nearly winning early matches in Baku, but coming into this match looking for their first win. Azerbaijan was asking more of the questions in the first frame; however the shot were from long-range. The disciplined defense of Hungary was able to withstand the attacks and the Hungariams able to score the periods’ only goal, on a full-pitch looping shot, that just caught Vagif, the Azeri goalie, off-guard. The first 12 minutes finished with the Golden Team up 1-0. The hosts got off the board but so did Simonyi, twice, for the Hungarians as they restored their biggest lead of the day, two goals. The 3-1 lead held until the final break rolled around and the Azerbaijani found themselves in need of at least two more goals to boost their chances of victory.
Hungary had built big leads and given them up in this tournament alone, so they decided to try something new in the final frame. The new strategy, which was to play back and be content with limiting the opponents chances, nearly back fired as the Land of Fire pulled back to within one goal and made the fans stand on their feet for a dramatic closing two minutes. With the score sitting at 3-2, and Hungary looking a bit more nervous than before, they sweated out the win and were able to hang on for the 3-2 victory.
Goals: 1-0: Fekete, min. 8 (1); 2-0: Simonyi, min. 9 (2); 2-1: Elvin, min. 7 (2); 3-1: Simonyi, min. 1 (2); 3-2: Sabir, min. 0 (3).
EUROPEAN GAMES BAKU 2015
11:30 – Hungary 3-2 Azerbaijan (7th Place Match)
13:00 – Ukraine 3-6 Spain (5th Place Match)
14:30 – Switzerland 5-6 Portugal (3rd Place Match)
16:00 – Italy 2-3 Russia (Final)
Silver – Italy
Bronze – Portugal
4th Place – Switzerland