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11 May 2019
Russia and Spain to contend the final in Salou
The teams going to the World Beach Games have been chosen but Salou needs a champion as Russia and Spain make the final
Spain took sweet revenge on Italy on home sand to meet Russia in tomorrow’s final, while Portugal suffered yet another shock defeat.
The four qualified teams may have been chosen but the title of the World Beach Games European Qualifier was still up for grabs, as well as higher finishing position for the teams who hadn’t made the cut.
Each side threw everything they into their matches. The result? Yet another thrilling day of first-class beach soccer.
As expected the semi-finals didn’t disappoint, as the Euro Beach Soccer League final of 2018 was repeated when the hosts took on Italy, and Switzerland, having knocked out Portugal, were looking to slay another beach soccer giant…
Spain vs Italy
The day’s second semi-final had a familiar feel to it, as this was the match that decided the champions of Europe last year, a match that Italy won on home sand.
Today, Spain had the home advantage. The crowd cheered on their players and word had clearly spread that the best player in the world was among the ranks as Llorenç’s touches and skills were greeted with extra enthusiastic applause.
But it was Javi Torres that got the hosts off the mark, sweeping in from the right to shoot low past Del Mestre. Adri Frutos then doubled the lead, but Chiavaro was there to silence the crowd before they had even finished celebrating, taking the score back to 2-1.
La Roja went into the first break with a very slender lead, but in the second period Llorenç powered in two stunning strikes to send the crowd wild once more. With a more comfortable lead, Joaquin Alonso’s men in red moved the ball with confidence and Italy just couldn’t control the strikers.
The second whistle sounded and the Azzurri took the time out gratefully to regroup.
However, a second Italian goal didn’t come and it was Edu who put the game to bed when he found himself unmarked at the back post. At 5-1, Spain kept hold of the ball, denying Italy the chance of a comeback.
The final whistle blew, and the Spanish revenge for the Euro Beach Soccer League final was complete. They will now face Russia in the final, while Italy will fight for third place against Switzerland.
Goals: 1-0: Javi Torres, min. 5 (1); 2-0: Adri Frutos, min. 3 (1); 2-1: Chiavaro, min. 2 (1); 3-1: Llorenç, min. 7 (2); 4-1: Llorenç, min. 4 (2); 5-1: Edu, min. 4 (3);
Switzerland vs Russia
Having crossed the finish line in the race to the World Beach Games San Diego, Switzerland and Russia met in the Qualifier’s semi-final to go one step further and reach the final here in Salou.
After muscling a tough win from the former world champions Portugal yesterday, Switzerland walked onto the sand with confidence and when Borer put them ahead with a well-taken freekick, Russia looked shaky.
But Zemskov was on hand to restore calm, and take Russia level with his first goal of the tournament. Having upped their game a little, Russia turned the control of the game and Zemskov’s second goal, which he bundled over the line with 20 seconds on the period left, gave Russia the lead at the first break.
Stankovic had the chance to level the game up from the penalty spot but was unable to convert in a very uncharacteristic miss. Paporotnyi pushed the Russians two goals ahead with a fine effort, but not long after Hodel made it 2-3.
Switzerland were proving hard to shake off and just one goal separated the two sides as the final period began. After having had an abnormally quiet campaign, Zemskov completed his hat-trick with an impressive overhead volley.
With ten minutes left to play, Angelo Schirinzi’s side increased the pressure, determined to get something out of the tie.
Once more they reduced the difference to just one goal as Wuest claimed scored a penalty. After this, the Swiss struggled to break down the Russian defense who were happy to see the last few minutes tick down until the final whistle confirmed their place in the final.
Switzerland will face either Italy in the third-place play-off tomorrow.
Goals: 1-0: Borer, min. 8 (1); 1-1: Zemskov, min. 4 (1); 1-2: Zemskov, min. 0 (1); 1-3: Paporotnyi, min. 11 (2); 2-3: Hodel, min. 9 (2); 2-4: Zemskov, min. 10 (3); 3-4: Wuest, min. 6 (3);
Portugal vs Ukraine
A fifth-place finish here at the World Beach Games - Europe Qualifier Salou 2019 would offer a lifeline to make it to the final showdown in San Diego, California, and a win today would put one of these teams within touching distance of it.
But with teams like Ukraine and Portugal as an opposition, it was far from an easy route.
Belchior powered in the game’s opener from distance after five minutes of play, but the Portugal bench hardly had time to sit down again before Ukraine had equalised through Roman Pachev.
Two minutes later Andrade was beaten once more when Zborovskyi turned in from close range. The first whistle sounded with Portugal trailing by a single goal and as the second period got underway they created chances but lacked the finishing that is so typical of this European powerhouse.
Shots kept coming but flew high and wide, as the frustration began to show both on and off the sand. Ukraine did well to soak up the pressure and kept Andrade on his toes, but as much as Portugal were unable to equalize, the men in blue were unable to extend their narrow advantage.
Suddenly the goal drought ended, when Zborovskyi made matters worse for Portugal with a fine strike, and although Andrade scored a trademark long-range volley, Medved netted with five minutes to restore a two-goal cushion.
Makeiev killed the game off with a fine freekick which hit the sand to bounce over the diving Andrade and at full time, it was Ukraine celebrating as hope of a place at the World Beach Games remains.
Goals: 1-0: Belchior, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Pachev, min. 7 (1); 1-2: Zborovskyi, min. 5 (1); 1-3: Zborovskyi, min. 8 (3); 2-3: Andrade, min. 7 (3); 2-4: Medved, min. 5 (3); 2-5: Makeiev, min. 3 (3);
Germany vs Azerbaijan
The best the Germany could hope for from their time in Salou was a ninth-place finish, and with an opponent like Azerbaijan ahead of them on day three, that was going to be no easy task.
It was the Azerbaijanis who opened the scoring, when Orkhan headed a looping effort past Alex Volkl in the German net midway through the opening period. That appeared to wake Die Mannschaft up, and they enjoyed more possession as the period went on and eventually Sven Korner struck from close range to level the teams up before the break.
The tense battle raged on into the second period, as the stalemate remained unbroken. Super saves kept out the strikers at both ends but eventually Azerbaijan retook the lead with an Asif freekick. It looked as if the Germans would start the final period trailing but Korner powered in a peach of an overhead with seconds on the clock.
At 2-2, and with 12 minutes of the match left, it was impossible to pick between the teams. A Christian Biermann hand ball was punished with a converted freekick in the early stages of the final period, then Sabir joined his teammates on the scoresheet. Not long after Abdul slid in at the near post to net a fourth for Azerbaijan.
Schmitt pulled one back for Germany but Sabir flew in from the right wing to volley in his second of the match, number five for Azerbaijan. Metzler grabbed a glimmer of hope for the Germans with two minutes on the clock, scoring a low freekick to make it 4-5, and from then on Germany piled on the pressure forcing save after save from keeper, Elchin.
But Azerbaijan held out until then final whistle to take a tight victory on day three.
Goals: 0-1 Orkhan, min. 6 (1); 1-1: Korner, min. 2 (1); 1-2: Asif, min. 2 (2); 2-2: Korner, min. 0 (2); 2-3: Sabir, min. 8 (3); 2-4: Abdul, min. 7 (3); 3-4: Schmitt, min. 6 (3); 3-5: Sabir, min. 6 (3); 4-5: Metzler, min. 2 (3);
Kazakhstan vs Norway
In day three’s second play-off match, Kazakhstan were looking for as high a finish in the European Qualifier in Salou as possible.
But a stubborn Norway side were looking for the same prize and it took a lot to break down their defense, despite Kazakhstan enjoying more possession. The breakthrough came in the form of an own goal by Kristoffersen.
This was all that separated the sides at the first whistle, but not long after the restart, Tyulpa netted to double the lead. A super strike from Muralinov put the Kazakhs three ahead and Norway were being left behind as the final period approached.
Muralinov managed to grab his second before the second whistle, and just after the third period began, Demeshko made it five and Norway looked defeated with ten minutes still to play.
They did manage to end on a high note as Salveson struck late. The day before the Kazakhs had let a lead slip to a strong German side and ended up losing the game, but they weren’t about to make the same mistake twice, and one goal was all that Norway could manage, as the match finished 5-1.
These two teams now await to see who they will face in the final day of beach soccer action here in Salou.
Goals: 1-0: Kristoffersen (OG), min. 6 (1); 2-0: Tyulpa, min. 10 (2); 3-0: Muralinov min. 5 (2); 4-0: Muralinov min. 1 (2); 5-0: Demeshko, min. 10 (3); 5-1: Salveson, min. 3 (3);
Belarus vs France
Both teams were still stinging from heavy defeats in yesterday’s quarter-finals, when Spain put five past Belarus and France were swept aside by Italy.
But a precious fifth-place finish was still up for grabs, which represented the only other route to the World Beach Games in San Diego.
So, with everything to play for, the match started steadily as neither teams wanted to concede an early goal. The eventually Belarussians drew first blood, and who else but Bryshtel, as he smashed a penalty home with four minutes of the opening stage to play.
But an equalizer came from Anthony Cianni who hit a long-range shot to see the period end with the scores tied.
No sooner had the second period started then Belarus struck again, this time it was the number two, Bokach and having gained control of the game, Belarus fought hard to keep their noses ahead.
They did so until the third period, and from the kick off Bryshtel volleyed in a third. Barbotti brought France back to 3-2 with a penalty but the two-goal cushion was restored by the big number ten, Ryabko.
The French were running out of time, but were not far behind their Belarussian rivals. With 45 seconds left, Angeletti slid the ball through the legs of Cherkasau in the Belarus net, bringing France within touching distance of an equalizer to force extra time.
But the final goal of the game went to the men in red as Samsonov took advantage of a defensive mix up to put the game out of France’s reach.
With this victory in the bag, there is still qualification hope for Belarus, but it won’t be an easy path to San Diego…
Goals: 1-0: Bryshtel, min. 4 (1); 1-1: Cianni, min. 3 (1); 2-1: Bokach, min. 11 (2); 3-1: Bryshtel, min. 11 (3); 3-2: Barbotti, min. 10 (3); 4-2: Ryabko, min. 9 (3); 4-3: Angeletti, min. 0 (3); 5-3: Samsonov, min. 0 (3);
Turkey vs Greece
The two sides burst onto the sand full of energy and with a clear desire to win and end their time here in Salou on a high note.
Although Turkey arguably had the best chances of the two sides in the opening period of play, it was the Greek Konstantakis who opened the scoring. This would be the only goal that the first period saw, thanks in the most part, to the acrobatics of the goalkeepers.
The second period got underway with the teams showing no signs of slowing down, and passions raged both on the sand and the sidelines. Greece maintained their slim lead until the matches midway point.
Then, the ball fell to Papastathopoulos in the middle of the pitch and seeing the keeper off his like, the big number six lifted the ball over him to double the advantage.
Just when Turkey looked in danger of being overrun, Akbal snuck into the Greek defense and turned in a low shot to make it 2-1.
Unfortunately for Turkey, this wasn’t enough to stop the flow of Greek goals and two fine finishes saw Kafantaris get on the scoresheet, and then Konstantakis grab his second of the match. Three goals ahead and just four minutes on the clock, Nikolaos Gialesakis’ men were happy to maintain possession and run the clock down and claim what turned out to be a comfortable win.
Goals: 0-1: Konstantakis, min. 8 (1); 0-2: Papastathopoulos, min. 6 (2); 1-2: Akbal, min. 3 (2); 1-3: Kafantaris, min. 6 (3); 1-4: Konstantakis, min. 5 (3);
Spain vs Czech Republic
Spain and Czech Republic went into this match struggling at the bottom of the group, but a win today would keep, albeit faint, hopes of qualification alive for one of them, but a loss would be fatal.
A close game resulting in extra time or penalties could be costly too, as every point dropped would potentially leave the winner a place lower in the final rankings.
Predictably, the match was a tight one, but Miron took the lead early with a fine finish. The Czechs hit back through a Jungova strike, only to see Carol Glez restore La Roja’s lead.
Three goals flew in in a single minute as Culova and Pilouskova took the lead for Czech Republic. Before the first period finished there was time for Spain to retake the advantage when Anna netted and then an unlucky bounce for keeper Sladka, saw the ball deflect off her back after hitting the post to gift Spain a 4-3 lead at the whistle.
After an action-packed first 12 minutes, the second period saw the Spanish ladies continue the offensive as Sara and Lorena got their names on the scoresheet too, and Czech Republic looked truly beaten, and as a result, the Spanish began to run riot.
The goals kept coming in the final period as Spain netted three more before the final whistle, including Sara securing a brace and a long-range golazo from Carla.
Christian Mendez’s ladies go level with Czech Republic on points to maintain faint hopes of World Beach Games qualification. Czech Republic have played all of their games and are now out of the running.
Goals: 1-0: Miron, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Jungova, min. 5 (1); 2-1: Carol Glez, min. 5 (1); 2-2: Culova, min. 5 (1); 2-3: Pilouskova, min. 3 (1); 3-3: Anna, min. 1 (1); 4-3: Sladka (OG), min. 1 (1); 5-3: Sara, min. 8 (2); 6-3: Lorena, min. 5 (2); 7-3: Sara, min. 2 (3); 8-3: Nati, min. 1 (3); 9-3: Carla, min. 1 (3);
Switzerland vs England
Going into this game, Switzerland hand enjoyed a perfect campaign, picking up six out of six points. England, on the other hand, we’re struggling in second from bottom, after taking their only point from the penalty spot against Spain.
If the Swiss won this game, they would qualify, however, if the three lionesses wanted to keep any hope of playing beach soccer at the World Beach Games alive, they desperately needed to pick up points today.
The former European champions (2017) kept the Swiss attacks at bay for the first period, thanks in part to the crossbar, but were unable to find the net themselves despite mounting threatening offenses.
The second period started with the scoreboard unchanged until a freekick from Hannah Short sent the net rippling to give England the lead. This seemed to jerk Franziska Steinemann’s ladies into action as the England keeper Haughton made some spectacular saves to keep her clean sheet intact.
Hillier then turned in a long cross to make it two and although the Swiss kept up the pressure, they just couldn’t find a way through.
The third period started with Sarah Kempson finding a slither of space to curl a third into the top corner. Now Switzerland did begin to slow down, and it was all one-way traffic as England hit the bar and the post, as well as forcing multiple saves from Alma Marti who was brilliant between the sticks.
England were happy to keep hold of the ball and slow the play down until the final whistle sounded. After this result, if both Switzerland and England win their next games in normal time, they will both be going to San Diego.
Goals: 0-1: Short, min. 10 (2); 0-2: Hillier, min. 7 (2); 0-3: Kempson, min. 11 (3);
Stay up-to-date with all of the fixtures, results and standings of the World Beach Games - Europe Qualifier Salou 2019 on the Beach Soccer Worldwide website.