More drama and penalties ruled the penultimate day of group play with Turkey and Italy prevailing in shoot-outs
Estonia stalls England and moves to top of group
The 5-3 win for Estonia over England was great for the home crowd, the home team, and the fans at home, except for England, however even the English can admit that they played smart, and besides a few errors, the game could have been entirely different. The Estonians started quickly and did not look back. The English found a couple opportunities and took their chances when they could but the hosts were very sound on offense and defense. The victory was important for Estonia because they remain undefeated in the Division B Superfinal but they only have four points, due to a penalties victory on day one. Estonia will need to defeat Hungary on Saturday in their final group match to solidify their hopes of playing in Division A in 2016. England, thanks to a regular time victory over Hungary on the opening day, still have an opportunity to play in the Promotion Final, but they first need to take care of business against Norway on Saturday.
Estonia knew they had everything in front of them, win, win, win, and they would play for Division A, while being on home sand. England had the same objectives and opportunities, but it was the hosts who struck first, giving themselves a slim 1-0 lead early in the match. The Blues were playing spectacular on offense and defense and the English side was not even getting quality looks on goal but the Estonians were capitalizing on every shot they had, and when the end of the period came around, the score was 3-0 for Estonia. The Three Lions got in on the scoring party in the first minute of the second period when their captain, Clarke, slotted home a shot to bring the score to 3-1 for Estonia. The only other goal in the frame came in the form of a penalty shot, nailed by Truusalu for his third goal of the day, and it gave Estonia a 4-1 advantage going into the last frame.
Action abounded in the opening minute of the last period, as England scored first, on a boot from Temple that brought his side back to within two goals at 4-2, but less than a minute later, the Estonian goalie, Lukk, scored his second of the match to restore the three goal lead, at 5-2. The drama never faltered and the two teams continued to exchange chances, though they all went missing and with only a few minutes left in the match, the crowd was ecstatic as their home team still held the 5-2 lead. The English made things more interesting with a late goal from Bowes but the 5-3 deficit was still too much to overcome and the final whistle sounded with Estonia up 5-3.
Goals: 0-1: Lukk, min. 9 (2); 0-2: Truusalu, min. 6 (1); 0-3: Truusalu, min. 2 (1); 1-3: Clarke, min. 11 (2); 1-4: Truusalu, min. 0 (2); 2-4: Temple, min. 11 (3); 2-5: Lukk, min. 11 (3); 3-5: Bowes, min. 1 (3).
Portugal erases deficit and scores big win
The 6-2 win for Portugal over France could have been a huge upset for France, had they built upon their hot start but the World Champions were too much and were too composed to let that happen. France scored the first two goals and were in complete control before the Portuguese collected themselves and began picking away at the lead. First it was Belchior who showed his tremendous talent, then Leo Martins made his presence felt, while Madjer also joined in on the party as Portugal pulled away for the necessary win. The win gives Portugal six points in the tough group with Russia and Switzerland, who both own three points of their own. Portugal must play Switzerland in their final group game on Saturday. France was unable to secure a win in their first two matches but they will have a shot on Saturday against Russia.
France knew they needed a win so they started the match with reckless abandon and the tactic more than paid off as they scored the first goal, and early, taking the 1-0 lead into the heart of the period. Les Bleus were not finished yet as they flicked a full pitch shot just over the Portuguese goalie and defense, giving them the 2-0 lead late in the period. Portugal are the current World Champions and you do not get to be a champion without knowing how to overcome adversities and deficits like that, so Belchior decided to put his team on his shoulders and scored his teams’ first goal, putting the score at 2-1 for France leading into the first break. The Portuguese star was not done yet as he added to his tally with an opening minute goal in the middle frame, to tie things at 2. The match calmed down a bit and went into the final minute of the second period still tied at two, but Leo Martins saw an open net in front of him, after a defensive mistake, and he connected to his team their first lead on the day, 3-2, which is how the period would end.
The lead was not big and definitely not safe especially when Portugal saw firsthand in the opening frame how easy it is for France to score, so the Portuguese continued pressing and eventually found a goal from their legend, Madjer, which put the score at 4-2 for Portugal. The scoring was not over yet and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Champions piled on the scores but also showcased their stout defense. When the referees indicated the end of the match, Portugal had secured the 6-2 win.
Goals: 0-1: Barbotti, min. 9 (1); 0-2: Barbotti, min. 5 (1); 1-2: Belchior, min. 3 (1); 2-2: Belchior, min. 11 (2); 3-2: Leo Martins, min. 1 (2); 4-2: Madjer, min. 9 (3); 5-2: Be Martins, min. 6 (3); 6-2: B. Novo, min. 6 (3).
Russia wreaks havoc on Swiss defense
The 8-5 win for Russia over Switzerland was a blowout, or looked like it would be, until the final period, as La Nati rebounded to scratch their way back into the match. Russia took a big lead only to see it dwindle before collecting their own nerves and finishing off the Swiss side. The secret weapon, or rather not-so-secret weapon, was Stankovic who added to his season leading number of goals, and had four in this match. The win gives Russia their first three points and puts them in a great position going forward, attempting to become the second team in European history to win the EBSL three years in a row. Russia will face France on Saturday. Switzerland will also need a win on their final day, Saturday, against Portugal.
Russia played just as tough a match on Thursday but they began this match against Switzerland with a tone-setting score in the first three seconds, leaving the Swiss down 1-0 and on their heels. The backpedaling continued as the Russians scored on a rebound that came directly off a counterattack, leaving the Russians up 2-0. The goals kept on coming as Switzerland got on the board, with a goal from Stankovic, however that goal was just before two more Russian goals, putting the score at 4-1. The Bi going Red Beach Machine scored twice more, while Stankovic added to his and his teams’ tally, putting the score at 6-2 for Switzerland going into the final frame.
The last period saw Switzerland inch even closer, behind the leg of Stankovic, who scored his third and fourth goals of the match, bringing his side to within two goals, at 4-6. It was then that he got help, from Spacca, putting the Swiss down only one goal, at 5-6, The happy momentum would not continue for Switzerland as Russia buckled down and added two goal while shutting down their opponents to seal the 8-5 victory.
Goals: 0-1: Makarov, min. 11 (1); 0-2: Peremitin, min. 10 (1); 1-2: Stankovic, min. 9 (1); 1-3: Paporotnyi, min. 8 (1); 1-4: Shaikov, min. 7 (1); 1-5: Shaikov, min. 9 (2); 2-5: Stankovic, min. 8 (2); 2-6: Shaikov, min. 4 (2); 3-6: Stankovic, min. 9 (3); 4-6: Stankovic, min. 9 (3); 5-6: Spacca, min. 6 (3); 5-7: Paporotnyi, min. 4 (3); 5-8: Markarov, min. 0 (3).
Narrow win gets Spain back in the fight
Spain stays alive in the fight for the continental crown. After a narrow win over Ukraine, the defending European runner-ups still keep their options to earn a berth in the decider of this Euro Beach Soccer League Superfinal Pärnu 2015. To do so, though, they will need to beat Belarus tomorrow, together with a defeat by Italy to Ukraine.
Ezequiel swept Spain ahead and gave his team what they were longing for. Spain is a better Spain when they manage to control the game and the score, and this is what the Spaniards were looking for since the beginning. Medvid, on two occasions, counteracted La Roja’s dominion, to tie the game 2-2 midway second period.
Alonso’s side built a more consistent advantage between the last minutes of the second leg and the beginning of the third, thanks to the contribution of two of the new faces in the roster: Eduard and Francisco Guisado. Despite Zborovskiy’s 3-4, Spain was feeling stronger than their opponents, and hit back for the 3-5.
That advantage would end up being decisive, as Ukraine could only pull one last back, making the score 4-5. The final whistle gave Spain the points they needed to get back in the fight for a berth in Sunday’s Superfinal. They will need the help of Ukraine, though, combined with a victory over Belarus this next Saturday.
Goals: 0-1: Ezequiel, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Medvid, min. 4 (1); 1-2: Llorenç, min. 7 (2); 2-2: Medvid, min. 6 (2); 2-3: F. Guisado, min. 5 (2); 2-4: Eduard, min. 11 (3); 3-4: Zborovskiy, min. 9 (3); 3-5: Ezequiel, min. 5 (3); 4-5: I. Borsuk, min. 4 (3)
Italy completes unlikely comeback for penalties win
The 3(3)-3(1) penalties victory for Italy over Belarus was a splendid display of timely and opportunistic offense and sturdy defense. The Belarus National Selection scored first and that made it even more exciting for the Italians as they knew they would be in for a long fight and their heart was on display also when they scored the early equalizer. Though that only encouraged Belarus and they knew they could compete with the Azzurri. It was the determination of the Nacionalnaya Sbornaya that allowed them to slowly give themselves space, but it proved to not be enough for the victory. The win was the second for Italy and they still are in a great place to earn the European crown, but they must first take on and defeat Ukraine on Saturday. Belarus will look to earn their first win on Saturday against a determined Spanish team.
Italy and Belarus both had played exceptional matches on day one but it was the Italians who won against Spain, while Belarus fell in extra time to Ukraine, and the memories were fresh on their mind. Belarus showed their rebound ability by netting an amazing shot from Bokach but the Italians used a direct kick from Gori to knot things at 1-1 less than two minutes later. If the Belarusians were not favoured to win, you would not have known by their demeanor and early actions, as they netted a second goal, the first for Bryshtsel, and they regained the lead and this time at 2-1, which is how the period would end. The defenses really dug their feet into the ground and kept their opposite numbers off the scoreboard as the match drew closer to the end of the middle frame. The score moved further in the favour of the Belarusians when Kanstantsinau nailed a missile from long long range that put the score at 3-1 going into the final frame.
The action stayed at a fast-pace that seemed like it had to slow down after the break-neck speed in the opening frame but with the finish-line in sight, both sides were intensely searching for more goals. Belarus was making it very difficult on the Italians as they had not found the net since the opening frame. Italy looked poised to go on a mini run and take back control when they were awarded a late penalty but the shot did not fall and the score remained 3-1 for the Belarusians going into the exciting final seconds. The drama was only beginning as Palmacci netted his first of the day, bringing the score 3-2 with less than a minute left. That goal gave life to the Italian squad as they used a flick header from Ramacciotti to tie the score at 3, mere seconds after the second goal. The third period would end with the score 3-3 and both teams headed to overtime feeling good about their chances. The overtime had a rapid pace but nothing could separate the teams and the match headed into the deciding penalty shoot-out tied at 3. One save from Italy in the penalty shoot-out proved to be enough for the Azzurri to earn the amazing comeback win.
Goals: 0-1: Bokach, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Gori, min. 7 (1); 1-2: Bryshtsel, min. 5 (1); 1-3: Kanstantsinau, min. 1 (2); 2-3: Palmacci, min. 0 (3); 3-3: Ramacciotti, min. 0 (3).
Penalties: Ramacciotti: Goal; Bryshtsel: Saved; Marinai: Goal; Kanstantsinau: Goal; Zurlo: Goal.
Turkey earns one point in Promotion Final penalties battle
The 3(4)-3(3) penalties win for Turkey was a heroic comeback from the Turkish side that almost led to a regular time victory but Romania was just as eager for a win and a last minute goal sent the match into an extra frame, but even that could not separate the teams and the game went into an all important shoot-out. The penalties also had drama with saves, missed shots and some perfect kicks. In the end, the Turkish side was able to outduel their counterparts and the win gives them one point, although it eliminates them from winning the division. Turkey will still be playing an important match on Saturday against Azerbaijan. Romania still has Division A hopes as they will face current group leader, the Czech Republic, on Saturday, in a group deciding match.
Due to the extra time win for Romania and the opening day loss for Turkey, a win was necessary for both teams and their Division A hopes were still intact. The energy was all-present in the opening minutes but the strikes were not and the score stayed level at 0-0 going into the final minutes of the period. The draw turned into a one goal advantage for the Romanians when Zaharia netted the first goal and gave his team the 1-0 lead going into the first break. It took less than 10 seconds into the second period for the Tricolorii to score again, this time using a strike from M. Poste. The 2-0 score held, despite the Turkish side being awarded a penalty and earning many open looks, going into the heart of the match, but the two teams were nearly constantly knocking on the door. The first goal of the tournament for the Crescent Stars came on a rebound from a saved penalty shot, slotted home by Emrah and it put the score at 2-1 for Romania, and that is how the frame would end.
Turkey was held scoreless in their opening match and in the first period of this match but their offense was slowly coming into form as they scored in the middle frame and also in the opening minutes of the final period, the second goal coming from Baris and tying the score at 2-all. Both sides were nervously searching for an opening without exposing their defense so the middle of the frame came and went without another goal. Turkey looked like the aggressor and they were asking many more questions of the Romanian keeper, Boata, but the score sat at 2-2 going into the last minutes of regular time. The scrambling created a perfect opportunity after a failed bicycle for the Turkish side and they did not miss, completing the full turnaround, by taking their first lead at 3-2. Like clockwork, Romania sent all they had at Turkey and it proved to be enough as they scored the equalizer on a rocket of a direct kick from Boata, leaving the score at 3-3 and going into overtime. The overtime went scoreless but the blocks and goals in the penalty shoot-out, eventually won by Turkey, more than made up for it.
Goals: 0-1: Zaharia, min. 0 (1); 0-2: M. Poste, min. 11 (2); 1-2: Emrah, min. 6 (2): 2-2: Baris, min. 10 (3); 3-2: Erkan, min. 1 (3); 3-3: Boata, min. 0 (3).
Penalties: Maci: Goal; Emrah: Goal; Dobre: Saved; Cem: Goal; I. Poste: Goal; Baris: Saved; Tase: Goal; Volkan: Goal; Boata: Saved; Seyit: Goal.
Hungary shrugs off Norway in must-win situation
The 5-4 victory for Hungary over Norway did not disappoint anyone, even the losing team played very tough and could be proud of their showing today. Hungary started quick scoring the first two goals before Norway took their first least, albeit shortly, and they match went into the final frame where Hungary played their best beach soccer of the tournament. The Hungarians scored early in the period and were able to limit and hold off Norway from completing another comeback. The win gives Hungary their first win and an important win in the group, though they will need a win on Saturday against Estonia, and some help from the other group members. Norway will not be eligible to play in the Promotion Final but their ranking and standing will have much to do with their final group match on Saturday against England.
Hungary and Norway both knew they needed a win, did not lose, and that much of their tournament future hinged on this match, so they began play very conservatively, which eventually gave way to more aggressive tactics but the goals did not initially come. The score stayed at 0-0 going into the final minutes but it was the Golden Team who struck first on a shot from Besenyei that started the scoring, though the period ended with Hungary up 1-0. The Hungarians did not rest on their laurels after the opening frame and they came out attacking just as fiercely in the second period, but the early result was much like the first frame, no goals and a defensive gem from both teams. The stalemate was shattered when the sides exploded for four more goals, one from Hungary and three from Norway, to leave the score at 3-3 going into the last period.
The scoring carried over into the closing frame as Hungary notched another, as they were trying to restore their former lead, and they did so, on a second goal from Abel, leaving the score at 5-3 early in the frame. After their offensive outburst in the middle frame, Norway was left scrambling for another goal, and it did come in the last minute of the game from the captain Li, but it was too little too late as the Norwegians were unable to get the equalizer and the Hungarian side was able to play keep away and hold on for the hard-fought and much-needed three points and 5-4 win.
Goals: 1-0: Besenyei, min. 1 (1); 2-0: Abel, min. 4 (2); 2-1: Salveson, min. 3 (2); 2-2: Jacobsen, min. 3 (2); 2-3: Salveson, min. 1 (2); 3-3: Simonyi, min. 0 (2); 4-3: Besenyei, min. 10 (3); 5-3: Abel, min. 9 (3); 5-4: Li, min. 1 (3).
The Czech Republic remains undefeated after OT stunner
The 5-4 (aet) victory for the Czech Republic over Azerbaijan had three thrilling periods that gave way to a fourth because the first three were so exciting and could not determine a winner. Azerbaijan scored first and looked determine to erase their opening day loss to Romania, which also happened to be in extra time. The Czechs had a different idea and they found themselves back in the thick of it but the game needed an extra and an own goal to give the Czech Republic the win. The victory keeps the Czechs in the drivers’ seat to advance to the Promotion Final and the chance to play in Division A next season, but first they must face Romania on Saturday. Azerbaijan is eliminated from contention for Division A status but they still have much to play for in their last group match on Saturday against Turkey.
Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic came into the day going in different directions, as things are always unpredictable in beach soccer. Azerbaijan had won their group in Siófok and while the Czechs still managed to secure a berth, they were not the group winners, but the opening day in Pärnu showed the immediate shift as the Czech Republic won and Azerbaijan lost. That history made no difference to the Azerbaijani as they scored first and used strikes from Amir and Sabir to take the 2-0 first period lead. There were no other goals in the first 12 minutes and the ones from the Land of Fire were feeling safe with the two-goal lead going into the first break. Not yet panicked, the Czechs relaxed and found their form, netting their first, cutting the deficit in half, thanks to Salak. The score remained at 2-1 for Azerbaijan going into the meat of the match. Salak was the sole force of offense for the Czechs as the minutes ticked away in the middle frame and he took even more pressure off his teammates when he scored his second goal, tying the match at 2-2, but a late goal from Azerbaijan set the score at 3-2 going into the final frame.
The Czech Republic and specifically Salak, did not take long to score the equalizer, as the one man offensive show scored his hat-trick securing goal very early in the last period. The defenses were still playing an important role, limiting chances but it was Chalupa and the Czechs who scored for the second time in the frame, giving themselves their first lead of the day, at 4-3. The lead was short-lived as Sabir connected on a penalty kick for his second goal, which tied matters at 4-all. The stress for the final goal grew but neither side could solve the others’ defense for a fifth time in regulation and for the second straight day, Azerbaijan headed into extra time. An unfortunate mistake for the Azerbaijani gave way to an own goal, which settled the score at 5-4 for the Czech Republic when the final whistle sounded.
Goals: 1-0: Amir, min. 9 (1); 2-0: Sabir, min. 4 (1); 2-1: Salak, min. 8 (2); 2-2: Salak, min. 2 (2); 3-2: Ramil, min. 1 (2); 3-3: Salak, min. 10 (3); 3-4: Chalupa, min. 4 (3); 4-4: Sabir, min. 4 (3); 4-5: Amid (o.g.), min. 2 (et).
EURO BEACH SOCCER LEAGUE 2015 SUPERFINAL AND PROMOTION FINAL PÄRNU
10.15–Azerbaijan 4-5 (aet) Czech Republic (Division B Group 2)
11.30–Hungary 5-4 Norway (Division B Group 1)
12.45–Turkey 3(4)-3(3) (pso) Romania (Division B Group 2)
14.00–Italy 3(3)-3(1) (pso) Belarus (Division A Group 1)
15.15–Ukraine 4-5 Spain (Division A Group 1)
16.30–Switzerland 5-8 Russia (Division A Group 2)
17.45 – Portugal 6-2 France (Division A Group 2)
19.00 – England 3-5 Estonia (Division B Group 1)
10.15 – Turkey vs Azerbaijan (Division B Group 2)
11.30 – Romania vs Czech Republic (Division B Group 2)
12.45 – Norway vs England (Division B Group 1)
14.00 – Italy vs Ukraine (Division A Group 1)
15.15 – Belarus vs Spain (Division A Group 1)
16.30 – Switzerland vs Portugal (Division A Group 2)
17.45 – Russia vs France (Division A Group 2)
19.00 – Estonia vs Hungary (Division B Group 1)