Portugal and Estonia clinch point from 9 meters out as Italy and Switzerland show off their physical prowess
The Czech Republic look confident in opening win
The 2-0 win for the Czech Republic over Turkey was a surprise considering how both teams had earned their qualification to the Promotion Final, but that is one reason beach soccer is so great, on almost any day almost any team can win. The Czechs were steady as they defended and attacked until they found their first goal, all the while shutting down the always potent Turkish offense. Turkey dominated the middle frame in chances but could not find the back of the net and by the time the match ended, the Narodak earned the tight victory. The win sets the Czech Republic up for their showdown against Azerbaijan on Friday, which could go a long way in determining the group winner. Turkey will have more chances and will need to get their offense rolling against Romania on Friday.
The Czech Republic looked like an underdog on paper but they began the match, in the opening seconds actually, by scoring on a blast from Hurab, and were it not for the crossbar and Turkish goalie, the score could have been much higher in the first minute alone. Turkey was held down on the offensive end, with the Czechs playing spectacular defence and the first real attempt on their goal did not come until final minutes of the frame. The remainder of the period was scoreless and the teams went into the first break with the Czech Republic up 1-0. The Crescent Stars began the second period with a much higher energy than the first but the equalizer was much easier to talk about than obtain and the score stayed the same going into the final minutes of the middle frame. The Czech Republic was forced to play the rest of the period on the defensive but they did well to stifle Turkey and the score sat at 1-0 for the Czechs going into the final frame.
12 minutes are all that stood in between the Czech Republic and an opening day upset and instead of staying on their heels and trying to repel the Turkish attacks, they went on the attack in the opening seconds of the final period. The aggression eventually paid-off with a clutch overhead goal from Salak, which set the score at 2-0 for the Czechs going into the final minutes of the match. Turkey regained their footing and starting pushing but the Czech goaltending and defense was too solid and when the referee signaled the end of the match, the score was 0-0 for the Czech Republic.
Goals: 1-0: Hurab, min. 11 (1); 2-0: Salak, min. 6 (3).
Romania grinds out see-saw OT win
The 6-5 (aet) victory for Romania over Azerbaijan was a match that no one wanted to end, as the quality of play never faltered. The two squads battled back-and-forth for every minute and in the end only an early overtime goal could separate the teams. Romania struck first but it then looked like Azerbaijan would run away with matters after they seized a 2-1 lead. That was only the beginning. The National Selections then exchanged goal after goal after goal, taking a 5-5 score into the three minute extra period. Maci’s hat-trick secured his teams’ victory, with the final goal coming at the perfect moment. The win in extra time gives Romania two points and a great start to the event leading them into their second match, against Turkey on Friday. Azerbaijan fought hard enough for a victory but they will need to rebound against the Czech Republic on Friday, if they hope to advance to Division A.
The field was wide open in the opening period with both sides taking shots on net but the goalies for both teams were earning their keep by saving everything that came their way, and the score stayed at 0-0 going into the heart of the frame. Despite the level score, the speed was fast and varied but the Azerbaijani looked like the stronger side, but that did not equate into any early goals and in fact, Raj from Romania nailed home the first shot after a defensive lapse from the Land of Fire. That goal spurred Azerbaijan to dig deeper and they did with two quick strikes from Rufat and Sabir, which put the score at 2-1 for Azerbaijan going into the second period. The Milli kept control of momentum but a long-range strike from I. Poste erased the one goal deficit for the Romanians just past the midway point in the frame. Like the plot of a great thriller, the action jumped again, this time with a goal from Boata, putting the Tricolorii back up by one goal at 3-2, with one period left.
Action did not come to a halt in the final period; it was the opposite with both sides scoring early and often. First Azerbaijan found the equalizer, but Romania took the lead again, this time from their prolific goal scorer Maci, although that was then quickly erased by Asif, putting the score at 4-4 with less than four minutes gone in the period. Asif was not done yet as he nailed home another shot after great passing, to put Azerbaijan ahead 5-4 in the final minutes of the match. The Romanians had a reply and scored the 10th goal on another shot from Maci, his second goal, which settled the score at 5-5 and the match headed into overtime with the same score. Maci made sure his day ended with a win and a third goal, giving his side the deciding goal in the extra frame, leaving the final score at 6-5.
Goals: 0-1: Raj, min. 5 (1); 1-1: Rufat, min. 4 (1); 2-1: Sabir, min. 4 (1); 2-2: I. Poste, min. 5 (2); 2-3: Boata, min. 3 (2); 3-3: Jomard, min. 9 (3); 3-4: Maci, min. 8 (3); 4-4: Asif, min. 8 (3); 5-4: Asif, min. 3 (3); 5-5: Maci, min. 3 (3); 5-6: Maci, min. 2 (et).
England upends Hungary for important opening win
The 3-1 win for England over Hungary was the best possible start for one side and a difficult begin to the event for the other. England began slow and steady, gaining a 1-0 advantage before turning on the afterburners in the final frame, pulling away from the Division A side, Hungary. The victory puts England in a great position for the remainder of the event as they earned three points and will look to build further upon this win in their next match. England will face the hosts, Estonia, in the final match of the day on Friday. Hungary will still have their chances and they know all-too-well the perils of navigating through the Promotion Final as they did it last year to earn their Division A status this season. The Hungarians will next face Norway on Friday, looking for their first win.
Hungary and England started play with opportunities to score but the offenses had not found the right calibration and their shots were flying just wide but things first clicked for England. Just past the midway point in the frame, Clarke nailed home the games’ first goal giving his side the 1-0 lead and more confidence going into the final minutes of the period. The Golden Team saw all of their close calls fall short and the period finished with the English up 1-0. The middle frame saw England sit back a little more and wait for the action to come to them but it was also due in part to the more attacking style adopted by the Hungarians. As the period progressed, the Three Lions started mounting more and more attempts but with only a few minutes left in the frame, the score sat at 1-0 for England, which is how the middle frame would end.
England saw the finish line, only 12 minutes left and it was all in front of them, so they knew the stakes and what they had to do. The bottom line was to score more goals and hold off Hungary. However, the Golden Team was only down by one goal and they knew that victory was well within reach. The Hungarians were playing with desperation looking for their first goal, but in the early going of the frame, neither side had scored, though just before the midway point in the period Lawson scored his first to give the Three Lions their second goal and the 2-0 lead. Clarke then quickly added an open-net goal that sealed the win. Hungary added a garbage-time goal, in the final ten seconds of the match to set the final score at 3-1 for England.
Goals: 0-1: Clarke, min. 5 (1); 0-2: Lawson, min. 7 (3); 0-3: Clarke, min. 6 (3); 1-3: Besenyei, min. 0 (3).
Ukraine seizes late momentum for victory
The 6-5 win for Ukraine over Belarus was a goal poacher’s ultimate dream as both teams utilized perfect spacing and rebounds to earn more than one goal. Belarus scored first but that only ignited the battle with an early goal, although the teams exchanged blows left and right until the Ukrainians pulled away late for the game clinching goals they needed. The triumph for Ukraine was much needed as they will take three points into their next match on Friday, against a Spanish side that will have a lot to prove. Belarus played an exceptional match but they will need to play a little better in their next match if they hope to secure a win and points. The Belarusians will play their next match against Italy on Friday.
Belarus has some of the best goalkeeping in Europe but also they have one very talismanic goal scorer and both were on full-display in the opening minutes of the match. The Belarusians scored the first goal from Bryshtsel, who was in the right place at the right time for a rebound from a lazy back pass, while on the other end Makarevich had more than one diving save in the opening minutes, to keep the score at 1-0 for Belarus. The Ukrainians took all the time in the period they could before scoring their first two goals, both in the final minute of play, taking a one goal lead at 2-1 going into the first break. Similar to the opening frame, the second period began with a quick strike from the Nacionalnaya Sbornaya and that strike put the score at 2-2. Medvid made sure that the middle 12 periods did not end in a tie and he put the Blue and Yellows up once again, by a score of 3-2, and that score would hold going into the final frame.
Ukraine nailed the woodwork in the opening minutes of the final frame and just as how so often happens in beach soccer, the opponent, in this case Belarus, countered to bring the score to 4-3. Zborovskyi wanted to make sure that the Belarusians did not fully mount the comeback and he used his second to third goals to give his side the 5-3 lead with less than half the period remaining. Those two goals were cut-in-half once again; this time from Bokach, and the score was only 5-4 for Ukraine going into the last minutes. The Blue and Yellows used a late goal to give them just enough distance to earn the win and when the final buzzer sounded, the score was 6-5 for Ukraine.
Goals: 0-1: Bryshtsel, min. 11 (1); 1-1: Zborovskyi, min. 0 (1); 2-1: Voitok, min. 0 (2); 2-2: Kanstantsinau, min. 11 (2); 3-2: Medvid, min. 3 (2); 4-2: Zborovskyi, min. 10 (3); 4-3: Davidovich, min. 7 (3); 5-3: Zborovskyi, min. 4 (3); 5-4: Bokach, min. 4 (3); 6-4: Borsuk I., min. 1 (3); 6-5: Bokach, min. 0 (3).
Italy clears their way atop Group 1 in the Superfinal
The Italian National Team keeps playing at a high pace this season. A new power display by the Azzurri today turned into a heavy punishment for Spain, who now sees their way to the Superfinal decider harder than ever.
Only two minutes into the game, Marinai swept the Italian ahead, making clear that, after the bitter defeat in the semi-finals of the World Cup, the Azzurri would make the most of their chances to win the continental crown. Despite that goal, Spain stood still, trying to counteract the Italian dominion. That got even harder with Di Palma’s tremendous volley for the 0-2, but Pajón immediately cut the distance with the 1-2. There still was a lot to be discussed on the sand in Pärnu.
Italy geared up in the second period, with a 0-2 run that left the score pretty unbalanced. Ramacciotti would add to that advantage to keep the transalpine momentum, and practically decide the game midway third period. Llorenç pulled a rabbit off the hat for the 2-5, but that was not enough to make Italy stumble, and two more goals in the last stage of the game would round a stout score.
With this solid win, Italy position themselves as one of the clearest favourites in this EBSL Superfinal Pärnu 2015, and clearly target the continental throne. Spain, in turn, will need to improve a lot if they want to be competing for the crown until the end, beginning with a challenging game tomorrow against Ukraine.
Goals: 0-1: Marinai, min. 10 (1); 0-2: Di Palma, min. 3 (1); 1-2: Pajón, min. 2 (1); 1-3: Zurlo, min. 3 (2); 1-4: Corosiniti, min. 1 (2); 1-5: Ramacciotti, min. 7 (3); 2-5: Llorenç, min. 6 (3); 2-6: Ramacciotti, min. 4 (3); 2-7: Zurlo, min. 0 (3);
Switzerland remains undefeated in Euro season
The 5-2 win for Switzerland over France was close throughout and there were moments when a French upset looked inevitable but it was the experienced Swiss side that earned the three points and as a result, they have yet to lose in the Euro Beach Soccer League 2015 season. France jumped on top first but it was Switzerland that regrouped and started rattling off goals, including a four-bagger from Stankovic, and eventually pulled away. The win gives Switzerland three points which will be very important in advancing, especially since they play Russia on Friday. France showed that they can play with anyone and they will need to build on that going into their next match on Friday against Portugal.
Switzerland looked unstoppable in the Siófok Group Stage but France came into this game with a chip on their shoulder and despite sound team-play from the Swiss, France broke through first and took the 1-0 lead after Basquaise’s goal. The deficit did not last long as Denz nailed home a rebound for La Nati to tie the match at 1-1, midway through the opening frame. The sides finished the first 12 minutes with the same score and headed into the middle frame even at 1. Les Bleus were playing every bit as tough as proving to be a tough opponent for the Swiss and the score did not budge as it went into the heart of the game. Late in the frame, the Swiss Bomber, Stankovic, nailed in his first goal on the day and gave his side their first lead of the day at 2-1. Stankovic was graced with a gift from Ott only a minute later and the frame came to an end with Switzerland up 3-1.
A two-goal disadvantage is nothing to stress about but against a team that can counter when you press, like the Swiss, it is more difficult to come from behind. The French knew they needed something and a goal from Fischer midway through the frame energized France’s side, but it did not last long as Stankovic scored his third goal on an amazing bicycle kick to restore his sides’ two goal lead, at 4-2. Number 9 for Switzerland was not finished as he used a direct kick to score his fourth goal of the game and make sure that the French could not mount a comeback. The last minute goal proved to be the last of the match and the whistle sounded, signifying the 5-2 Swiss victory.
Goals: 1-0: Basquaise, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Denz, min. 6 (1); 1-2: Stankovic, min. 2 (2); 1-3: Stankovic, min. 0 (2); 2-3: Fischer, min. 6 (3); 2-4: Stankovic, min. 5 (3); 2-5: Stankovic, min. 1 (3).
Portugal stays on top of world after penalties win
The 3(3)-3(2) penalties win for Portugal over Russia was a rematch of one of the semi-final matches in Portugal in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and it was an amazing display of power from the last three World Cup Champions. Russia won in 2011 and 2013 while Portugal won this year in homeland. The match started in favour of Russia but Portugal fought back before Russia forced overtime and eventual penalties. Things were still going Russia’s way until the shootout but both sides looked prepared for the Superfinal. The win puts Portugal second in the group, behind Switzerland, due to the Swiss winning in regular time, but the Portuguese will look for more points on Friday against the leading Swiss side. Russia can fully bounce back but they must first defeat France on Friday.
The rematch of the year began with both teams barely missing opportunities to seize momentum and the lead but the two powerhouses pushed each other to the brink. The goals did not come early but the crowd was just as interested as the players were and the atmosphere was more that of a final than that of an opening day penultimate match. The game was broken open when Ilinskii of Russia nearly single-handedly gave his team the 1-0 lead late in the period, and that is how the frame would end. The first half of the middle frame was played very defensively from both Selections but at the midway point, the Portuguese turned it on and scored back-to-back goals from Jose Maria and Alan, to give their side the 2-1 lead, their first of the day. The Big Red Beach Machine had a reply to those goals, and it was their own equalizer, from Krash, putting the score at 2-2 going into the final break.
The final period had both teams open up the proceedings scrambling for a goal, but the goal did not come as early as the teams would have liked. The desperation was evident but slight miscues and misfires led to a stalemate in the period, until Madjer of Portugal was awarded a direct kick from midfield and his leg rarely misses from that distance, so the goal put Portugal up for the second time, this time at 3-2. The Russians have a knack for coming up big in big moments, and when they need it most, like clockwork, Krash scored his second of the day to tie matters at 3-all with under 4 minutes left in the game. The teams could not find an answer in regulation and the game went into overtime with the same score, 3-3. Nothing was created in the extra frame and the match headed into the all-deciding penalties. In the fifth shot, Krash sent his attempt to the post and Jordan did not miss the chance to seal the win for his side.
Goals: 0-1: Ilinskii, min. 2 (1); 1-1: Jose Maria, min. 6 (2); 2-1: Alan, min. 6 (2); 2-2: Krash, min. 5 (2); 3-2: Madjer, min. 4 (3); 3-3: Krash, min. 1 (3).
Penalties: Leonov: Goal; Coimbra: Goal; Paporotnyi: Goal; Madjer: Goal; Krash: Miss; Jordan: Goal
Estonia holds off rally to win in penalties
The 5(1)-5(3) penalties win for Estonia over Norway was a great display of home-field advantage, as the teams began with some nerves but an exciting first goal came in the middle frame and then the whole city was behind the Estonian side and they used that to score again, all the while keeping their backlines and defense tight enough to severely limit the Norse side, until the final minutes. Neither side scored in the first period but things changed in the second and third and Estonia gave themselves some breathing room but Norway more than fought back, tying the game in the last minute to send the game to overtime, and the eventual penalty shoot-out. The win gives Estonia one point and they will need that going forward as they will face England on Friday, in a clash of the top of Division B Group 1 winners. Norway showed the kind of heart and grit that they need to win the Promotion Final but they will need to battle the very tough Hungary side.
The two Division B teams began with a fantastic energy and the crowd could tell as well as they fed on the play and vice-versa but the teams were not able to hit the back of the onion bag in the opening minutes and the match headed into the final minutes of the period tied at 0-0. Both keepers were asked to keep their teams in proceedings and they both did, amazingly actually, holding the score to 0-0 going into the first break. The packed-crowd was delighted with more of the same action in middle frame but the defense stayed air-tight and the heart of the match came and went without a goal, but the Norwegians and Estonians were both knocking on the door. A missed penalty almost devastated the home crowd but a few minutes later the Blues scored on a huge goal from Raku, which put the score at 1-0. Estonia tacked on another goal with precisely one minute left in the frame and period ended with the hosts up 2-0.
It was as if both teams kept all their energy saved until the final frame, when they did not look fatigued at all and both sides exploded for goals and goals. The Norway squad did not want to give up and it showed as they quieted the home crowd and slowly, well in the span of 12 minutes, clawed their way back into the match. The Estonians scored as well but they had not built a big enough lead to earn the victory in regular time and the frenzy to score at the end of the period led to a stalemate and headed to an extra frame tied at 5-5. The overtime was hectic with shots and action abounding but neither team scored then either and the game went into penalties.
Goals: 0-1: Raku, min. 2 (2); 0-2: Teino, min. 1 (2); 1-2: Salveson, min. 10 (3); 1-3: Truusalu, min. 7 (3); 2-3: Aarskog, min. 6 (3); 2-4: Lukk, min. 6 (3); 3-4: Salveson, min. 3 (3); 4-4: Senja, min. 4 (3); 4-5: Teino, min. 4 (3); 5-5: Senja, min. 0 (3).
Penalties: Raku: Goal; Jacobsen: Goal; Truusalu: Goal; Aarskog: Saved; Sooaluste: Goal
EBSL SUPERFINAL AND PROMOTION FINAL PÄRNU 2015
10.15–Czech Republic 2-0 Turkey (Division B Group 2)
11.30–Azerbaijan 5-6 (aet) Romania (Division B Group 2)
12.45–Hungary 1-3 England (Division B Group 1)
14.00–Ukraine 6-5 Belarus (Division A Group 1)
15.15–Spain 2-7 Italy (Division A Group 1)
16.30–France 2-5 Switzerland (Division A Group 2)
17.45 – Portugal 3(3)-3(2) (pso) Russia (Division A Group 2)
19.00 – Norway 5(1)-5(3) (pso) Estonia (Division B Group 1)
Matches for tomorrow:
10.15–Azerbaijan vs Czech Republic (Division B Group 2)
11.30–Hungary vs Norway (Division B Group 1)
12.45–Turkey vs Romania (Division B Group 2)
14.00–Italy vs Belarus (Division A Group 1)
15.15–Ukraine vs Spain (Division A Group 1)
16.30–Switzerland vs Russia (Division A Group 2)
17.45 – Portugal vs France (Division A Group 2)
19.00 – England vs Estonia (Division B Group 1)