An Iberian derby will decide who takes home the gold medal on the final day of the European Games
Late goals and tight margins marked the semi-final matches at the European Games in Minsk, as Chiky netted a hat-trick to push Spain past Switzerland, and extra time saw Portugal knock out Ukraine.
Spain and Iberian rivals Portugal will contend for the goal and silver medals, while Switzerland and Ukraine will fight for bronze.
In the play-off matches, Gabriele Gori, who is no stranger to a Top Scorer award, put five goals past Romania as the Azzurri won by ten goals to three.
But Russia were taken all the way to the penalty spot before they could see off Belarus, and as a result they will face Italy in tomorrow’s fifth place play-off.
Spain 5-3 Switzerland
It had been far from an easy road to reach the semi-finals, as both teams had tasted defeat in the group stages, but a loss today would be fatal for Spain or Switzerland.
Ott got the Swiss off the mark halfway through the first period and, as they had in yesterday’s match against Italy, La Roja found it difficult to make the most of some promising attacking chances.
The second period began with Switzerland enjoying a narrow advantage, made a little less narrow, when Stankovic doubled it. In the closing stages of the second period of play, Chiky pulled one back for Spain.
The other side of the break, Chiky struck again after just 12 seconds and Joaquin Alonso’s men were back on level terms. Spain came to life late on in the match and within two minutes of the last 12, they led 4-2 thanks to Antonio who, after his heroics yesterday, nosed Spain ahead.
Llorenç then struck to make it four and after having led for most of the match, Switzerland were suddenly looking vulnerable.
Glenn Hodel managed to cut the deficit to just one once more, making it 4-3, but Switzerland struggled to find that all important equailser. Then the man of the hour scored goal number three, as Chiky wrapped up the place in the final showdown.
The broken Swiss will now have to fight for bronze in tomorrow’s match. The victory in the bag, the Spanish players celebrated together on the sand, but will it be gold or silver for La Roja on the final day on Minsk?
Goals: 0-1: Ott, min. 5 (1); 0-2: Stankovic, min. 6 (2); 1-2: Chiky, min. 2 (2); 2-2: Chiky, min. 11 (3); 3-2: Antonio, min. 10 (3); 4-2: Llorenç, min. 9 (3); 4-3: Hodel, min. 8 (3); 5-3: Chiky, min. 0 (3);
Portugal 3-2 Ukraine *AET
The prize for victory in the semi-final today was a match against Spain in the showdown for a European Games gold medal tomorrow.
Both of these European beach soccer giants had fought hard to reach today’s bout, and Ukraine had suffered a heavy defeat to Russia yesterday in their final group game.
It was the Portuguese talisman, Madjer, who opened the scoring after just four minutes. The game was tight, and it was only a matter of time before Ukraine hit back. They did so when Korniichuk managed to level the scoreline just minutes before the first whistle sounded.
After both sides had clear chances to take the lead, it was Ukraine who got ahead through Zavorotnyi in the second period as he converted a penalty. They managed to hang on to this advantage all the way through to the final third of the match.
But the big number two, Coimbra, was on hand to convert a second for Portugal and force extra time.
Incredibly, with just 18 seconds of the added three minutes left, Leo Martins found that all-important goal to win the game for Portugal.
Mario Narciso’s men will now face Spain in the contest for the gold, while Ukraine take on Switzerland to vie for bronze.
Goals: 1-0: Madjer, min. 8 (1); 1-1: Korniichuk, min. 4 (1); 1-2: Zavorotnyi, min. 8 (2);2-2: Coimbra, min. 10 (3); 3-2: Leo Martins, min. 0 (ET);
Italy 10-3 Romania
Having swallowed the bitter pill of exiting the European Games yesterday, Italy now had their sights set on fifth place.
Romania were yet to pick up points in Minsk ahead of this match, and they were trailing within just two minutes when Marinai pounced to give Italy the lead.
Croitoru, however, had an immediate response leveling the match up again, but the prolific Gabriele Gori, who last month won the awards for top scorer in the Italian league first stage and Euro Winners Cup, retook the lead.
By the time the first whistle blew, the number ten had a hat-trick, shooting into the leading scorer position for the tournament with seven in total.
The second period saw no more goals as the Romanians fought hard to keep out the strikers in blue. As the final period got underway, the Romanian captain Maci struck twice out of nowhere to bring the score to a more balanced 4-3.
For a while it looked as if a comeback against the European champions was on. But then Gori netted Italy’s fifth, and the stalemate was broken. Braces from Palmacci and Zurlo followed swiftly and Marsilian’s men were well beaten.
Gori polished off the match with goal number five of the day (ninth of the competition ¡) putting the Azzurri in a string position for a fifth-place finish with a 10-3 win.
Goals: 1-0: Marinai, min. 10 (1); 1-1: Croitoru, min. 10 (1); 2-1: Gori, min. 10 (1); 3-1: Gori, min. 9 (1); 4-1: Gori, min. 4 (1); 4-2: Maciuca, min. 11 (3); 4-3: Maciuca, min. 10 (3); 5-3: Gori, min. 7 (3); 6-3: Palmacci, min. 5 (3); 7-3: Palmacci, min. 4 (3); 8-3: Zurlo, min. 3 (3); 9-3: Zurlo, min. 3 (3); 10-3: Gori, min. 2 (3);
Belarus 5(2)-(3)5 Russia *PSO
The hosts had been knocked out of the running for a gold at their home event, and they now turned their attention to a best possible finishing position.
But following an early exit from the European Games, the Russians were also after a fifth-place finish, and were ready to fight for it.
Things didn’t start well for Mikhail Likhachev’s side, as Belarus scored twice in the opening two minutes to seize control of the match. Kryshanov pulled one back but Piatrouski added a third for Belarus just before the first whistle.
Russia were lagging going into the second period, but their hero was Paporotnyi, who pulled off an incredible solo comeback, netting three in the first half of the next stage of play.
The Russians now enjoyed a slim 3-4 lead as the final period began. Midway through the last 12 minutes, Hapon equalised and Savich then took the lead back for Belarus. Zemskov netted late to force extra time in a real rollercoaster of a match.
It was penalties that decided who would face Italy in tomorrow’s play-off for fifth place, and after a Bokach miss, Russia held their nerve to convert all three spotkicks Belarus will face Romania once more to see who will finish the European Games in seventh.
Goals: 1-0: Ryabko, min. 11 (1); 2-0: Kanstantsinau, min. 10 (1); 2-1: Kryshanov, min. 1 (1);3-1: Piatrouski, min. 1 (1); 3-2: Paporotnyi, min. 9 (2); 3-3: Paporotnyi, min. 9 (2); 3-4: Paporotnyi, min. 6 (2); 4-4: Hapon, min. 6 (3); 5-4: Savich, min. 4 (3); 5-5: Zemskov, min. 2 (3);
PSO: 1-0: Savich, scored; 1-1: Krash, scored; 1-1: Bokach, missed; 1-2: Paporotnyi, scored; 2-2: Chaikouski, scored; 2-3: Shishin, scored;
Stay up to date on the fixtures, results and standing of European Games Minsk 2019 on the Beach Soccer Worldwide website.