Spain overran Switzerland while the blue and yellow battle finished in favour of Ukraine
– Spain cruise past Switzerland to seal ticket to Bali
– Ukraine edge out Swedes to qualify
– England down hosts to top Group A
The four women’s teams heading to Bali for the 2023 World Beach Games in Bali have been confirmed after the matchday on Friday in Catania: England, Italy, Spain and Ukraine.
In Group A, the two top sides had already been decided, so all eyes were on Group B in the last day of group games…
Ukraine down Sweden to reach the World Beach Games
Ukraine and Sweden knew when they faced each other that only a win would take them to Bali.
Ukraine had the better start, materialised into goal by a long shot from Volovenko midway through the first period. The Ukrainians would double the lead before the break, with Dekhtiar dribbling an opponent before firing a long-ranged shot.
The match was far from being settled and Kajsa restored Sweden’s hopes as she found the way to the back of the net six minutes into the second period. But Dekhtiar would once again surprise Swedish goalkeeper Olivia lobing her to put Ukraine leading by two goals once again. Yurii Klymenko’s team would go into the break in an even more comfortable position as Vypasniak bicycle kick gave no chances to Olivia.
Ukraine would increase the difference four minutes into the final period through Klipachenko, leaving things very complicated for Sweden, even though Tuva still made it five-two converting a free-kick, a result that sent Ukraine to the semi-finals and to the ANOC World Beach Games 2023 in Bali.
Spain run riot to secure tickets to Bali
Spain and Switzerland stepped on the sand with all to play for, with La Roja warned after their defeat at the hands of Ukraine in the previous day.
Three minutes into the game, Cris sat down the goalkeeper and dribbled past a defender to put Spain ahead. Manau would make it two-nil with an unsavable shot from the middle of the park finding the space next to the post to get in.
In the second period, Spain made it three-nil as Jou dived to head a throw-in by Manau confirming La Roja’s superiority in the match. Lorena made it four-nil before Sara Garcia cut the distance between both teams with a shot from her own half, finding Laura out of position. The goal motivated the Swiss and especially Sara Garcia who would score again with a bicycle kick to make it four-two.
The match went alive into the final twelve minutes, but Sara Tui with a good left-foot shot tranquilised the Spanish scoring La Roja’s fifth goal, and one minute later Andrea Mirón fired a free-kick from the halfway line to put Spain leading by four goals again. Sara Tui’s second goal put the scoreboard seven-two in favour of the Spanish, and Cris would still score her second goal from the penalty line making it eight-two, a result that qualified Cristian Mendez’s team to the semi-finals and to next year’s ANOC World Beach Games in Bali.
England defeat hosts to top Group A
Each of these top European sides had already secured their places at the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games in Bali, but the mission of each was now clear: lifting the Qualifier trophy in Catania.
Italy seemed to start off the match the brighter side, but Gemma Hillier flew in a the far post to turn in a brilliant cross from Sarah Kempson. Soon after Buckingham was brought down in the box, won a penalty and calmly slotted it past Ruotolo.
Claudia Saggion stepped up to score a wonder goal before the break, pulling the Azzurre back to 2-1. Hannah Short re-established the two-goal cushion for England after the restart.
Molly Clark, the 2019 Best Player in the world, was taken down on the halfway line and punished Italy further with a cleanly struck free kick to make it 4-1.
Del Duca’s side did manage to pull one back in the dying moments, a brilliant volley from Vechionne, but it wasn’t enough to stop England from clinching the group title, and claiming revenge for the defeat in the EBSL, back in Nazaré in July.
England will now face old rivals Spain in the semi-finals tomorrow, while Italy will go up against Ukraine.
Ukraine 5-2 Sweden
Spain 8-2 Switzerland
Italy 2-4 England
The matches are scheduled from 29 August to 4 September at See Sicily Arena Beach Stadium, and will decide which five men’s and four women’s national teams will represent Europe at the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games in Bali.