Both teams will decide the winner of the Qualifier in tomorrow's final
The two teams who will represent North- and Central America and the Caribe at the ANOC World Beach Games Bali 2023 have been defined: the USA and El Salvador won in the semi-finals of the Qualifier at the Estádio Nacional Costa del Sol and secured a place in Bali in August.
Handful of goals in American win
From the first period, the United States took control of the game, securing a 2-0 lead with goals from Christopher Albiston and Cody Valcarcel.
Trinidad and Tobago made attempts to score, but struggled to create clear chances against the American goalkeeper, Christopher Toth, who only had to make a couple of interventions.
In the second period, the United States maintained possession of the ball for most of the time, creating more opportunities to score, but only managing to convert one more goal, scored by Gabriel Silveira to make it 3-0.
The fourth goal for the North American team came early in the third period, scored by Conner Rezende, and Álvaro Franco completed the 5-0 victory with the fifth goal.
Thrilling encounter decided on penalties
The semifinal between the host team and Costa Rica was a match of high intensity and great emotion from start to finish.
Elmer Robles’ shot that shook the post and Eliodoro Portillo’s long-distance strike were the first warnings from the Salvadoran team, which was surprised by the Costa Ricans with Deyber Villegas’ goal. Villegas found the ball in the area and sent it to the back of the net with a soft touch, out of reach of Eliodoro.
Costa Rica managed to maintain the minimum advantage during the first half, but the blue team reacted in the second period with Heber Ramos’ goal, who beat goalkeeper Jeaustin Medina with a powerful shot in a great individual maneuver.
The opportunities for the Costa Rican team decreased, but every counterattack was lethal. Under that formula, they found the second goal, which Estiven Espinoza scored with a low shot that slipped past Erick Nájera, who had replaced Portillo.
The Salvadoran team equalized the scoreboard again with Jason Urbina’s free kick goal and one minute later, Erick Nájera turned the score around with a fantastic goal from his own area to make it 3-2.
The Costa Ricans were not intimidated by the crowd’s enthusiasm or the good performance of the Selecta and generated opportunities for their third goal. Urbina had the chance to seal the match with a penalty that he sent to one side with more than eight minutes left to play.
El Salvador had another clear scoring opportunity with a free kick that Frank Velásquez earned and Heber Ramos converted with a solid shot for the 4-2.
Nájera was also a protagonist in the final stretch of the game with a spectacular save, but a couple of actions later Christian Prado fired past the national goalkeeper and put the Costa Ricans within striking distance of a tie. It was the captain of “la Sele”, Greivin Pacheco, who was in charge of scoring the 4-4 equalizer.
Jonathan Sánchez scored again and put the Costa Ricans in the lead, making it clear that they wanted to be in the final of the qualifier and in Bali.
With 1:41 minutes left to play, Andrés Osorio extended the game to extra time by scoring a penalty for the 5-5.
In the penalties shoot-out, Frank Velásquez, Óscar Cruz, Darwin Ramírez and Melvin Quinteros scored for El Salvador, while Christian Prado and Ratchith Gómez were the only ones able to convert their shots for Costa Rica, as captain Greivin Pacheco and Jonaiker Gamboa missed their turn.
Bahamas to decide fifth place against Guatemala
Bahamas defeated Belize 7-3 in the first game of Friday’s session at the Costa del Sol National Stadium.
A brace from Wood Julmis and his goalkeeper Michael Butler were crucial in propelling the Bahamians to their first victory in the qualifier.
In Julmis’ case, he scored both of his goals from the penalty spot, while Butler beat his colleague Jahyn Mckenzie with two powerful shots from his area.
Later on, the Bahamians scored three more goals through Jean Francois, Gavin Christie, and Daron Beneby.
In the final stretch of the game, Belizean Kenen Castillo gave his team some breathing room with a brace, but they still ended up losing 3-7.
RESULTS – 7 April
United States of America 5-0 Trinidad & Tobago
El Salvador (4)5-5(2) Costa Rica
Bahamas 7-3 Belize