World champions Portugal suffered their first defeat since 2019 at the hands of Ukraine in the semi-final
Out of all of Europe’s teams, only Ukraine have more wins over Portugal than Portugal have over them, and today saw them notch another one against the European and world champions.
A second low-scoring game saw Spain beat Belarus to seal their place alongside Ukraine in the final. Belarus and Portugal will now meet to contest third place.
In the tussle for finishing positions, Switzerland hung on tightly to a single-goal lead to down Azerbaijan, and Germany handed Italy an historic defeat in the playoffs.
Die Mannschaft will face the Swiss in the bout for fifth place, while Italy and Azerbaijan will contend seventh.
UKR 1-0 POR *AET
Spain awaited the winner of this tie to see who will take the Qualifier crown, but picking a winner was far from easy.
Despite the fact that the match remained 0-0 until extra time – let that sink in – there were numerous occasions for one side to take the lead, and Portugal looked far from comfortable against a team ranked 17 places below them in the Official World Ranking.
Be Martins pulled off an amazing bit of skill and tried a sublime chip that bounced off the bar, and the Ukrainian keeper had the game off his life, keeping out shot after shot from the world champions.
With stars Rui Coimbra and Jordan Santos (the best player in the world) both out of action, Portugal seemed to run out of ideas as the match spilled into extra time.
The winner eventually came, and when it did, it was a player in yellow that scored it. It was in extra time that Voitenko burst down the right wing to smash an incredible hit into the top corner and win the match at the death.
Mykola Kostenko’s men handed Portugal their first defeat since they faced Brazil in the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay, to earn a place in the final against Spain. As a result, Portugal will play Belarus for bronze.
Goals: 0-1: Voitenko, min. 2 (ET);
BEL 1-3 ESP
After winning their crucial games to seal places at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the next objective for Belarus and Spain was to win the European Qualifier; a win today would see them make the final.
The Spanish number seven Domingo struck first, beating a defender and poking the ball home in the dying moments of the first period. Belarus created many chances but weren’t their usual clinical selves in their penultimate match.
The next goal came from the towering figure of Javi Torres in the second period, doubling the advantage for Spain. Keeping such a dangerous attacking team as Belarus out is never easy and eventually Ryabko slotted in a freekick to cut the deficit.
However, that was all that Nico Alvarado’s men could muster, and Spain worked furiously to keep Ryabko from netting again. Despite much keeper rotation, Dona had a great game between the Spanish sticks, which was fitting because today was his 300th appearance with the Spanish national team.
A final-second Mejias penalty wrapped up the points with a 1-3 win, and the victory was marked by Dona being presented with the customary commemorative shirt after the match.
Tomorrow will see Spain meet Ukraine in the final of the European Qualifier, while Belarus will take on Portugal for third place.
Goals: 0-1: Domingo, min. 0 (1); 0-2: Javi Torres, min. 9 (2); 1-2: Ryabko, min. 4 (2); 1-3: Mejias, min. 0 (3);
GER 3(6)-(5)3 ITA
The dream of a ticket to Russia and the 2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup may have ended yesterday, but Germany and Italy were still keen to finish as high in the final standings of the European Qualifier as possible.
Biermann struck first, putting Die Mannschaft ahead with a fine hit, but a Corosiniti double in the final minute of the first period saw Del Duca’s side ahead going into the second. Biermann hit another, but Italy’s star striker Gori looked to have won it with just minutes left.
However, Biermann’s late shot deflected off Simone Marinai and into the net, forcing extra time and then penalties, where the Azzurri captain Corosiniti, who had already scored twice in the game, saw his penalty saved by Mülling.
Germany now have a shot at finishing fifth in the Qualifier, while Italy will fight for seventh.
Goals: 1-0: Biermann, min. 5 (1); 1-1: Corosiniti, min. 0 (1); 1-2: Corosiniti, min. 0 (1); 2-2: Bierman, min. 2 (2); 2-3: Gori, min. 3 (3); 3-3: Marinai (OG), min. 1 (3);
PSO: 0-1: Zurlo, scored; 1-1: Metzler, scored; 1-2: Gori, scored; 2-2: Beqiri, scored; 2-3: Marinai, scored; 3-3: Nowak, scored; 3-4: Frainetti, scored; 4-4: Mutu, scored; 4-5: Palmacci, scored; 5-5: Biermann, scored; 5-5: Corosiniti, saved; 6-5: Körner, saved;
SUI 6-5 AZE
The game between Azerbaijan and Switzerland was to decide who would compete against Germany tomorrow, after Die Mannschaft had secured their place in the fifth-place playoff with a tense win against Italy from the penalty spot.
Ramil tucked away the opener for Azerbaijan midway through the first period. Borer, who sustained a dramatic head injury the previous day was back and fit to convert a penalty before the break.
Ott put the Swiss ahead but Jomard was there to cancel it out once more. The match continued in this way, with one team edging ahead only to be pinned back. The breakthrough came when Azerbaijan defender Jomard, in an attempt to stop Noel Ott get his fourth goal of the game, poked into his own net after having scored earlier in the match.
Angelo Schirinzi’s men then stubbornly held on to their narrow lead until the final whistle sounded. Switzerland will now play Germany in the battle for fifth, while Azerbaijan will meet Italy to contend seventh.
Goals: 0-1: Ramil, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Borer, min. 4 (1); 2-1: Ott, min. 11 (2); 2-2: Jomard, min. 8 (2); 3-2: Borer, min. 6 (2); 3-3: Amid, min. 4 (2); 4-3: Ott, min. 0 (2); 3-4: Sabir, min. 7 (3); 5-4: Ott, min. 5 (3); 6-4: Jomard (OG), min. 2 (3); 6-5: Elchin, min. 1 (3);
For full details on the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup European Qualifier, including standings, stats and fixtures, head to beachsoccer.com.