Ukraine, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain are the first four teams in the men’s category to secure tickets to Bali
– Italy defeated by Ukraine who qualify for the World Beach Games
– Portugal, Spain and Switzerland cruise into the semi-finals
– Leo Martins overtakes Gori at the top of the scoring charts
The ANOC World Beach Games European Qualifier is down to just four teams, as Ukraine downed Italy in the first game to slip into Extra Time.
Meanwhile, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain all took simpler victories, and Saturday will see the following semi-final matches take place at the See Sicily Arena Beach Stadium:
• Portugal v Switzerland
• Ukraine v Spain
The four losing teams from the quarter-finals, Germany, Turkey, Italy and France, will continue the race to fifth place in the two coming matchdays, and the last ticket to Bali.
Saturday will see Italy and Germany contend a place in Sunday’s shootout for the final place at the 2023 World Beach Games, while Turkey and France will battle over the other.
Ukraine stun Italy to reach World Beach Games
A dramatic Extra Time winner from Andrei Pashko sealed Ukraine’s place at the 2023 World Beach Games, upsetting the hosts on home sand!
Italy were stunned by the visiting Ukraine from the start of their quarter-final match, as Shcherytsia and Borsuk fired the visitors ahead in the opening period.
The Azzurri created chances but the dangerous duo of Zurlo and Gori were out of form, and the star number 10 wasted two set pieces that he would normally have buried. Nerush stood strong to deny Gori the first from the penalty line, and the second, a free kick, he blasted uncharacteristically high and wide.
The second period was more of the same from Ukraine but this was no smash a grab by the men in yellow, as Shcherytsia and Zavorotnyi blasted in two of the best goals you will see at this tournament, pushing the Ukrainian advantage to 4-0.
The Azzurri finally broke through the back lines of their rivals in the last period, as Genovali drilled a low shot across the sand to pull a goal back. This seemed to inspire Del Duca’s men into a stunning comeback, forcing Extra Time with goals from Zurlo, Remedi and Giordani, the equaliser scrambled over the line with just two minutes to go.
But the hero of the day was Pashko, who buried a bouncing shot from distance to snatch the victory from the hosts and win Ukraine’s place at the second edition of the World Beach Games.
Italy, meanwhile, find themselves in a scrap for the finfth and final ticket in the fifth-place playoffs…
15-goal thriller sees Swiss qualify for Bali 2023
Switzerland were without their star keeper Eliott in their quarter-final against neighbouring nation, France, but Kessler stepped up to make some essential early saves. The men in red struck first, as Spacca’s shot bounced over the committed Salazar.
Bru equalised seconds later but a signature Hodel bicycle kick had Schirinzi’s men ahead once more. In an end-to-end opening period, Spacca struck again, while Ott and Belhomme buried free kicks clinically to take the score to 4-2 going into the middle section.
Incredible goal after incredible goal flew in during an action-packed second period, with the two best arguably going to the French, as Bru rose to smash a volley out of the air and then Drouillet raced to save the ball rolling out for a throw-in sending a superb shot into the top scorner of Kessler’s net.
Despite these goals, Rüttimann, Stankovic and a second from Hodel kept the Swiss ahead, going into the final period with the score at 7-5.
Basquaise completed his headed brace for the French and keeper Kessler fired home in the last period, and just when it seemed the goals couldn’t get any more impressive, Tchatat rifled a chip the length of the pitch to make it nine. The Nati held on to their three-goal lead effectively for the nine remaining minutes, sealing the first men’s ticket to the World Beach Games in Bali.
Spain put eight past Germany to qualify for Bali 2023
Knowing a win would send them to the ANOC World Beach Games 2023 in Bali, Spain and Germany faced each other in the quarter-finals of the European Qualifier.
La Roja took an early lead through a bicycle kick from Antonio in the first minute of the game but Thürk equalised two minutes later for the Germans. Spain used two set-pieces to take control of the first period with goals from Arias and Chiky Ardil, going three-one up into the second period.
The second period was well fought but in the last two minutes Spain scored three goals to put one foot in the semi-finals. Alejandro replied on the far post to a counter-attack sparked by Kuman, Mejías finished off a superb piece of teamplay and Arias scored his second blasting a free-kick from his own half into the top corner to put La Roja leading 6-1 ahead of the final 12 minutes.
Spain kept dominating the match and increasing their numbers on the scoreboard with goals from Kuman with a free kick, a bicycle kick from Casano, while Germany scored through Metzler and Thürk for the match to finish 8-3, a result that sees Spain qualify for Bali 2023 and the semi-finals of the European Qualifier.
Portugal seal place at the 2023 World Beach Games
After failing to make the cut in 2019, Portugal qualified for the second edition of the ANOC World Beach Games with a dominant performance against the recently re-promoted to the EBSL Elite, Turkey.
In the day’s third quarter-final of the game, Portugal fell behind to an early Yasin strike but that was the last of the scoring that Turkey would see for a while as Narciso’s men snapped into action.
Bernardo Lopes pounced on a rebound to put away the equaliser. Be Martins then slipped past defender, then the keeper with a deft dummy, to smash into an unguarded net, and Coimbra’s deflected shot made it three before the break.
Belchior, Andre Lourenço (with two) and Leo Martins joined the scoring in the next 12 minutes, and what turned out to be a consolation bicycle kick was powered home in spectacular style by Cem Keskin.
The final period began at 7-2, with The Crescent Stars facing a mountainous task to get back into the match. The reigning European champions slowed the pace of the match, but let a couple more well-taken consolation goals slip through.
But Leo Martins sealed a hat-trick, overtaking Gabriele Gori in the scoring charts, as Portugal clinch a semi-final against Switzerland, and an all-important ticket to Bali.
Switzerland 9-6 France
Spain 8-3 Germany
Portugal 11-4 Turkey
Italy 4-5 Ukraine *AET
Czech Republic 6-1 Norway
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.
For full details on the ANOC World Beach Games European Qualifier Catania 2022, head to beachsoccer.com.