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07 Nov 2014
Brazil and Russia storm into final
Iran and Portugal lose heartbreakers but will duel for 3rd, Japan and USA will have rematch, while UAE and Morocco will play for 5th
The UAE completes comeback for win
The 4-3 win for the hosts over Japan did not seem to be going the UAE’s way for most of the match, but with them staring down a deficit for most of the game, they responded late to pull out the win. Japan nailed a goal first, after a defensive minded first period. Japan kept their lead, but the UAE hung around by scoring timely goals. In the end, the Emirati came up with more big plays and pulled off the comeback to secure a birth in the 5th place match on Saturday. Japan did not have fortune on their side this week but with great displays of offense and defense, they have a complete and formidable team, who will play in the 7th place match on Saturday.
Two teams with a fighting spirit and unlucky results in the group stage set the stage for a dramatic match and the opening period was a microcosm of that. Japan and the UAE could have both scored multiple first period goals, however Japan managed the only first period goal on a great header from Goto. The first frame ended with Japan holding onto the one goal lead. The squads tried to strike each other in the gut but none of the blows stuck and going into the middle of the second period neither team had scored again. All of that changed with a spectacular strike from Haraguchi, which doubled the Nippon lead. The Emirati quickly answered and got one back on the restart, from Ali Karim. The defenses stood tall the remainder of the period and the middle frame ended with Japan up 2-1.
The UAE was not going to settle for the loss or go easy into the night and they showed that by quickly turning around in the opening minutes of the final frame and connected on a beautiful bicycle kick from M. Alzaabi to level things at 2. As the saying goes, neither team played like they wanted to win, well this was exactly the opposite, they both wanted to win dearly, and were taking their chances on goal. The goals did not flow however due in part to brilliant saves, but also bad bounces for the attackers. The Falcons then took the lead for the first time all match, late in the final period off a clutch strike from A. Beshr. The lead did not stay for long as Goto scored his second of the match to tie things at 3. As if on cue, Ali Karim used his on the field play to say, anything you can do, I can do better, by scoring his second goal on the day, to put the home side back up by one at 4-3. The two teams were held scoreless for the remainder of the match and the UAE hung on for the 4-3 win.
Goals: 1-0: Goto, min. 1 (1); 2-0: Haraguchi, min. 6 (2); 2-1: Ali Karim, min. 6 (2); 2-2: M. Alzaabi, min. 10 (3); 2-3: A. Beshr, min. 4 (3); 3-3: Goto, min. 2 (3); 3-4: Ali Karim, min. 1 (3).
Morocco overcomes slow start for big win
The 7-3 win for Morocco saw a sluggish start for the Moroccans turn into a huge finish. The US scored first and seemed to be headed for a dominating if not easy win when they scored the games’ first two goals and were playing tremendous defense but Morocco quickly recovered and started the comeback near the end of the 1st period, completed the comeback in the second, and began piling on in the final period. Morocco will play again on Saturday against fellow consolation bracket winner, the UAE. The USA will play their final match of the week on Saturday against Japan, which will be a rematch of the thumping group stage match they played on Thursday.
The Americans did not show any ill effects from losing a tight match against Japan on Friday and began the opening period by getting two quick goals, one from Morales and one from Garcia, and the Red, White, and Blue used lock down defense to solidify their great opening frame play, however the Lions of the Atlas used an opportunistic header from Boulakouaba to get one late goal and the game went into the first break with the US up 2-1. The luck and momentum shifted almost from the opening whistle of the middle frame, as the USA could not capitalize on direct kicks and the shots that looked to be going in, bounced over or wide of the net, then the Stars and Stripes scored an own goal, which tied the game at 2. The Moroccan turnaround was far from complete as they scored another two goals in the middle frame to take their own two goal lead, matching a game high, once owned by the Yanks. Garcia did not want to see his compatriots go down silently and he scored his second goal of the match, to get back to within one goal, at 3-4, which is how the score would sit going into the last period.
Morocco took two minutes in the final frame to restore their two goal lead when El Hadaoui stuck a direct kick from near halfway line that skirted just past the American keeper. The American offense seemed to falter in the opening minutes of the final period, as they were unable to mount any substantial attacks. The early goal was all that the Moroccan National Selection had to show for their excellent efforts, on both ends of the pitch, in the deciding frame. In the final minutes, that was no longer true, as El Hamidy hit home a bouncing ball that gave his side the 6-3 lead. Another late goal more than sealed the win for the Lions of the Atlas and the game ended with a score 7-3 for Morocco.
Goals: 0-1: Morales, min. 10 (1); 0-2: Garcia, min. 7 (1); 1-2: Boulakouaba, min. 0 (1); 2-2: Balsano (o.g.), min. 10 (2); 3-2: Boulakouaba, min. 6 (2); 4-2: El Karkouri, min. 4 (2); 4-3: Garcia, min. 0 (2); 5-3: El Hadaoui, min. 10 (3); 6-3: El Hamidy, min. 3 (3); 7-3: Nassim, min. 0 (3).
Russia avoids collapse and exacts revenge
The 4-3 win for Russia over Iran was as tough as they could have expected, maybe tougher, but they played an almost perfect game, tactics, offense, defense, everything. Russia came out with all the pressure on them and they set the tone early, letting Iran know they were ready. The Russians scored twice early but then tactically dropped back on defense which worked wonderfully until the final period when the Russians nearly fell apart, after their starting keeper, Bukhlitskiy exited the match, giving up three goals. Russia barely hung on, not from any help of the heavily lopsided Iran fanbase, and will play in the final on Saturday. Iran played valiantly and apart from the slow start, could have very well won, instead, they will play for 3rd place Saturday.
In what is rapidly becoming a bitter rivalry, both teams jostled and played physical beach soccer but each with their own intentions. Iran wanted to prove their win last year in the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup final was not a fluke. The Russians wanted to show that they deserved to win last year and could beat the determined Princes of Persia. Russia struck first on a play that they have nearly perfected, the simple corner, on a finish from Krash, putting the score at 1-0. Russia was in top-form and nearly flawless to open the game and scored their second goal on a blast from Romanov that put the World Champions up 2-0. Russia took the momentum and their two goal lead into the middle frame. As champions normally do, they adapt to their opponents’ play, which is exactly what both teams did in the second, Iran attacked more but the Russian defense stayed rock solid and did not press matters, with the period ending with the same score, Russia up 2-0.
Two of the world’s best keepers had their skills put to the test and despite the 2-0 Russian lead, P. Hossieni of Iran, was playing out of his mind as well, saving most shots rocketed his way. The final period was emotionally thrilling, to the point that the quality of play from both teams was so high that you had goose bumps watching, precision is an understatement but the struggle for both teams to score was forgotten by the crowd because of the extraordinary defense and goalkeeping. Russia would not be subdued for much longer and Shishin added another goal to push the Russian lead to 3-0. A switch in the Iranian goal could not stop the Russian machine and Paporotnyi scored his first for Russia, making the score 4-0. The European giants could not keep the shut out and Iran got on the board with a diving header from H. Abdollahi which brought the score to 4-1. The Princes of Persia still had aspirations of winning and scored again to put them down only two goals with five minutes remaining. The intensity grew with each passing second and the roar from the stadium might have registered on the Richter scale when in the final minute, Iran scored again, something out of nothing, from M. Ahmadzadeh, to get to within 4-3. Iran found the final answer and things exploded but the goal was after the final buzzer and was called off and Russia hung on 4-3.
Goals: 1-0: Krash, min. 5 (1); 2-0: Romanov, min. 4 (1); 3-0: Shishin, min. 9 (3); 4-0: Paporotnyi, min. 8 (3); 4-1: H. Abdollahi, min. 6 (3); 4-2: A. Naderi, min. 5 (3); 4-3: M. Ahmadzadeh, min. 0 (3).
Brazil looks ready for final after win
The 5-3 win for Brazil over Portugal represented what coming up big in pressure filled moments means. The crowd was into the match, the players were all focused, and the coaches were at the top of their games as well. Brazil took the early lead and stayed in the driver’s seat throughout but every time Portugal started to make some noise, the Canarinho quieted them with their own goal or stone cold defense. The win means Brazil will play for the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup title on Saturday against Russia, the 2013 runner-up. Portugal will face another team that took a tough loss in the semi-finals, in Iran, for 3rd place, on Saturday.
A packed stadium, two of the best teams beach soccer has to offer, and a shared tongue meant that the final match of day four at the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup would be one of the best yet. The prettiest of attacks and passing did not lead to any early goals and the Portuguese and Brazilians remained goalless going into the final minutes of the opening frame. Anderson eventually got the Canarinho on the board late in the period. The selection of the Quinas began searching hard for the equalizer but they could not find it as the Yellow and Blue were employing picturesque defense. The scoring in the second period began when the South Americans slotted home one of the most amazing goals of the year, a shot went off the crossbar, the rebound went to Sidney, who scissor kicked a blast across goal that was heading just wide, when out of nowhere, DDI, flew to the ball and scored the flying header, putting his team up 2-0. The goal machine for Portugal, Belchior, quickly scored the Europeans’ first goal, setting the score at 2-1, advantage Brazil, going into the final break.
The last period encompassed everything that Brazil and Portugal stand for in beach soccer, amazing passes and teamwork, technical shots, and loads of emotion. If the electricity could have been measured, it would have been off the charts as the 3rd Brazilian goal did not faze the Portuguese but instead they looked more and more determined to get back in the match, but the Brazilians held up on their end too. Brazil still let shots rip and it paid off again when Rodrigo nailed home his teams’ 4th, putting the score at 4-1 for the South Americans. Portugal is never out of any match and their captain, Madjer, displayed why when he nailed home a shot that halved the Brazilian lead and put it at 4-2. Seconds later, Brazil restored their three goal lead on another goal from DDI, making the score 5-2. Belchior does not know when to quit and used that tenacity to score his second goal on the day and bring his team to within 2, with only minutes remaining. The 5-3 lead was enough to hold up as Brazil was still up by that score after the final whistle sounded.
Goals: 0-1: Anderson, min. 3 (1); 0-2: DDI, min. 3 (2); 1-2: Belchior, min. 3 (2); 1-3: Sidney, min. 10 (3); 1-4: Rodrigo, min. 8 (3); 2-4: Madjer, min. 4 (3); 2-5: DDI, min. 4 (3); 3-5: Belchior, min. 2 (3).
SAMSUNG BEACH SOCCER INTERCONTINENTAL CUP DUBAI 2014
Japan 3-4 UAE (Playoff for 5th Place
Morocco 7-3 USA (Playoff for 5th Place)
Russia 4-3 Iran (Semi-final)
Portugal 3-5 Brazil (Semi-final)
16:15 - Japan vs. USA (7th Place Match)
17:30 – UAE vs. Morocco (5th Place Match)
18:45 - Iran vs. Portugal (3rd Place Match)
20:00 - Russia vs. Brazil (Final)