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05 Sep 2015
Championship Sunday is set after final qualification day
Egypt and Italy will battle for Gold while Morocco and Libya narrowly missed the final but will still fight for Bronze
France rebound to win and head to 5th Place Match
The 5-2 win for France over Turkey was a bit of a statement game as France only lost one match in the group games but they were on the outside looking in for a medal. France started stronger and faster and built a nice lead before Turkey fought back and made the match even more interesting but when all was said and done, it was not enough for Turkey to overcome France. The victory was France’s third of the event and it puts them in the 5th Place Match against Lebanon on Sunday. Turkey will still be playing on Sunday and it will be against Tunisia in the 7th Place Match.
Turkey and France both had very high expectations for this Olympic family event but they were both still proud to be fighting for a spot in the 5th Place Match and physical play was on full display, showing just that in the matches’ opening minutes. It was the French who had the best possible chance early, but a saved penalty meant that the score stayed 0-0, however not for long. On the ensuing corner, Soares nailed home the shot, putting Les Bleus up 1-0. The match was about to head to the first break with France up 1-0 but they scored on a strike from Lauthe to go into the middle frame up 2-0. The French were on a mission and they were in top-form as they added a third goal in the middle of the second period to go up 3-0, while still shutting down the always potent Turkish offense. The Crescent Stars were not about to accept defeat and they scored their first on a hit from Erkan, which put the score at 3-1 for France going into the final minutes of the middle frame. France would add another goal before the period finished the Les Bleus took a 4-1 lead into the last break.
The last period began with neither side pressing matters but that changed after Lauthe scored his second on the day, pushing the French lead to four goals at 5-1. The lead was the biggest of the match and at that point it looked like they could and would score many more. That was not the ending that Turkey had in mind as they scored their second goal, and first from Baris, but it was late in the period and proved to be too little. The Turkish side was still playing at a high energy but France was solid in their attacks and their backlines so when the last buzzer sounded, the score was 5-2 for France.
Goals: 1-0: Soares, min. 9 (1); 2-0; Lauthe, min. 0 (1); 3-0: Volkan (o.g.), min. 6 (2); 3-1: Erkan, min. 3 (2); 4-1: Darracç, min. 1 (2); 5-1: Lauthe, min. 7 (3); 5-2: Baris, min. 3 (3).
Lebanon takes time to get rolling but they earn OT win
The 5-4 (aet) win for Lebanon over Tunisia seemed in doubt for the opening periods but the Cedars drove back and ended up pulling away from the Tunisians in the middle and final frames. Tunisia was aggressive and looked the part of the winner in the first minutes but they came back down to earth and the Lebanese took over. Lebanon did not stop the momentum they had built up and scored in each period while using tighter defense in the final two periods, until they allowed Tunisia to climb back and force OT, only to fall just short. The victory for Lebanon is their third of event, having only lost to Italy and barely missing out in the semis, but they will battle for fifth place on Sunday. Tunisia would have loved to ride that early momentum to victory but instead they will be playing for a very respectable 7th place on Sunday.
Tunisia began the match by asking more questions of the Lebanese keeper but Lebanon was prepared for the work and that helped to keep the score level at 0-0 going into the middle of the frame. The Tunisians were playing very fast and aggressive but that did not translate to goals, or open themselves up to defensive holes for that matter. The push first mentality created many opportunities and one finally turned into a goal for the Eagles of Carthage, which put the score at 1-0 late in the first period. That goal loosened up both offenses and defenses and the sides exchanged last minute goals, putting the score at 2-1 for Tunisia going into the first break. Lebanon began to run into form and they turned that early deficit into a one goal advantage after two rapid-fire goals in the opening minutes of the middle frame. The teams tried to shift the momentum and score with goals but they did not come and the period ended with the Cedars of Lebanon up 3-2.
A one goal lead is never safe and Tunisia was able to turn that into a more safe, but still too close to call, two goal lead on the third goal of the day for M. Merhi, putting t eh score at 4-2 for the Cedars early in the last period. Tunisia was far from done or cooked as the saying goes, and they showed their heart by not only scoring their third goal to get within one goal, but they scored the equalizer with less than one minute remaining, sending the match into overtime and tied at 4. The extra frame was just as tense as the first three but Ahmad, for Lebanon, scored in the final minute of play to give his team the energetic 5-4 (aet) win.
Goals: 0-1: Hamza, min. 3 (1); 0-2: Nader, min. 1 (1); 1-2: M. Merhi, min. 0 (1); 2-2: M. Elzein, min. 9 (2); 3-2: M. Merhi, min. 8 (2); 4-2: M. Merhi, min. 8 (3); 4-3: Nader, min. 4 (3); 4-4: Taieb, min. 0 (3); 5-4: Ahmad, min. 1 (et).
Italy too much for Morocco to handle
The 5-0 win for Italy over Morocco was not their biggest or prettiest win, but it was their most important in this event. Italy struck first and like in almost every modality of Italian soccer, they employed great defense and scored when they needed to. The Italians prepared hard for the Moroccan match because it was a semi-final and it was at home and they knew the abilities of Nassim from the Lions of the Atlas. The win keeps Italy undefeated in the Mediterranean Beach Games Pescara 2015 but the crown jewel is being able to play for Gold against Egyot on Sunday. Not all is lost for Morocco, and even though they would have loved to fight for the top-spot, they still have the chance to earn a medal on Sunday, in the Bronze Medal Match against Libya.
Italy and Morocco had to wait a few minutes to begin their match after a last second goal pushed the start time for the second semi-final back, but the wait was worth it as the quality of play was more than evident. The teams were very focused and wanted the chance to play for a gold medal. The defenses for the National Selections are normally tight, but the opening minutes of this match saw even more intensity, and understandably, but the Italians broke though with a bouncing bicycle from Gori, setting the score at 1-0 going into heart of the period. The goal scoring machine, Gori, added his second and the Italian captain Corosiniti also scored before the period ended, to give the Azzurri a 3-0 lead going into the first break. Gori always makes the spectacular look easy but it is almost ridiculous how many hat-tricks he can score and does, and this game was no different as he notched his third goal in the second period, helping to give his team the 4-0 lead. The lead an score would not change and the Italians remained in control going into the final break.
Italy may have slowed down their attacks, knowing they were not in immediate danger of a big comeback from the Moroccans but to be safe they cranked up their defensive efforts. The Azzurri were still picking their spots on offense and were able to find another goal, this one from Palmacci with just over half of the period left. The match headed into the final minutes with Italy commanding the 5-0 lead. The chances were there for Morocco and even Italy saw more and direct kicks and shots on goal but they were unable to cut into the lead or add to it in Italy’s case, so the score stood at 5-0 for Italy when the referee signaled the end of the match.
Goals: 1-0: Gori, min. 8 (1); 2-0: Gori, min. 5 (1); 3-0: Corosiniti, min. 2 (1); 4-0: Gori, min. 8 (2); 5-0: Palmacci, min. 6 (3).
Egypt comes back twice before securing spot in final in final seconds
The 6-5 win for Egypt over Libya was one of the best matches of the event as there was so much riding on it, there was energy from crowd, and the teams knew all of this. The game went swinging from one side to the other and it was the Egyptians who were playing from behind for most of the match but they came up big when they needed to and needed an amazing last second goal to shock Libya. The match was five seconds away from overtime but the Egyptians scored to send Libya reeling and the victory puts Egypt in the Gold Medal Match on Sunday. Libya will still have a chance to rebound and medal, as they will be playing in the Bronze Medal Match on Sunday.
Egypt and Libya were both not expected to be in the semi-finals but they had played superb in the group matches and they earned their spots here. The chance to medal in this Olympic family event was on the table regardless of a win or loss but the chance for gold excites anyone, so the play was very intense in the beginning. The Libyans were the first to ring the bell in the first minute but that acted as a calming factor with the most difficult goal out of the way. Egypt were not losing their confidence but they had yet to find a great shot on goal and the score remained 1-0 for the Mediterranean Knights going into the heart of the period. Libya would add one more goal before the frame ended, putting the score at 2-0 going into the first break. The Pharaohs began the second period like a different team, in part due to the first minute goal from Moustafa, which brought the Egyptians back to within one goal at 2-1. Hassane took it upon himself to bring his Egyptian side even but the prolific goal scorer for the Libyans, Targ, scored his first goal late in the period, which restored his teams’ one goal lead at 3-2. Libya would add another late period goal but so would the Egyptians and the score was just as tight as ever at 4-3 for Libya going into the final break.
The tension was beginning to boil over as the fans and players alike were looking for a definitive winner. Egypt again showed their heart and mettle as they had another goal-scorer, Ahmed, score his first to put the score at 4-4 heading into the middle of the frame. The two sides were relaxed but the minutes ticket away and they knew they needed more goals to secure a gold medal match appearance. Egypt was playing inspired beach soccer and it did not stop as Eslam gave his side their lead of the match and with the score sitting at 5-4, it was the Libyans who were on their heels. Egypt looked destined for the final until a last minute goal from Libya tied things at 5-5. That was just the beginning as Egypt waited until there were five seconds left to score the miraculous game winner, from Aly, which gave them the improbable 6-5 win.
Goals: 0-1: Sand, min. 11 (1); 0-2: Sand, min. 5 (1); 1-2: Moustafa, min. 11 (2); 2-2: Hassane, min. 7 (2); 2-3: Targ, min. 4 (2); 2-4: Moner, min. 2 (2); 3-4: Hassane, min. 1 (2); 4-4: Ahmed, min. 10 (3); 5-4: Eslam, min. 5 (3); 5-5: Targ, in. 0 (3); 6-5: Aly, min. 0 (3).
Greece rampages into 9th Place battle with win
The 9-1 victory for Greece over Algeria was much tougher than the final score indicates but the end result was a thing of beauty for the Greeks. Greece was able to score often and still use their shutdown defense to keep Algeria at bay, so to speak. The sides were very equal early, even exchanging goals but that is when Greece took it to another level on the offensive end. The win gives Greece two straight after losing their first two, and it puts them in the 9th Place Match on Sunday against Albania, which will be the last match in Pescara for both teams. The loss was tough for Algeria as they stayed close early but they will have another shot to win on Sunday against Malta, in the 11th Place battle.
Greece entered this match on a high-note and they were playing very confidently after narrowly defeating France on Friday. Algeria had yet to win a match but they were very competitive and were more than ready to get their first win against the Greeks. The Greeks had different plans and they showed that with a rare offensive aggression, which Karakasis capitalized on to give his side the 1-0 lead just before the midway point in the period. The score held at 1-0 going into the final minutes of the period as the Pirate Ship began employing their signature stifling defense. The excitement escalated and even more so after Zakarias leveled matters for Algeria. The 1-1 score would not hold going into the first break as the Greeks added a last second goal putting the score at 2-1 going into the first break. Greece used the second period to further place their offensive stamp on the game and they did just that by taking a 6-1 lead into the final break, in part thanks to two goals from Papastathopoulos.
The final frame began with more of the same Greek dominance as they were not letting up and wanted to leave no doubt as to how good and dangerous they were, specifically on offense. Algeria was not able to initially draw any more blood or get any close as the Greekds pushed the lead to seven goals at 8-1. Physical play controlled the middle frame but the third period, like the first, was more finesse and calm. Do not let the calmess fool you, it was a quiet aggression that helped to build the Greek lead and when the final buzzer sounded, the Pirate Ship was up by a score of 9-1.
Goals: 1-0: Karakasis, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Zakarias, min. 2 (1); 2-1: Bimpis, min. 0 (1); 3-1: Triantafyllidis, min. 5 (2); 4-1: Papastathopoulos, min. 2 (2); 5-1: Papastathopoulos, min. 1 (2); 6-1: Flengas, min. 0 (2); 7-1: Kafantaris, min. 9 (3); 8-1: Flengas, min. 8 (3); 9-1: Kafantaris, min. 2 (3).
Albania steady in picking apart Malta for win
The 5-2 victory for Albania over Malta was a clinic in tactical dominance. Albania was able to systematically march down the field very precisely and that gave them the opportunity to score on multiple occasions. Malta was not playing poor defense and it was in fact their defense and goalkeeping that kept the score as close as it was. Albania eventually were too overwhelming but the goals and saves were a spectacular display of beach soccer. The win gives Albania the shot to place 9th on Sunday. The loss was not easy to take for Malta as they tried desperately to get the win but they will another chance on Sunday in the 11th Place Match.
Albania began the match playing timid and aggressive but lucky for them, so did Malta. That theme did not continue for long as the sides really opened up their offenses and created many chances but the majority of the frame went by without a goal, but in the final minutes of the first period, Enea netted a shot for the Albanians that left Malta down 1-0. The teams swapped field position and exchanged direct kick but the score did not move going into the first break. Malta was tired of being pushed around and they took only seconds into the middle frame to score the equalizer but the 1-1 score did not hold for long with the Red and Blacks getting a goal from Endrit, so set the score at 2-1. The score would hold going into the final minutes of the period. Endrit made sure to give his team a safe cushion by scoring his second of the period, but not before Blendi added to the Albanian lead. When the middle frame came to an end it was Albania up by a score of 4-1.
Malta was down but only by three goals and that slim a margin is nothing for beach soccer, as goals are scored left and right. The Eagles were the ones, though, that scored first in the period and the fifth goal for them and first for Rigest put the score at 5-1. The Knights of Malta were not done however and the second goal from G. Frendo drew Malta back to within three goals at 5-2. The struggle to get past the Albanian defense was becoming more and more real, as the game headed into the final minutes with the Albanians still up 5-2. The final whistle came and went with Albania still up and earning the very impressive 5-2 win.
Goals: 1-0: Enea, min. 3 (1); 1-1: G. Frendo, min. 11 (2); 2-1: Endrit, min. 10 (2); 3-1: Blendi, min. 1 (2); 4-1: Endrit, min. 0 (2); 5-1: Rigest, min. 4 (3); 5-2: G. Frendo, min. 2 (3).
MEDITERRANEAN BEACH GAMES PESCARA 2015
14.30 – Albania 5-2 Malta (Consolation Playoff for 9th Place)
15.45 – Greece 9-1 Algeria (Consolation Playoff for )th Place)
17.15 – Egypt 6-5 Libya (Semi-final)
18.30 – Italy 5-0 Morocco (Semi-final)
19.45 – Lebanon 5-4 (aet) Tunisia (Consolation Semi-final)
21.15 – France 5-2 Turkey (Consolation Semi-final)
10.00 – Malta vs Algeria (Playoff for 11th Place)
11.15 – Albania vs Greece (Playoff for 9th Place)
12.30 – Tunisia vs Turkey (Playoff for 7th Place)
13.45 – Lebanon vs France (Playoff for 5th Place)
15.00 – Libya vs Morocco (Bronze Medal Match)
16.50 – Egypt vs Italy (Gold Medal Match)