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26 Jun 2015
Masterful comebacks determine final group day
The knock-out stage is set with Italy and Switzerland set to do battle while Portugal will take on Russia
Portugal finishes stage undefeated after their 3rd comeback
The 6-4 win for Portugal over Azerbaijan was yet another stunning comeback from the Portuguese side, as it was their third in three tries. Azerbaijan came out firing like they were on a divine mission, however, Portugal slowly regained their footing and goal by goal they were able to crawl back into matters before sealing the Azeri fate late in the period. The Portuguese had already clinched a ticket to the next round and the Azerbaijani were mathematically eliminated but it made for one of the most powerful matches all week. The win left Portugal as the Group winner and undefeated in group play; they will play Russia on Saturday in the semi-finals. Azerbaijan will face Spain in the consolation semi-finals on Saturday.
The hosts were able to catch Portugal by surprise and it looked as though the visitors were content taking the shellacking. That could not be further from the truth, as for the second straight day the Land of Fire had awoken their offensive attack after an off opening day, and the Portuguese needed to weather the storm before they climbed back from 3-0 to 3-4. The script was not completely flipped as the hosts tied it again before a solid offensive and defensive performance gave Portugal all the momentum they needed to conquer Azerbaijan by a final score of 6-4.
Goals: 1-0: Zeynalov, min. 9 (1); 0-2: Allahguliyev, min. 8 (1); 0-3: Zeynalov, min. 4 (1); 1-3: Torres, min. 10 (2); 2-3: Madjer, min. 1 (2); 3-3: Madjer, min. 8 (3); 3-4: Jose Maria, min. 7 (3); 4-4: Aliyev, min. 3 (3); 4-5: Jose Maria, min. 1 (3); 4-6: Madjer, min. 0 (3).
Russia commands 3rd to head to semi-finals
The 5-3 win for Russia over Spain was a clash of two world powerhouses and it was a shame that it had to end with one team losing. Spain jumped out first and it looked like Russia was on the road to losing an unprecedented second straight match after their defeat at the hands of the Italians. Spain won twp of their three matches but they will not be competing for a medal, but they will be playing in the consolation semi-finals on Saturday. Russia came up big when it mattered most and they will now be fighting in the semi-finals on Saturday, still with the hopes of Gold, Silver, or Bronze.
The first period began like almost no other match and you knew instantly that the game was going to be an instant classic. Spain jumped on top first, with two quick goals. But it was the Russian side that had an answer, more than one in fact. The Big Red Beach Machine took the lead late in the first period on a strike from Shaykov. The period included two goals from the talismanic goal scorer Llorenç, though one was an own-goal. The second period was a struggle for goals for La Furia Roja but Llorenç nailed home another goal, leveling the score at 3-3, which is how the period would end. The tie at the end of the frame would prove to be even more important as the winner of the period and the match would advance to the semis and the loser would not.
Both sides did not want to leave anything to chance in the final frame but that is exactly what it came down to. Well more than chance but everything was still up in the air. There were only two goals scored in the frame and they came at the worst possible time for Spain and best time for Russia. The first goal put the Russians up 4-3 and it proved to be enough for the win. Shishin’s goal came on a direct kick, while the last goal came on a counterattack from Paporotnyi in the final minutes of action, which sealed the fate of the Spaniards, 5-3.
Goals: 0-1: Llorenç, min. 11 (1); 0-2: Mayor, min. 4 (1); 1-2: Krash, min. 2 (1); 2-2: Llorenç, min. 2 (og)(1); 3-2: Shaykov, min. 2 (1); 3-3: Llorenç, min. 5 (2); 4-3: Shishin, min. 3 (3); 5-3: Paportonyi, min. 1 (3).
Switzerland completes turnaround to earn spot in semis
The 5-4 win for Switzerland over Ukraine a game that Ukraine could have and should have won but the fast start for the Ukrainians did not create enough space between the high-scoring Swiss and themselves. Switzerland needed a win, just like Ukraine, to advance to the semi-finals, but it was the clutch nature of the Swiss that gave them the late push they needed to win. The victory gives Switzerland a spot in the semi-finals along with the Portuguese from Group 1. Ukraine will still be doing battle on Saturday in the Consolation Semi-finals.
Ukraine jumped out in front first, on a defensive mistake from the Swiss and that goal shocked the Switzerland side, but the jolt did not lead to any goals for La Nati. The early goal actually led to more goals for the Blue and Yellows as they added another two first period goals, one early, and one in the final minute, all to go along with a shutout. The harder the Swiss tried, the further ahead the Ukrainians got and the period ended with Ukraine up 3-0, thanks to strikes from Borsuk, Budzko, and Zborovskyi.
Switzerland knew exactly how to turn on the afterburners and they did just that in the final frame. Ukraine held a comfortable lead but were unable to hold onto it as the Swiss ran amuck with late middle frame goals from Lutz and Stankovic, and then coupled with third period goals from Ott, Jaeggy and Borer, they were able to secure the much needed 5-4 win and thusly giving them a spot in the semi-finals.
Goals: 0-1: Borsuk, min. 11 (1); 0-2: Budzko, min. 10 (1); 0-3: Zborovskyi, min. 0 (1); 0-4: Borsuk, min. 9 (2); 1-4: Lutz, min. 3 (2); 2-4: Stankovic, min. 0 (2); 3-4: Ott, min. 10 (3); 4-4: Jaeggy, min. 9 (3); 5-4: Borer, min. 6 (3).
Italy clinches spot in semi-final with close win
The 5-4 win for Italy over Hungary was a match that delighted everyone in attendance and that no one deserved to lose. Italy got things going first, but it was Hungary who battled back and took a lead that against many teams would have stood, but against the Italians, who know how to finish and apply tight defense, one and two goal leads are not safe. Italy was able to score the final two goals to turn a one goal deficit into a one goal win. The win gives the Italians six points, two straight wins and a spot in the next round, the semi-finals. The Hungarians were hard done to lose all of their group stage matches but they will have a chance to get their first win on Saturday in the consolation semi-finals.
Italy began the tournament slow, but rebounded superbly when they upset Russia and they knew that they needed a win against a pesky Hungary side, who still had their own dreams of the semi-finals. The first period began very evenly matched, except that Italy scored on their first attempt. The scoring chances were limited but Fekete scored an amazing bicycle in the final minute of the period to level the score at 1 going into the middle frame. The Hungarians sped up the pace of the match and they capitalized to take a large two goal lead, at 3-1. Italy found it difficult to score in the early going but the lack of scoring did not continue for the Azzurri and late in the frame they found their second and third goals, to draw even at 3-3 going into the final frame.
The final period ultimately went in the favour of the Azzurri but it was a period that had both teams score and it echoed how the entire game was played, there was defense, offense, lead changes, ties, and a heart-stopping finish. Italy had the clutch nature to secure the last goals and earn the tough 5-4 win.
Goals: 1-0: Gori, min. 11 (1); 1-1: Fekete, min. 0 (1); 1-2: Sebestyen, min. 7 (2); 1-3: Fekete, min. 6 (2); 2-3: Corosiniti, min. 3 (2); 3-3: Marrucci, min. 2 (2); 3-4: Sebestyen, min. 7 (3); 4-4: Zurlo, min. 4 (3); 5-4: Gori, min. 2 (3).
EUROPEAN GAMES BAKU 2015
16:00 – Italy 5-4 Hungary (Group B)
17:30 – Switzerland 5-4 Ukraine (Group A)
19:00 – Russia 5-3 Spain (Group B)
20:30 – Azerbaijan 4-6 Portugal (Group A)
16:00 – Ukraine vs Hungary (Consolation Semi-final)
17:30 – Spain vs Azerbaijan (Consolation Semi-final)
19:00 – Italy vs Switzerland (Semi-final)
20:30 – Portugal vs Russia (Semi-final)