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27 Jun 2015
Russia and Italy to battle for Gold
Portugal and Switzerland will fight for Bronze while Spain and Ukraine to eye 5th with Hungary and Azerbaijan looking at 7th
Russia to fight for gold after late goal sends them through
The 2-1 win for Russia over Portugal came down to the final minutes, with nothing being decided until the Russians once again showed their clutch gene and came up with only the third goal of the match, the second of the day from Paporotnyi. The third period goal proved to be just enough for the win as the Russian goalkeeping and defense was as solid as ever in closing out the Portuguese side. The win gives Russia a shot at gold and they know they will at least earn silver in this monumental and inaugural Olympic event. Russia will have a chance at revenge against the only team to beat them in this tournament, Italy, on Sunday. Portugal will still have a shot a bronze medal, or nothing, when they face Switzerland on Sunday against Sunday.
Neither side wanted to fall victim to an early deficit, mistake, or general disadvantage, so both sides began the match very cautious. The caution did not mean a lack of excitement, in fact, the Portuguese were pushing very hard and nearly scored on quite a few chances, however the Russians have one of the worlds’ best defenses so they held strong for the opening period. The first 12 minutes ended just as they had started, tied at 0. The caution went out the window early in the second period when Paporotnyi opened up the scoring with an early goal in the middle frame. Jose Maria made sure that his team did not fall any further behind as he netted his teams’ first goal shortly after, leaving the score at 1-1 going into the deciding and final period.
The Russians have always been a very opportunistic side, or at least one making their own luck and the third period showed just that. The Portugal Selection did not have the ball bounce their way most of the match and a late direct kick was awarded to the Russians who made sure to slot it home, restoring the slim one goal margin at 2-1. That was just the beginning of the drama as Portugal began to press and press, knowing their gold medal hopes hung in the balance, and they came as close as you can get without actually scoring when they struck the goal post with under a minute left. The final whistle could not come quick enough for Russia who held on for the 2-1 win.
Goals: 0-1: Paporotnyi, min. 10 (2); 1-1: Jose Maria, min. 6 (2); 1-2: Poporotnyi, min. 1 (3).
Italy rides high and into Final
The 7-4 win for Italy over Switzerland was an example of how beach soccer should be played: with heart, intensity, defense, offense, and a little luck. The Italians went ahead first but the Swiss were just as stalwart in their efforts and they got level with the Azzurri, but it was the Italian squad who pulled away for the medal guaranteeing win. The victory means that now the Italians will earn at least a silver medal in the first ever European Games. Italy will play in the final beach soccer match of the week, Sunday, in the gold medal match. Switzerland will have to dig deep if they hope to rebound and win at least bronze in their 3rd Place Match on Sunday, in the penultimate match of the Games.
The intensity of such a match could be felt from the top of the sold-out stadium to the benches as an Olympic medal was on the line. Both sides knew that a loss would not eliminate them from a medal but they did not want to take their chances in the 3rd Place Match on Saturday. The Azzurri started quicker and scored two quick goals, taking the 2-0 lead and they were well in control, but in the final minute of the opening frame, Borer brought his side back to within one goal at 2-1, which is how the opening 12 minutes would end. The second period began with even more energy as the Italians struck the goal post twice in the first minute but it was Stankovic who scored the Swiss’ equalizer, leaving the score at 2-2. The tie score quickly turned into a big advantage for Italy as Switzerland had an own goal and the Italians began piling on, scoring almost at will, taking a 6-2 lead into the final period.
The Swiss can never be considered out of a match, no matter the score, as they have so many good scorers all across the sand that they can score often and in bunches. The final frame began with evidence of that when Stankovic scored his second of the day, pulling his side back to within three goals at 6-3. The big four goal deficit was too much and when Gori scored his second of the day, Italy was well on their way to the 7-4 triumph.
Goals: 1-0: Marinai, min. 9 (1); 2-0: Ramacciotti, min. 7 (1); 2-1: Borer, min. 1 (1); 2-2: Stankovic, min. 8 (2); 3-2: Jaeggy (og), min. 8 (2); 4-2: Gori, min. 3 (2); 5-2: Marinai, min. 3 (2); 6-2: Zurlo, min. 1 (2); 6-3: Stankovic, min. 11 (3); 7-3: Gori, min. 4 (3); 7-4: Stankovic, min. 1 (3).
Spain bounces back to fight for 5th Place
The 3-1 win for Spain over Azerbaijan was a much smash mouth and defensive slugfest than you would expect from some great offenses. The hosts were the first ones asking questions, leaving the Spanish reeling but the goals were not as easy to come by and the opening frame came to an end without a score but the Spaniards calmly kept with their game plan and eventually built a more than safe enough lead, three goals, to hold on for the win. The win was the third in four matches for Spain and they will take on Ukraine in the 5th place match on Sunday. Azerbaijan is still searching for their first event win, but the fans have been delighted by their effort in each game, and they will have one last shot at redemption on Sunday against Hungary in the 7th Place Match.
In an effort to make this their first win of the tournament, Azerbaijan started the match on a tear, looking for goals and eying attacks, but the Spanish defense held strong. The Azeri found many chances in front of the net but they were not able to get that elusive first goal and the frame ended with the score tied at 0-0. The second 12 minutes began how Spain pictured the game itself beginning, with a quick goal and the lead. Llorenç added to his goal tally and scored in the opening minutes of the frame to give his side the 1-0 advantage. The evidence was slow but steady as La Furia Roja began to take control, little by little. The only ceded goal in the period was due to an offensive turnover in the penalty area for the Azerbaijani and that is never a recipe for success when playing Llorenç and Spain. The Spanish squad finished the second period up by a score of 1-0.
The opening minute of the final 12 minutes began just as exciting as the second period did, including a goal from Mayor that put the Spaniards up 2-0, and left them in near complete control. The Spanish domination did not stop there as Ardil scored his first of the match, putting the score at 3-0 before the halfway point in the frame. Spain stayed the course and were able to finish the match while still up, however Allahguliyev got his side on the board in the final minutes, to put the final score at 3-1 for Spain.
Goals: 1-0: Llorenç, min. 8 (2); 2-0: Mayor, min. 11 (3); 3-0: Ardil, min. 7 (3); 3-1: Allahguliyev, min. 1 (3).
Ukraine waits until late to make move for win
The 4-2 win for Ukraine over Hungary was a match that both sides could have won. For Hungary, had the match finished at the midway point, they were in control, had the lead and were ready to head to the next match, but the second half of the game was a different story as Ukraine came alive. Ukraine scored the equalizer and then another two goals, making that four straight goals without a Hungarian response. The win puts Ukraine in the 5th place match, set to take place on Sunday, as the second match of the day. Hungary was always in every match they played, but they were unable to muster enough offense to dig themselves out of the holes they found themselves in. The loss means that Hungary will play for 7th place on Sunday, at 11.30.
Hungary had some spectacular matches earlier in the event and they knew they needed to begin this match with the same kind of pace. That determination did lead to two quick goals for the Hungarians and they looked to be in complete control, with the help of a splendid defense, which was all but shutting down Ukraine. The Blue and Yellow were able to get back into the match when they gained a little momentum on a shot from Illichov just before the first period ended. Despite only the 2-1 advantage for the Golden Team, they were in complete control as Ukraine could not mount many decisive chances. The game slowly began to shift with the Ukrainians finding their stride and scoring the equalizer near the middle point of the match, leaving the score at 2-2 going into the final frame.
The final period was a continuation of the end of the second period, and it included two more Ukrainian goals, one early and one late, to push the lead to two goals. The first goal of the frame gave Ukraine their first lead of the match and their third straight goal. Hungary was still attacking but that magic touch they had in the opening frame was not there and not working as they were unable to score again after their first period goals. Ukraine continued to clamp down on defense and they finished the match up by the score of 4-2.
Goals: 0-1: Ughy, min. 11 (1); 0-2: Berkes, min. 2 (1); 1-2: Illichov, min. 1 (1); 2-2: Borsuk, min. 5 (2); 3-2: Iliichov, min. 9 (3); 4-2: Borsuk, min. 1 (3).
EUROPEAN GAMES BAKU 2015
16:00 – Ukraine 4-2 Hungary (Consolation Semi-final)
17:30 – Spain 3-1 Azerbaijan (Consolation Semi-final)
19:00 – Italy 7-4 Switzerland (Semi-final)
20:30 – Portugal 1-2 Russia (Semi-final)
11:30 – Hungary vs Azerbaijan (7th Place Match)
13:00 – Ukraine vs Spain (5th Place Match)
14:30 – Switzerland vs Portugal (3rd Place Match)
16:00 – Italy vs Russia (Final)