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06 Nov 2019
Spain, Russia and Iran make the semi-finals in Dubai
Three of the four semi-final spots have been filled on day two as UAE hand Italy second defeat in two days
The 2019 Intercontinental Cup semi-finals will be fought between Spain, Russia and Iran, as well as one final team which will be decided on Thursday.
The hosts made sure that they were still in the conversation for the next round in Thursday’s matches with an extra time win over Italy, while Russia edged a low-scoring match to dump Mexico out of the running for the 2019 title.
Spain went top of their group with an even tighter win over Japan, while an Akbari masterclass helped Iran seal the third place in the final four.
UAE 6-4 Italy (Group A) *AET
Italy had been shaken by their shock defeat to Japan yesterday, while UAE had looked confident against La Roja. But with neither having scored any points, both were in real need of a win.
The Emirati players possibly smelt blood after witness Japan put six past the Azzurri in Tuesday’s match, and pressed throughout the opening section of play and eventually broke the deadlock when Ahmed Beshr and the captain Walid powered two past Del Mestre in the space of one minute.
The Italians found themselves on the backfoot as the second period started, and things got worse for them as Kamal blasted in number three. In the end, it was luck that gifted Italy their opener as Ramacciotti’s weak shot bounced on the sand to loop over the committed keeper.
Giordani put away a freekick and it looked as if the Italians had turned the momentum around, but Ali converted to restore the two-goal cushion going into the final period.
The minutes ticked by and just when it seemed that hope was lost for the 2018 European champions, Percia Montani blasted in two sublime strikes within seconds of each other to make it 4-4!
But yet again, the locals didn’t lose faith and both Ahmed Beshr and Ali Mohammad netted a second goal each to inflict a second 6-4 loss on Italy in as many days.
Del Duca’s men are now out of the running for the Intercontinental Cup with hopes are still alive for Mohamed Al Mazmi’s men!
Goals: 1-0: Ahmed B., min. 1 (1); 2-0: Walid, min. 0 (1); 3-0: Kamal, min. 10 (2); 3-1: Ramacciotti, min. 7 (2); 3-2: Giordani, min. 6 (2); 4-2: Ali, min. 2 (2); 4-3: Percia, min. 2 (3); 4-4: Percia, min. 2 (3); 5-4: Ahmed B., min. 1 (ET); 6-4: Ali, min. 0 (ET);
Japan 2-3 Spain (Group A)
The first day of the Intercontinental Cup saw Japan down Italy to many people’s surprise, and it was Ruy Ramos’ men who struck first against another European powerhouse on day two.
Matsuda rifled in an overhead from close-range midway through the opening period but Chiky burst down the left flank to slot a low effort home, leveling up just before the break.
After dropping two points by being forced to the penalty spot on Tuesday, Spain really needed a win today. However, the score remained untouched in the second period as shots bounced off posts and gloves at both ends.
The game went into the final period with the sides still tensely tied but a cool Javi Torres finish finally broke the deadlock. Minutes late David Ardil joined his brother Salvador (Chiky) on the scoresheet, volleying in from inside the box to make it three.
A late surge from Japan saw Oba bag his third of the tournament, but it was nothing more than a consolation as Spain held on to their slim lead to go above Japan with four points.
Goals: 1-0: Matsuda, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Chiky, min. 1 (1); 1-2: Javi Torres, min. 10 (3); 1-3: David Ardil, min. 6 (3); 2-3: Oba, min. 0 (3);
Russia 3-1 Mexico (Group B)
Russia have never not made the semi-finals in the Intercontinental Cup, and a win against Mexico on matchday two would see Likhachev’s side claim a spot with a game still to play.
Zharikov gave them a thin advantage towards the end of the first period as he slammed in a freekick, but the lead was far from comfortable.
Boris Nikonorov managed to double it with a header at the near post as the match approached its midway point, but Martinez controlled a cross on his chest and set himself up for a stunning volley, giving the keeper no chance.
In the final period the two-goal cushion was restore when Kryshanov scored the goals of the game - possibly even tournament – when he found the top corner with an arrowed shot from his own half.
As the final whistle eventually went Russia claimed the three points to confirm their place in the semi-finals for the ninth year running. It had been a real struggle against the resistant Mexicans, who are now out of the Intercontinental Cup.
Goals: 1-0: Zharikov, min. 4 (1); 2-0: Nikonorov, min. 5 (2); 2-1: Martinez, min. 4 (2); 3-1: Kryshanov, min. 6 (3);
Iran 5-3 Egypt (Group B)
Samir gave the Egyptians an early lead to put them on the right track towards keeping themselves in the competition, but with a minute of the first period to play, Kiani slammed in the equalizer.
The Pharaohs weren’t finished though, as they fought back to take the lead back, this time through Abdoo. Soon after Akbari then slid unmarked into the penalty box to nod home a corner and bring the score back to 2-2.
The 2018 winners took the lead for the first time in the match when Masoumi hit a sweet strike with the outside of his foot to find the top corner.
With only a thin margin between the teams going into the final third, the Persians did their best to control the pace of the game as Mousaf Loutfy’s side looked for an equaliser which was eventually powered in by Sasa from a distance freekick.
An even more spectacular strike saw Akbari volley into the top corner straight from kick off. The big defender then hit his fifth of the event, side-footing the ball cutely past Fawzy from a corner.
At 5-3, Egypt were unable to find a second wind and Iran confirmed their place in the next round of the event thanks to Akbari’s late heroics. Egypt join Italy and Mexico in exiting the competition on day two.
Goals: 0-1: Samir, min. 8 (1); 1-1: Kiani, min. 1 (1); 1-2: Abdoo, min. 4 (2); 2-2: Akbari, min. 4 (2); 3-2: Masoumi, min. 2 (2); 3-3: M. Sasa, min. 9 (3); 4-3: Akbari, min. 9 (3); 5-3: Akbari, min. 3 (3);
For more information, including fixtures, results and standings, go to the Beach Soccer Worldwide website.