Russia recovered a two-goal deficit to edge Iran 6-5 and book a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup semi-final date with hosts Tahiti. Dmitrii Shishin, the star of a stunning upset of Brazil in the Ravenna 2011 decider, settled an engrossing game in the defending champions’ favour with just 124 seconds remaining.
Russia were the heavy favourites before kick-off, but they were given a gruelling examination in Papeete. Moslem Mesigar and Farid Boulokbashi fired Iran into a 2-0 lead and although Egor Eremeev swiftly pulled one back, the Asians’ stellar marking and physical approach largely stifled Mikhail Likhachev’s game plan for long periods.
Yury Krasheninnikov did equalise midway through the second period, before Anatoliy Peremitin capitalised on a seldom defensive error to put Russia ahead for the first time. That advantage lasted just 12 seconds as Boulokbashi thumped home his second to ensure the teams began the concluding third at deadlock.
Mesigar completed his brace shortly after the restart to restore Iran’s lead, but Russia began to exact their superiority thereafter. Goals from Kirill Romanov and Eremeev sent the Europeans 5-4 ahead, only for Mohammad Ahmadzadeh to level the scores, against the run of play, on 32 minutes.
Likhachev urged his charges to find a winner and cometh the hour, cometh the man. That man was the ever-reliable Shishin, who netted the game's 11th and last goal to keep the Russian dream alive and move himself joint-top of the tournament's scoring chart.
Russia and Tahiti, who stunned Argentina 6-1 in their quarter-final, will now have a one-day rest before meeting on Saturday for a place in the final.