The second round of matches for Groups C and D produced a quartet of tough and hard-fought encounters, with none of the eight yet securing passage to the knockout stage. Unusually, rain arrived in Papeete which dampened the sand in time to greet Brazil and Ukraine players for the final match of the evening. The four-time world champions needed two goals in the final period to prevail against the well-organised Europeans. A Seleção have a solid hold at the top of Group C, but Iran drew equal second alongside Senegal in a highly entertaining contest.
World champions Russia are comfortably on top of Group D, but they had a tougher time than expected in seeing off a brave Côte d'Ivoire. Earlier, Japan ended a lengthy losing streak in some style by defeating Paraguay to give their quarter-final ambitions massive impetus.
Creature of habits
Superstition and footballers seem to go hand in hand. Russia goalkeeper Andrey Bukhlitskiy, however, takes things to a whole new level. His routine in the final minutes before entering the field, involves a complicated back-rub of sorts from coach Mikhail Likhachev, a ritual wiping of the gloves on his face, and all capped by a kissing and gentle head-butt of each post.
Japan proving popular.
Japan ended a five-match losing streak at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup with their impressive and deserved win over Paraguay. And it seems they are somewhat unlikely darlings of the Papeete crowd. They have received a rousing reception after the conclusion to both their matches and responded in kind with a lap of appreciation.
A long-range strike has seen Ukraine’s Volodymyr Hladchenko join fellow goalkeeper Vitalii Sydorenko on the scoresheet. Hladchenko’s goal against Brazil means the two Ukrainians have become the first goalkeeping duo to score in the same FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
While Japan are warmly received it was Côte d'Ivoire that received the biggest support of the night from an appreciative Papeete crowd on matchday 3. Hamstrung by the absence of several missing players due to visa issues, the French-speaking African nation turned in a brave performance against world champions Russia, keeping the contest alive until the dying minutes in their 5-2 defeat.
1600 – Brazil pivot Bruno, the only player to feature in all seven editions of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, notched the 1600th tournament goal with his strike against Ukraine. Incidentally, Bruno's appearance in the match meant that he is one game shy of fellow countryman Benjamin's record of playing in 34 matches at FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups.
“For me it is not a serious loss, sometimes you win and sometimes to lose, it’s football. We played a good game but we were out of luck. Whether it is Brazil or another team, we will come to qualify.”Senegal striker Pape Koukpaki
Next up (local time)
United Arab Emirates-Spain (16:00)
Solomon Islands-Argentina (17:30)
El Salvador-Netherlands (20:30)