THE DAY REPLAYED – Brazil and Russia followed Portugal into the last eight of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011 on Sunday, both scoring five in in their respective matches against Mexico and Tahiti. The two berths still to be claimed in Groups C and D will be decided on the final matchday, with Ukraine taking on Mexico and the Tahitians fighting it out with Nigeria in two winner-takes-all duels.

In the final game on the day, the Oceania champions held the Russians at bay for 17 minutes, creating several chances before finally collapsing to a 5-0 defeat. While the eastern Europeans are clear at the top of Group C on six points, Tahiti are tied on three with Nigeria, who condemned Venezuela to an early exit with a 5-3 defeat.

The situation is virtually the same in Group D, with Brazil safely through after brushing aside Mexico 5-2, a result that left the Mexicans level on three points with their final-day opponents Ukraine, who sent Japan crashing out of the tournament with a 4-2 victory.  “To be honest, I had a fair idea things would work out this way,” said Mexico coach Ramon Raya. “It’s almost as if the knockout rounds have come a couple of days early.”

Ukraine 4-2 Japan
Venezuela 3-5 Nigeria
Mexico 2-5 Brazil
Russia 5-0 Tahiti

Goal of the day
Jorginho, 23:16, Mexico-Brazil
Bicycle-kicks are a common sight in beach soccer, though few are as spectacular as Jorginho’s improbable netbuster. Finding himself out wide on the right and with his back to goal, the 36-year-old flicked the ball up in the air and executed a perfect overhead-kick, arcing it over Miguel Estrada’s head and into the back of the net.

Memorable moments
Let’s hear it for Ukraine
The fans at Ravenna/Italy 2011 have provided plenty of spectacle, and Sunday was no exception, with a pair of Ukrainian faithfuls decked out in traditional national costume, orchestrating their supporters with the aid of a megaphone.

Karaoke time
Not to be outdone, the Nigerian contingent recalled the festive atmosphere of South Africa 2010 by singing and dancing along to Shakira’s Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) as it blared out over the PA system.

From villain to hero
Nigeria’s Victor Tale was in the thick of the action during his side’s tussle with Venezuela, with negative and then positive results for the Beach Eagles. It was his sliced clearance that bounced off Nelson Nwosu’s face to give the South Americans one of the strangest goals of the tournament so far. Atoning for his error, Tale then scored twice to carry his side to victory, celebrating his strikes with a series of somersaults worthy of an Olympic gymnast.

Doing it for Giovanna
In an interview with just before the tournament began, Brazil’s Jorginho spoke of his delight that his seven-year-old daughter Giovanna would finally be able to see him in action at a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. The No6 paid tribute to his girl with a stunning bicycle-kick, a piece of skill he commemorated by kissing a tattoo on his forearm that bears her name.

The stat
- The number of seconds that had elapsed when Ukraine’s Roman Panchev put his side ahead with a cross-shot against Japan. It was the joint-fastest goal in the history of the competition, equalling Buru’s quick-fire strike against Bahrain at Dubai 2009 and Madjer’s opener for Portugal against Solomon Islands at the same tournament.

Next up
Monday, 5 September 2011
El Salvador-Argentina

Have your say
Who will triumph in the decisive games still left to play in Groups C and D between Tahiti and Nigeria, and Ukraine and Mexico?