THE DAY REPLAYED – Day three of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011 proved particularly positive for the European nations involved, while El Salvador recorded a historic victory.
For a long time it looked as though the first game of the day would produce nothing other than a comprehensive victory for Switzerland against Iran. Leading 5-1 after the first period, the Eidgenossen let their Asian opponents back into the game, but ultimately held out for a deserved 6-4 win, ending Iran's hopes of a place in the quarter-finals in the process.
Portugal once again demonstrated why they are considered among the hot favourites for the title with a 5-0 win over Argentina. Led by the superb Madjer, who netted four times, the Portuguese put in a glittering attacking display, while goalkeeper Paulo Graca made some breathtaking saves to ensure a clean sheet at the other end. Those three points meant Portugal became the first team to secure their place in the last eight.
By far the most dramatic game of the day was contested between Italy and Senegal. Both sides managed to swing the tie in their favour at various stages, but in the end the two teams could not be separated in a 4-4 draw. That meant penalties, and Italian goalkeeper Stefano Spada turned hero as he saved Ndiaga Mbaye's strike to give the Azzurri victory. The tournament hosts now face a three-way battle with their African counterparts and Switzerland for a place in the quarter-finals.
Also celebrating were El Salvador, who claimed their first-ever victory in eight FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup matches with a 4-3 success over Oman. It was just reward for the travelling Central American fans, who got behind their team throughout and were eventually sent into raptures by Agustin Ruiz's last-minute winner.
Iran 4-6 Switzerland
Portugal 5-0 Argentina
Senegal 4-4 (aet) Italy, 2-3 on penalties
Oman 3-4 El Salvador
Goal of the day
Portugal – Argentina, Belchior 22'
Madjer was undoubtedly the star performer as Portugal romped to victory over Argentina, but the game's most spectacular strike came from his colleague Belchior. Following a long throw forward from the goalkeeper, the Portguese No10 teed himself up before sending a rasping volley beyond Argentinian keeper Cesar Mendoza and into the far corner.
Still involved from the stands
Following his sending-off in the first group stage, Iranian goalkeeper Hamed Ghorbanpour was confined to the stands for his team's clash with Switzerland, but that didn't stop the 26-year-old from cheering on his colleagues from the crowd. The custodian provided vociferous support and clearly shared his team-mates' pain as the Iranians eventually lost out, despite a courageous fightback against the Swiss.
It's better to fly…
It is a well-known fact that Portugal boast some of the most technically-gifted players in the world of Beach Soccer, as Madjer and Belchior once again proved in their victory over Argentina. The duo each netted scissor-kicks and attempted numerous other impressive volleyed variations to the appreciative applause of the watching crowd.
The final minute of Italy's clash with Senegal will live long in the memory for all those who were lucky enough to witness it. Pape Koukpaki had twice put the Africans in front, but Paolo Palmacci responded on each occasion to level for the hosts. The enthralling duel between the two front-men culminated in four goals within 13 seconds and a rollercoaster of emotions inside the Stadio del Mare.
Premature celebrations, or not?
El Salvador's Tomas Hernandez had already begun to reel away in celebration as his shot trickled towards goal, only to look back in disbelief as the ball bobbled off the sand and against the post. Fortunately for Hernandez, he was celebrating for real as he finally slammed home a fantastic chance off a corner-kick.
2 – Portugal kept a clean sheet for the second time in their history at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, making them one of just three teams, along with Argentina and Russia, to achieve the feat.
Sunday, 4 September 2011
Ukraine - Japan
Venezuela - Nigeria
Mexico - Brazil
Russia - Tahiti
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