Velasquez stars as Italy crash out
© Getty Images

El Salvador pulled off a tremendous upset, sending tournament hosts Italy crashing out at the quarter-final stage after a 6-5 victory in extra time at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Buoyed by a superb performance from Frank Velasquez, the Salvadorans, who, prior to this occasion had never progressed out of the group stage, stamped their place in the semi-finals.

Despite starting the tournament with a crushing 11-2 defeat by Portugal, the Central Americans bounced back in convincing fashion. Italy assumed control of the match, scoring first through Paolo Palmacci, but slowing their pace, soon saw El Salvador draw things level through Velasquez in the first period.

A lively second period began, and though Italy snatched the lead on three different occasions, the hosts were unable to keep the Salvadorans from hitting back. Franco Palma scored from a free-kick before Velasquez headed home his second. However, Palmacci was able to hit back just three seconds later, scoring with an overhead kick. Agustin Ruiz fired back from a free-kick, before Tomas Hernandez sealed a 4-3 lead for El Salvador at the second period’s end.

Italy quickly knotted things at four apiece, with Paolo Palmacci netting his third from the spot to bring the crowd to their feet at Stadio del Mare. But celebrations were short lived as Velasquez matched Palmacci’s tally to give El Salvador a 5-4 edge. Franco Palma missed a penalty, but Francesco Corosiniti ensured the Italians still had life as he bagged an equaliser at the end of normal time.

The Salvadorans sent Italy tumbling out, however, in extra time as Velasquez completed an outstanding performance with his fourth, dribbling past his defender to fire home and send El Salvador to the semi-finals.  While Italy are left licking their wounds, no longer fighting for the title on home soil, El Salvador are poised to take on Russia on 10 September in the semi-finals.