Argentina were pushed all the way before finally being able to savour victory in their opening FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 match. Up against an Australian side that belied their inexperience in the discipline, the Albiceleste booked themselves a ticket for the last eight, but will have to raise their game if they hope to progress any further.
Australia's coach Adrian Santrac could barely hide his joy after the encounter. "My boys were really quick to learn their lessons from the France match," he said. "Our biggest problem tonight was getting into the flow of the game. Argentina played in sudden bursts and my players aren't used to that kind of situation yet. On the whole, though, I'm very happy with our performance."
The Argentinian side made their entrance onto the pitch holding a large banner that read 'Vamos Ile, Ganamos junto' ('Come on Ile, let's win together'). Ile Acosta, sister of the Argentine striker, was recently paralysed in an accident.
Before the match kicked off, the expectation was that the South American side would outclass a team still developing in the discipline. That proved to be a little unfair on Australia, however, and from the early stages they showed themselves to be fast learners. Always in good positions, they prevented Argentina from causing new father Andrew Crews too many problems between the posts.
It took the Albiceleste until the end of the first period to finally make their superiority count, and the honour of opening the scoring fell to Federico Hilaire (1-0). Acosta then doubled their advantage after the beak when he met Andrade's cross with an exquisite header (2-0), but Australia refused to let their heads drop and set about implementing their experienced coach's instructions.
Their efforts were eventually rewarded in the third and last period, as Buonavoglia rounded off a clever move from a corner to pull his side right back into contention (2-1). And it took a shot that deflected wickedly off the sand from F. Hilaire to give the score-line a more convincing sheen (3-1). The result will matter most to the Argentinians, of course, but their lacklustre display will have certainly raised concerns.
"Like with the first match of any tournament, we had to cope with the stress and I think we did that well," insisted their coach Carlos Eduardo Juárez, without any great enthusiasm.
Referees: Alberto Magno (BRA), Evaldo Wellington (BRA), Mohamed Saeed (UAE)