Spain see off Thais after shaky start
Despite an anxious start against an improved Thai side, the Furia successfully negotiated their first outing in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005. Amarelle and co. can now look forward to facing Brazil on Tuesday, safe in the knowledge they have already qualified for the quarter-finals.
"Tonight we were beaten by the second best team in the world after being neck-and-neck with them for a long time," said Thai coach Marcelo Silveira Mendes afterwards. "I'm happy with the performance of my players, even if I think we had chances to win it. We paid dearly for one or two little mistakes."
Spain may have been the very last team to secure a berth in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, but right from kick-off they showed why they are unquestionably one of the favourites for the title. Well-organised to a fault, they denied Thailand any time on the ball.
But to the surprise of everyone gathered in the stadium, the most dangerous chances in the first period fell to their plucky opponents. Robert needed to be alert to stop an excellent free-kick and then had a post to thank as Thailand came closest to scoring in the opening 12 minutes.
The response from the Spanish was typically brilliant. Collecting the ball in front of goal, Amarelle flicked it up and unleashed one of his trademark acrobatic volleys to fire his team in front (1-0). With that, Spain looked to be well on their way.
The real fireworks were reserved for the final period, though. From a free-kick which produced the first blue card of the tournament, Amarelle saw his right-foot shot parried by the goalkeeper before meeting the rebound with his left to send a magnificent lob high into the Thai net (2-0). Less than a minute later, Thailand were back in the match when Y. Polasak dived in to convert a cross (2-1). Any ideas they might have had about a comeback were soon extinguished however, as David struck twice to seal an important win (4-1).
Victory guarantees the Iberians a place in the last eight, and the only question remaining now is who will top Group A. That will be resolved in what promises to be a thrilling game between Spain and the Auriverde on Tuesday.
For now though, Spanish coach Joaquín Alonso would rather reflect on a good day's work: "That was hard! Thailand were well organised and caused us a lot of problems. We suffered, but the important thing is that we qualified. Tomorrow is another day…and another match."
Referees: Pedro Infante (VEN), Pinto Correa (POR), Stefan Fassler (SWI).