Uruguay prevail in nine goal thriller
After an enthralling first round decider in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005, Uruguay top Group C after beating Ukraine 5-4. With the daunting prospect of Portugal waiting for the losers, this game was one both sides were desperate to win. But it was the Uruguayans who finally came out on top - German's late winner bringing an end to an fascinating match.
"We've got a stable team, a consistent team," said a relieved Uruguay coach Gustavo Sanchez after the game. "Our goal was to reach the quarter-final, we've done that, now we'll set ourselves new targets. I believe we could beat Portugal, but I'm pleased we won't have to prove it just yet."
Uruguay began the first period with Diego, Seba, Jorge, Martin and Fabian. Ukraine's line-up was Lysenko, Pylypenko, Pavlenko, Varenytsya and Kucher. In a tight first half of very few chances it was Uruguay who took the initiative over a surprisingly tentative Ukraine side. The South Americans retained possession for much of the opening period and it was no surprise to see player coach Victor Moroz bringing himself on to replace a nervous Kucher. The deadlock was finally broken when Martin's throw-in was met by a diving header from Seba which crept inside the far post.
The game caught fire in the second period after the Celeste went two goals ahead as Ricar capitalised on Pavlenko's mistake. Gradually Ukraine upped the tempo and began to assert their physical dominance. They drew level with strikes from Varenytsta and Bozhenko and looked like overpowering Sanchez's men. But they stood up to the test and went into the second break 3-2 ahead after Jorge's free-kick was parried to German who bundled it home.
The eastern Europeans were forced to chase the game in the last period, levelling at 3-3 after Diego's mistake allowed the excellent Pylypenko to fire into the corner. They went ahead for the first time in the match when Jorge failed to cut out Lysenko's throw and Koryenyev smuggled the ball under the keeper.
Back came the South Americans levelling at 4-4 as Seba shocked the Ukrainian keeper by blasting in off the bar from his own penalty area. Then came German's late, decisive blow. Controlling the ball on his thigh, he crashed in a volley which Lysenko could only push into the top corner.
"This experience is sure to help us in the future as we are such a young side in beach soccer terms," said a positive Ukraine coach Moroz afterwards. "We gave it everything but it wasn't quite enough today. I'm proud of my players, but I would have been even prouder if we had won!"
Referees: Marcelo Bispo (BRA), Renato de Carlo (BRA) and Pinto Correa (POR).