Canucks send Spain packing
Few could have imagined that Spain would be packing their bags after the first round at Rio de Janeiro 2006, but the European champions will be taking no further part in the festivities. Soundly defeated in their third match, they can have few complaints about their fate. Since hitting the heights in the first period of their Group-B opener against France, the Iberians have seemed totally lost on the sands of Copacabana Beach and leave their coach Joaquin Alonso a very disappointed man.
"I congratulate an excellent Canada team, but I can't help but be surprised," he commented afterwards. "We were bad right from our very first game, and today we reached a new low. Nothing worked. I accept that, but I really don't understand what happened."
The opening exchanges were nonetheless extremely tight, with both sides seemingly as worried about not losing as they were determined to win. In fact, when Canada's Kyriakos Selaidopoulos opened the scoring in the 12th minute, neither goalkeeper had yet been called upon to make a save.
Up until then, Spain had dominated without really looking dangerous, but there were signs that that could be about to change when Nico crashed the ball against Gregory Bonar's crossbar at the start of the second period. It was not to be, though, as the Canadians doubled their advantage before Amarelle struck the same crossbar and Javi had his penalty saved by the Canuck custodian. All of a sudden, Alonso's men had just 12 minutes to save their FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup bid.
The gaunt look on Amarelle's face at the break spoke volumes about the troubles in the Spanish camp, and the gifted striker was given further reason to doubt when the unfortunate Nico saw his shot come back of a post as time ticked down.
Further back, Roberto was doing an excellent job of snuffing out opposition counter-attacks to keep Spanish hopes alive, but there was nothing he could do to stop Canadian captain Selaidopoulos netting his second goal to seal victory. Clawing back a three-goal deficit in two minutes would have tested Spain on the best of days, and given their lacklustre performances here in Brazil it never looked like happening.
"My team aren't just a bunch of friends who play football together on the beach," explained Canada trainer Rosario Ongaro with a big grin. "It's huge that they managed to beat the European champions so easily. I'm so proud of them."
Referees: Ivo Santos (BRA), Faisal Sallam (UAE), Renato De Carlos (BRA)