Madjer to the rescue for Portugal
Held at bay by the solid Bahraini defence for long stretches of their quarter-final, European heavyweights Portugal eventually surged through to the last four courtesy of star player Madjer. Responsible for four of his team's six goals, the left-footed No. 7 practically swung the tie single-handedly, but it will take much more to trouble hosts Brazil on Saturday in what is sure to be a highly exciting semi-final.
"I asked my players not to give the Portuguese too much space because they're a team who counter-attack to perfection," lamented Bahrain coach Gustavo Zlocewick after the game. "I think they respected their opponents too much."
That may be true, but the Europeans also set out to command that respect right from the off. Thus, with three minutes gone, Madjer floated in a pass to Alan, who lobbed the ball over Salah Salman with, of all things, his shoulder. It was a goal of stunning artistry, and although it perfectly exemplified the technical prowess of the Portuguese, Bahrain stoutly refused to fold.
Halfway through the second period, in fact, Abdulla Ismaeel Omar fired in to keep the tie close, following Madjer's first strike of the day (2-1). Only Portugal boast a player as gifted as Madjer, though, and the world's greatest exponent of beach soccer was in determined mood. He put the Selecao first three and then four goals in the clear to all but end the game as a contest (5-1).
Rashed Salem managed to hit back for Bahrain, but that was no more than a consolation as the more experienced Portuguese saw out the rest of the encounter with measured control (6-2).
"From the quarter-finals onwards, it's double-or-nothing in every match," commented a naturally pleased Ze Miguel after the win. "Every game is a kind of final, and that's how I explain the nervousness my players showed at the start. But I'm pleased they were gradually able to find the right way forward."
Referees: Ivo Santos (BRA), Sofien Benchabane (FRA), Erick Chavarria (CRC)