European trio advance with Brazil
Italy-Spain; Portugal-Brazil. These were the Marseille 2008 semi-finals that were set today when the aforementioned quartet eliminated France, Argentina, Uruguay and Russia respectively. FIFA.com reflects on quarter-final day on Prado beach.
The big match
Brazil 6-4 Russia
Goals - Buru, Bruno, Daniel (3), Benjamin for Brazil; Egor Shaykov (2), Dmitry Shishin, Ilya Leonov for Russia
It was 36 minutes of pure edge-of-the-seat action. For a majority of these, the mighty Brazil's title dreams hung in the balance. Russia, with goalkeeper Andrey Bukhlitskiy in inspirational form and Shaykov, Shishin and Leonov forming a probing outfield triumvirate, took 2-0 and 3-2 leads. The Seleção needed a hero - and they found one. Daniel's equaliser sent them out for the final restart all square, and his two goals thereafter propelled Alexandre Soares' side, who lost Buru to a red card, to an intensely hard-fought success.
The other games
Portugal started and finished strongly against Uruguay to win 6-3 and become the first team to reach the last four. There, they will play Brazil, who will be trawling through footage of the admirable performances of Madjer, Alan and man-of-the-moment Belchior. Spain followed their Iberian neighbours into the semi-finals after a 2-0 reverse of Argentina. The Albiceleste's strategy was to limit Amarelle's output, which they did, but they were unable to stop Nico, whose double sent his country through to Saturday's first match. The battle to oppose them in this fixture was won by Italy, much to the dismay of the Marseille crowd, who attempted to roar France back from a five-goal deficit. Ultimately, the Azzurri's first-period dominance proved too high a hurdle for Les Bleus to overcome, and their challenge ended with a 5-2 defeat.
Simone Feudi (ITA)
Playing in his opponents' backyard did not hinder the Italy No5. He was the driving force behind the Azzurri's victory over France, covering every inch of sand, scoring twice and almost adding a third with the most audacious of chips.
32 - The number of years Spain's Nico turned today. It took the birthday boy just three seconds of his side's quarter-final with Argentina, the country in which he was born, to score La Roja's 50th goal in FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup history, and he completed his brace thereafter to seal victory.
What they said
"We're delighted to have reached the semi-finals. Uruguay are strong opponents but we played as a team and got the victory. We think we can beat anybody in this tournament and that includes Brazil," Belchior, Portugal player.