Takuya Akaguma celebrated his 30th birthday in style by heading in Japan’s winning goal over hosts Paraguay in their opening Group A match at the Los Pynandi Stadium in Asuncion.
After Paraguayan Carlos Carballo had equalised for Paraguay with less than three minutes remaining and the match look destined to end in a draw, Akaguma’s header with just one second left on the clock (35:59) beat Yoao Rolon to give the Asian champions a remarkable 5-4 win.
After an even start to the match, the Japanese were in control of the second period with strikes from Masanori Okuyama (12:48) and Ozu Moreira (15:39). Moreira also found the net for Japan in the second half on 26:54.
Akaguma’s last gasp winner was his second in the game, having also scored after 23:28.
Paraguay would be lamenting the two times their attempts rattled the woodwork. They scored all their four goals in the second half with Carballo scoring twice (21:45 and 33:40) while skipper Pedro Moran (27:22) and Edgar Barreto (31:21) were their other scorers.
Tahiti, losing finalists at the last two editions, got off on the wrong footing in their opening Group B match.
The Tiki Toa hoping to go one better were given a rude shock by Italy, who stunned the Tahitians 12-4.
The Italians had only placed fourth at the last world cup with Emmanuelle Zurlo and Gabriele Gori in hot form up front,
Gori, who was the top scorer in Bahamas two years ago, was lethal with his five goals for Italy. He opened score for them just 1:36 into the match. His other goals came after 5:53, 12:54, 31:03 and 35:59.
Zurlo’s four goals were scored on 17:19, 17:42, 28:47 and 32:49. Marcello Percia Montani (29:04), Alessio Frainetti (22:47) and captain Francesco Corostini (8:45 and 9:42) were their other scorers.
While the Italians were unstoppable in the Tahitian goalmouth, scoring their 12 goals from their 20 shots on target, Tahiti’s frontline was almost toothless as they managed their paltry four from a whopping 42 shots on target.
Raimana Li Fung Kee (12:51 and 25:40) scored a brace for the Oceania champions with Arrihau Teriitau (3:48) and Gervais Chan-kat (11:31) finding the nets.
In another Group A match, Switzerland held off a persistent USA side in a 14-goal thriller. The Swiss goal poachers were red hot with Noel Ott scoring a hattrick and Dejan Stankovic bagging the opener after just 52 seconds and adding another stylish goal after 13:42.
After Stankovic’s long range opener it took just over 30 seconds for the Americans to find the equaliser through Jason Leopoldo (1:26).
Glenn Hodel’s spectacular bicycle-kick early in the first period (5:25) was another highlight moment on an overall positive start for the Europeans.
Ott’s hattrick came on 9:31, 31;23 and 32:21 with Philipp Borer (26:07) and Elliot Mounoud (20:44) also hitting the mark.
The other American goalscorers were Nicolas Perera (14:47 and 31:45), Jason Santos (29:58) and Oscar Reyes (26:05 and 26:19).
The group B match between Mexico and Uruguay was the only match of the day that was decided by a solitary goal.
Uruguay captain Gaston Laduche scored the winning goal in the final minute of the game, pouncing at the back post to score from Luis Quinta’s attempted bicycle kick.
Matchday 2 – 22 November
Senegal vs Russia
Belarus vs UAE
Portugal vs Nigeria
Brazil vs Oman
Matchday 2 will see three former Beach Soccer World Cup champions take to the stage. Russia will kick off the day against African champions Senegal before Portugal take on Nigeria. Beach Soccer kings Brazil will wrap up the evening against Oman.
The tournament’s only debutants Belarus face United Arab Emirates, Asia’s runners-up.