The quarter-finals cast for the Beach Soccer World Cup is complete with Senegal joining former champions Russia and Portugal with wins over their respective opponents in Asuncion.
Russia, winners in 2011 and 2013, had to claw back from 0-2 deficit in the first period to book their last eight berth. In the tense Group C encounter, the Russians finally triumphed 5-3.
After Belarus’s Aleh Hapon (4:42) and Russia’s Boris Nikonorov (5:06) scored early, Belarus jumped out into a two-goal lead by the first interval thanks to Ihar Bryshtsel’s quickly-dispatched bicycle kick (6:57) and Ivan Kanstantsinau’s low drive (9:52).
Jolted into action, the second period was all Russia. Fedor Zemskov (13:41) scored a special goal, courtesy of an acrobatic effort from a corner kick. Nikonorov (15:46) then headed in his second on the night to bring the teams level going into the second interval.
Nikonorov completed his hat-trick (33:26) when he headed in Vadzim Bokach’s bicycle kick at the back post. Dimitrii Shishin (35:29) added a fifth and sealed the victory.
The results will see the Russians taking on defending champions Brazil in the quarter-finals. The last time the two teams clashed in the knockout stages was in 2015 when the Russians edged out Brazil 6-5 after extra time.
The two teams also met in the finals of the 2011 edition with the Russians clinching the coveted title with a 12-8 defeat of the Brazilians. However, the Russians would be up against a ruthless Brazil side, who have have been in sublime form in the group stages.
In their final Group D match, Brazil looking to win their record 15th world title, demolished Nigeria 12-2.
Mauricinho (3:50) and Lucao (5:52) put Brazil ahead before Egan-Osi Ekujumi (8:10) gave the Super Sand Eagles a glimmer of hope with his tidy finish.
Rodrigo (15:14) added a third with a driven left-footed finish into the far corner, but Nigeria were back to within one again when captain Azeez Abu (16:09) carved out a one-on-one chance and finished confidently past Mao. However, Lucao (18:19) got his second on the night with a precise volley.
Brazil pulled away completely in the third period as Rodrigo (24:44, 26:21) completed a hat-trick, highlighted by an impressively-high bicycle kick, while Bokinha (28:47. 34:47) scored a brace and Rafinha (28:01), Bruno Xavier (31:06), Catarino (32:00) and Filipe (33:54) all got on the scoresheet.
The Brazilians have scored an impressive 29 goals after just three matches in the competition, eight more than Group D champions Italy.
Portugal finished second behind Brazil in Group D with a 3-1 win over Oman to earn their quarter-final place.
The 2015 champions were made to sweat, though, as both sides exchanged goals in the first period through Coimbra’s penalty (4:01) and Jalal Al Sinani’s free header (8:26).
Be Martins (20:27) scored the only goal of the second period and it was a beauty. The diminutive and skillful player hit a blistering shot into the top corner from distance, with Oman’s Younis Al Owaisi helpless to stop it.
Martins turned provider after that, laying on an accurate and low cross for brother Leo (27:36) to tap in at the back post.
Quarter-finalists in 2017, Portugal will now look to improve on that finish this time around as they go up against Senegal.
Three goals in the final period helped Senegal defeat UAE 3-1 in Group C and seal a place in the quarter-finals. With so much riding on this game, both teams started out playing very conservatively in the first two periods, giving away few chances at either end.
Senegal came alive in the third period. Mamadou Sylla (26:08) intercepted a UAE corner kick before steering a long-range strike into the bottom corner. Ninou Diatta (27:06) followed that up with another well-hit shot from distance, which took a nasty bounce right in front of Emirati keeper Mohamed Aljasmi.
Raoul Mendy (29:59) made it three with a delicate chip before Ali Karim (31:39) scored a scrappy goal for UAE.