Dubai: The UAE struck two quick extra-time goals to keep their semi-final hopes alive with a fighting 6-4 win over Italy on the second day of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, under way at Jumeirah’s Kite Beach.
After Marcello Montani’s two goals within 20 seconds at the fag end of the final period had taken the match into three minutes of extra-time, it was Ahmad Beshr and Ali Mohammad scoring in the final minute to snatch a win that fetched them their first points of the competition.
The hosts take on Japan in Thursday’s final group match, and only a win will see them through to the semi-finals from Group A. “Japan are the Asian champions and we know exactly what we need to do for an outright win,” UAE coach Mohammad Al Mazmi told media.
“We would have preferred taking all three points, but we will still take the two points after winning during extra-time. Tomorrow will be like a final for both of us,” he added.
Ahmad Beshr, who put the teams apart with his second goal of the match with 1.38 minutes of extra-time remaining, looked into the significance of the win in the long run. “We have to look at the long-term goals, and right now it is all about preparing ourselves for the 2019 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay at the end of this month,” Beshr told Gulf News.
“This win can do a lot for our confidence and help our morale as we take on a strong team like Japan on Thursday,” he added.
Leading 4-2 till the final 2.30 minutes, the hosts looked headed for all three points and their first win of this competition. But Marcello Montani struck two goals within seconds to tie the match 4-4 and send the match into an additional three minutes of extra-time.
Earlier, Spain went on top of Group A after getting the better of Asian champions Japan 3-2. Kosuke Matsuda gave Japan the lead only to see Salvador Manuel Ardil tie the two teams 1-1 at the end of first period. The second period was so close that neither team managed to score - leaving everything to play for in the final session.
Skipper Javier Torres Molina’s header gave Spain the lead again and David Ardil hit one from close to go 3-1 up with 5.05 minutes remaining, but the Japanese fought well and pulled one back in the final minute and then ran out of time.
4.15 pm: Italy vs Spain (Group B)
5.30: Mexico vs Egypt (Group A)
6.45: UAE vs Japan (Group A)