Italy earned the right to meet multiple world champions Brazil in the fight for fifth place play-off in the Third Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup that concludes at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) on Saturday.
Showing improvement with each match, Italy secured their first win in the competition with a shock 5-4 win over Mexico, after Brazil had edged past African side Morocco 5-3 in an earlier match.
Defeated by defending champions Russia in their late-night encounter on Thursday, Brazil relied on superior bench strength to get the better of Morocco. Mauricio Oliveira opened the scoring and added a second in the second period while teammates Luiz Alberto Braga and Sidney Ribeiro Souto added apiecefor a comfortable looking 4-0 cushion by the end of the second period.
But the North Africans dug deep and managed to score three goals without any response from the 13-time world champions as Nabil Boulakouaba, Azzeddine Al Hamidy and Nassim Al Hadaoui scored within three minutes to keep the match alive.
However, Brazil had the last laugh when Diogo Catarino da Silva came off the bench and put the issue beyond reach of the Moroccans.
Italy will be their opponents in Saturday’s play-off for fifth place after the Europeans showed fantastic grit in matching Mexico and finally pulled off a last-gasp 5-4 win over the side from South America.
The hero for Italy was their striker Paolo Palmacci as he struck once in each of the three periods to assure themselves of their first win in this competition.
Though Mexico took the lead early through Erick Marin, it was Palmacci’s first goal that ensured the two teams finished the first period 1-1. Palmacci scored from the penalty spot to help the Italians take the lead at the end of the second period.
In the final period, both teams went neck and neck with Michele Leghissa equalising a strike from Angel Rodriguez. Morgan Plata scored his first only to see Leghissa find the goal a second time for Italy to lead 4-3. However, Marin’s second with 45.7 seconds remaining brought things back on level terms, only for Palmacci complete a well-deserved hat-trick with only 15.4 seconds left to complete the win for Italy and a play-off against Brazil.
Mexico vs Morocco, 4.45pm
Third place play-off, 7.15pm