A tight tie between defending champions Brazil and Germany headlined day two at the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, on Monday (4 June).
It was Brazil that emerged victorious with a 6-3 score line thanks to three goals each from the brilliant Leomon Moreno da Silva and Josemarcio da Silva Souza.
But the team were given a lot to think about by their German rivals, scorers Oliver Horauf and Thomas Steiger in particular.
The match saw both sides make mistakes that led to goals in two tension-filled halves. The first 12 minutes saw an exciting exchange of goals with Germany just taking the lead at 3-2.
The break seemed to benefit the title holders. They put in a good second-half performance, netting four goals in total.
“The second half we didn’t do what we did in the first half and I’m a little bit sad about it,” Germany’s Michael Feistle said. “We can be proud that we could play at this World Championships. We played two good games yesterday [winning against Canada and the USA] and really, really good now against Brazil so we can be proud and we are looking forward to the games tomorrow.”
Brazil kept a clean sheet in group B as they also beat Iran 7-4 earlier in the day.
In the women’s group C two of the world’s best goalball teams went head-to-head as 2014 silver medallists Russia overcame Paralympic champions Turkey 7-5.
Russia were first to score, taking a 2-0 lead thanks to Irina Arestova before adding another two goals.
Despite being on the back foot Turkey began their comeback as Sevda Altunoluk found the back of the Russian net for the first time. Altunoluk then entered her stride, scoring another three goals. She levelled the score with a fast return that took the Russian defence by surprise just before half time.
Both teams were more cautious in the second half but it was Arestova who found the net once again for Russia to bring the score to 6-5. The team added their final goal courtesy of a penalty from Anna Shevchenko.
Speaking to Disability Sports Network, Arestova was not 100 per cent pleased with their performance: “Our plan was to play the whole game very calm, but there was a moment when we became a bit nervous and something was broken.”
Russia also played Japan in the final game of the day. A draw of 4-4 showed consistency from the Tokyo 2020 hosts, but Russia still lead group C.
Japan eased past Sweden 6-2, also in group C, despite the home crowd support.
Rounding off that group were Australia who staged an impressive comeback against Israel from 4-1 down to win 7-5.
There were some tight score lines in the other matches on Monday.
Men’s group A
Debutants Argentina once again showed they are not to be underestimated.
‘The Moles’ scored two goals against Paralympic champions Lithuania in the first four minutes of their game.
Lithuania managed to level the score and pull the match back. However, like other teams before them at Malmo 2018, Argentina’s constant switching of their attack and defence caught their opponents off-guard.
Argentina’s Marcelo Sarmiento, the longest serving member of the squad, said: “I am very happy to be in the World Championships for the first time […] we are just gaining experience. I feel honoured that we can be a part of such an important competition.
"If somebody had told me that I will be playing with Sweden, fourth in Europe, I would be surprised. I feel a bit sad, because we did not win, but all in all, we tied with one of the best world teams and I am very satisfied."
Justas Pazarauskas was the top scorer for Lithuania, contributing six goals to their 10-6 victory.
Lithuania’s Arturas Jonikaitis said: "After this game I feel happy, but anyway we have a lot of fighting in the future, so we did the best for now. But we will have to prove our best tomorrow with the other teams. Our team, we are fighters, we never give up. Everyone feels relaxed and only thinking about games when they are about to start.”
Argentina had also gone 2-0 up in their earlier game against Algeria. Forcing the Algerians onto the back-foot, they exchanged blows for the majority of the rest of the match.
Mohamed Mokrane proved to be the difference for Algeria, scoring the winning goal.
Algeria then lost to Belgium 8-2 with four of the Belgian goals coming in the second half. The Belgians now lead the group.
“We’re pleased with our results and are well on our way to reach our goal of qualifying for the quarter-finals,” Belgian player Tom Vanhove said.
In the other group A matches Sweden and China were in action.
Sweden returned to the court determined to make-up for their draw against Argentina on the opening day (3 June). They made great strides on Monday, winning 13-5 over Australia. They then beat Turkey 6-4 to move to second in their group.
Hu Mingyao scored seven of China’s goals in their 11-1 win against Australia.
Women’s – group D
The USA ground out a victory against China for the first time since the final of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
After scoring first, the US found it tough to penetrate the Chinese defence. China then responded just seconds before the whistle in the first half. Three more goals for the USA, including one penalty, followed in the second half. However China could only manage to find the next one more time.
The USA ran down the clock to finish with a 4-2 win. They then took on Algeria in their final game of the day, also winning 4-2 to top the group with no losses so far.
In the other group D games Greece held Canada to a 2-1 score after two first-half goals. Konstantina Driva and Vasiliki Ago were the scorers for the Greeks.
Brazil took on Algeria, leaving with a convincing 8-2 victory.
Men – group B
Defending bronze medallists the USA had a tense encounter with Iran. Whilst the US team dominated the first half, the Iranians found a renewed determination in the second. Coming back from 8-4 down, the Asian team managed to level the score by the whistle to 8-8.
In the other group B games the Czech Republic beat Egypt 11-3 in the first of their two games for the day.
However their winning streak came to an end after they met Canada later in the afternoon.
The Canadians clawed their way back from a two goal deficit in the first half before fending off a charge from the Czech Republic in the second. With the score at 7-7 Blair Nesbitt scored the winner for Canada.
Japan also beat Egypt 10-0.
Matches are being played across two venues on the same complex - the Baltiska Hallen and Baltiska träningshallen. The medallists from both the men's and women's will qualify for Tokyo 2020.
A livestream and results are available at www.wcg18.se
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