Joy for Spain and France at the IBSA Blind Football European Championships in Rome, Italy, as they defeated England and Turkey respectively in yesterday's semi-finals.
The first semi-final between Spain and England was an extremely tight match, with the defences on top and scoring chances at a premium. As so often in games between these two European blind football powerhouses, after 40 minutes the game was drawn and the match went to penalty kicks.
Spain showed its experience and kept its head in the penalty shoot-out while England was unable to find the back of the net. Youssef El Hadaoui slotted home his penalty to give Spain the lead and a low penalty from Acosta towards the right-hand side squirmed under the diving England goalkeeper and into the net to secure victory for the Spaniards.
Caption: El Hadaoui scores his penalty for Spain.
Spain celebrated its place in the final and at Tokyo 2020 in style, but also found time to clap the dejected England squad off the pitch in a laudable sporting gesture.
Next up was France against Turkey, with the French team seeking to make the final for the first time since 2013 and the Paralympic Games for the first time since London 2012. Opposition Turkey, European Champions in 2015, fancied their chances of returning to the final and qualifying again for the Paralympic.
Turkey took the lead through Kurbetoglu in the 10th minute, in what was his best game of the competition, but Villeroux equalised just one minute later with a high shot after dribbling in from the right wing. In the aftermath of the goal Turkey had a man sent off and this was to prove decisive as Baron put the French ahead just one minute later from a corner on the left-hand side.
Nian added a third in the ninth minute of the second half to put the game beyond the Turks.
Results match day 6
(Sunday 22nd September - click on links to watch full games)
Spain 0 England 0 (Spain wins penalty shoot-out 2-0)
France 3 Turkey 1
The finalists will rest today as the placement matches for 10th to 5th spots take place. The match schedule is as follows:
Schedule match day 7
(Monday 23rd September)
11:30 9th-10th place play-off - Romania vs Greece
15:00 7th-8th place play-off - Germany vs Belgium
17:30 5th-6th place play-off - Russia vs Italy
Tomorrow the final is at 15:00 and the 3rd-4th place play-off is at 11:30:
Schedule match day 8
(Tuesday 24th September)
11:30 3rd-4th place play-off - England vs Turkey
15:00 Final - Spain vs France
The top two teams at the IBSA Blind Football European Championships have joined hosts Japan, Brazil and Argentina in qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
The 2019 IBSA Blind Football European Championships are hosted by FISPIC
, the Italian Paralympic Federation for the Visually Impaired.
All games from Rome 2019 are streamed live on the IBSA Blind Football page
, FISPIC’s Facebook page
and FISPIC’s YouTube channel
Follow IBSA Blind Football on Facebook