Matchday 3 Review
By Doug Reed
Matchday 3 opened with Moldova against Finland. Neither team could qualify for the semi-finals and both were looking for their first win. Nothing separated the two teams until 6 minutes before the half a shot from out wide gave Moldova the lead. They had to defend their lead whilst on 5 fouls but managed to make it to the break without conceding a penalty or a goal.
In the second half Finland had most of the possession as they did in the first but Moldova defended with everything they had and their goalkeeper added to this with a superb performance. Finland brought out the fly goalkeeper to get the equaliser but were punished when Moldova scored into the empty net. They added two more to give them a confidence boosting and well deserved 4-0 win.
The following game was from Group A where Serbia took on the unbeaten Iraq. Serbia conceded from a corner deflected into their own net, exactly as they had to give Croatia a winner right at the end of the previous evening’s game. They were the next to score with a set play of their own as a volley was tucked in at the far post.
The scores remained level until halfway through the second half Iraq scored through a well worked team goal. Serbia’s goalkeeper was sent off with 5 minutes to go as he was rounded and brought down the Iraqi attacker. Serbia managed to not concede with a player down but lost crucial time to try and get back into the game. They had also given 5 fouls away and Iraq had a 10m penalty saved. Serbia brought on the fly goalkeeper but their hopes ended as the final whistle blew with the score 2-1 in favour of Iraq.
In the final game of Group B that would decide who would top the group Slovenia played Hungary. It was Slovenia who went ahead before Hungary stole possession high up the court to equalise. Slovenia regained their lead with a long range shot near the midway point of the 2nd half. With 5 minutes to go Hungary levelled the scores again through a fast break but could only hold on to the lead for 24 seconds before a corner from Slovenia gave them what would prove to be the winner.
The group stages concluded with Croatia and Poland. Croatia started the game well, circulating the ball quickly around the court. Croatia drew first blood when their attacker cut inside from the left wing to finish from 10 meters. Their combination play was on another level to their previous games and they scored a sublime second with a long aerial diagonal ball passed across the goal and volleyed in off the crossbar. They added a third before Poland responded when they had three consecutive shots hit the post but the third finally crossed the line.
The two teams started the second half at a pulsating speed and the spectators were enjoying arguably the most entertaining game of the championships so far. Croatia got their fourth with a deep run was found and a toe poke finish didn’t give the Polish goalkeeper a chance to react. Despite Poland creating a number of chances they couldn’t narrow the deficit and Croatia had an impressive 4-1 victory.
It all starts again in the final phase on Saturday after a rest day on Friday. Iraq & Slovenia both have 100% records but Croatia and Hungary both will believe they can lift the Futsal Week Summer Cup U19 title.