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Goalball Europeans C – peaking at right time

Date: September 9, 2013

Category: Goalball

We were reminded on this final day of the 2013 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men C that nothing is guaranteed and that was certainly the case as the tournament wrapped up.
Day 4 started with the remaining round robin matches. The four teams for the semifinals were nearly confirmed. Greece and The Netherlands needed to win all their matches and rely on other results to be able to take fourth place but this did not happen and Portugal were able to hold on. Great Britain finished first undefeated and were followed by Russia and Italy who had only suffered losses to those teams ranked higher than them.
After the conclusion of the round robin it was time for the semifinals. The first was 1st vs 4th. That meant Great Britain vs Portugal. The remaining semifinal was between Russia and Italy. The winners of these two semifinals were guaranteed promotion to European Goalball group B.
Great Britain was the overwhelming favourites in their semifinal due to them being Up to this point undefeated. Great Britain took the early lead and within a matter of minutes was up 2-0. However, Portugal was there to make a match of it and that they did. With 2.5 minutes remaining before half time Portugal scores and it’s 2-1.
Early in the second half there was a Flourish of goals and the result was Portugal taking the lead 4-3. Each time Great Britain equalized Portugal moved forward. This continued until the score line was 5-5. With 90 seconds to go, Portugal made another goal and it’s 6-5.
Great Britain kept on fighting but they threw a highball with 20 seconds to go and Portugal converted to put the final nail in the coffin. 
Once the match was completed, Elation erupted from the Portugal bench as they became a B country for the first time since the three levels has existed in Europe. The star of this match was Sacramento who scored all 7 of Portugal’s goals.
After such a thrilling semifinal 1, hopes were high for another exciting match. Unfortunately this was not the case. Russia took the early command of this match. Within 4 minutes it was already 4-0. Italy made a substitution and directly after this scored their first goal.  However, his was not the start of their comeback. Russia responded and it was 5-1. Each team scored again throughout the first half to see the score at the pause poised at 6-2.
The second half continued with Russia dominating Italy. The final score was 10-3.
In a breaking of tradition, the next match was the play off for gold. The reason for having this before the bronze medal match was that these two teams had already qualified for promotion. Whereas the bronze medal match was not only a play off for a podium position but also the final promotion spot.
Unfortunately the gold medal match did not deliver an exciting match. Russia came out of the blocks determined to take the gold medal. Promotion to group B was not enough for them. Very quickly they had a handy lead and by the time that the first half was passed the score was already 7-2.
In the second half Russia took their foot off the pedal and even though they scored a few more times the goal rush slowed down. The final score was 9-3. Russia is the 2013 IBSA Goalball European Champions Men C while silver is for Portugal.
The tournament concluded with the bronze medal match. This game was very important because there was a lot on the line. It was not only the final promotion place but also still a chance of competing in Rio in 2016. Sadly the road to Rio would end for the loser.
Great Britain and Italy were the two final teams battling it out. From the outset the Italians were very determined. They lost the round robin match against Great Britain by one goal after leading for most of the time. They felt very hard done by after this loss and therefore out for revenge.
The first half started with Italy scoring but not long after Great Britain equalized. However, it didn’t take Italy long to take charge. Mid-way through the first stanza Italy moved ahead 2-1. Great Britain had a couple of chances to equalize late in the first half through a couple of 10 second penalties.  Disappointingly for them, they were unable to capitalize on these opportunities.
Two minutes into the second half, Italy moved even further ahead making it 3-1.  Defensive mistakes from Great Britain led to Italy moving even further ahead 4-1 to basically confirm their place at next year’s IBSA Goalball European Championships Men B. With 5:29 remaining Great Britain had another chance to score through a penalty but once again couldn’t convert.  Directly after this Italy scored their fifth goal, devastating the home nation and spectators.  After this Italy continued to move ahead with a final score line of 7-2 despite Great Britain having a further chance to score due to an illegal coaching penalty.
IBSA Goalball would like to thank Goalball UK for organizing this tournament. We would also like to congratulate them on the great video coverage with commentary.
Final standings
1) Russia
2) Portugal
3) Italy
4) Great Britain
5) The Netherlands
6) Greece
7) Croatia
8) Azerbaijan
9) Bulgaria
Day 4 Results
Greece 1 – Great Britain 3
Netherlands 12 – Azerbaijan 6
Italy 6 – Portugal 5
Croatia 8 – 0 Bulgaria
Greece 2 – Russia 7
Semi 1: Great Britain 5 – Portugal 7
Semi 2: Russia 10 – Italy 3
3/4: Italy 7 – Great Britain 2
Final: Russia 9 – Portugal 3

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