12 June 2018
England suffer penalty agony at Blind Football World Cup
A gutted Jon Pugh knows England must pick themselves up from their quarter-final penalty shootout heartbreak after being knocked out of the Blind Football World Cup.
Nico Veliz’s spot-kick proved the decisive moment as Argentina booked their place in the semi-finals, prevailing 1-0 in the shootout once the game finished 1-1 after 40 minutes.
But that was far less than what England deserved against the two-time World Cup champions in Madrid, with Brandon Coleman squeezing in the leveller with just three minutes to go.
Maxi Espinillo had fired Argentina ahead within 90 seconds but from there the game belonged to England – who now have to go again for Thursday’s classification match against hosts Spain.
“We’re gutted to be honest, in that second half we’ve dominated possession and just haven’t been able to get that goal early enough,” said head coach Pugh.
If we score earlier then I think we’d have gone on and won the game.
“It goes to penalties and they’ve got history of winning shootouts and we haven’t and I think that showed, the qualities of the penalties were better for them.
“Spain are a fantastic team, they’ll find themselves unlucky they’re not in the semi-finals so it’s going to be two teams disappointed they aren’t further in the competition.
“Now we have to go out there and compete and see how high we can finish.”
England got off to the worst possible start as Espinillo picked his spot and fired home exquisitely, with Argentina ahead with less than two minutes played.
It meant a response was needed from Pugh’s side, finding their feet as the half wore on before ending the first period on top, Roy Turnham forcing goalkeeper German Muleck into a smart stop.
That pressure continued after the break as Robin Williams weaved his way into space and threatened to shoot, failing to make sufficient contact to trouble the goal.
With just ten minutes to go Argentina upped their game and forced goalkeeper Dylan Malpas into three exquisite saves, the last after a snapshot took a wicked deflection – forcing him to switch direction before getting fingertips to the ball.
But from there England built up a head of steam and got their reward, Coleman firing low and hard from a free-kick, enough to beat Muleck – despite the stopper getting a hand to the ball.
No more chances in the game ensured penalties followed, with Coleman unable to follow up his goal-scoring exploits from the spot as he missed the first kick.
Indeed just one goal from five attempts was scored in the shootout, with Veliz’s stunning high effort winning the game for Argentina as England suffered heartache in the last eight.
But their tournament is not done there, up against hosts Spain on Thursday afternoon – with the winner heading into Saturday’s play-off for fifth and sixth places, while the loser will battle it out for seventh and eighth on the same day.
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