2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup got underway at the Luzhniki Beach Soccer Stadium in the Russian capital Moscow today, with the hosts starting their campaign with a victory.
The team is competing as the Football Union of Russia (RFU), and played the United States in the final match of the day.
After being tied at four apiece after three periods Alexey Makarov grabbed an extra-time winner to earn his team two points in Group A.
Nicolas Perera had given the US the lead, and equalised with four minutes remaining after the RFU had taken a 4-2 lead.
Earlier in the day in the same group, Japan recovered from falling 3-0 and 4-2 down to Paraguay to claim the maximum three points with a 7-4 victory, with Takuya Akaguma and Shusei Yamauchi both earning hat-tricks.
The first match of the tournament saw the United Arab Emirates (UAE) clinch a 4-3 extra-time win against Tahiti in Group B.
Tahiti lost World Cup finals in 2015 and 2017, and scored the first goal of the competition courtesy of Tamatoa Tetauira after 22 minutes.
The UAE, who have never progressed from the group, hit back to lead 3-1.
Tahiti took the game to extra-time, but Ahmed Beshr was on target for UAE to earn his country two points.
In the group’s other match, debutants Mozambique lost 8-4 to Spain, although Nelson grabbed the country’s first goal at the Beach Soccer World Cup, while Figo earned a hat-trick.
Spain’s Chiky Ardil also bagged a hat-trick in the match as his country topped the group.
The first matches in Groups C and D are due to be held tomorrow, with defending champions Portugal opening against Oman in Group D, while five-times winners Brazil face Switzerland in Group C.
Senegal play Uruguay in Group D to start the day’s action, followed by Belarus versus El Salvador in Group C.