Hosts Great Britain thrashed in opening goalball fixture

Prince William watches as Lithuania romp to 11-1 win. 30 Aug 2012

Goalball at London 2012 Paralympic Games.


"We've something to build on and we can only come back stronger."

Team GB were thrashed 11-1 by Lithuania in the opening game of the men’s goalball competition at the Copperbox on Thursday.

It was a strong performance from the world champions who raced to a 10 point lead, resulting in the match ending with eight minutes remaining on the clock.

There was certainly a great deal of public interest for the opening match of the competition, with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in attendance at the ‘box that rocks'.

As with the British handball team, who also competed in the Copperbox venue this summer, the Goalball team has been formed virtually from scratch five years ago, and the difference in experience between the two sides showed.

Nail Graham had the honour of scoring Great Britain’s first ever goal in Paralympic competition – but that was where the joy ended for the nation’s goalball side in what was a disappointing result.

Speaking after the match, Graham said: "It was always going to be hard (against Lithuania). We've something to build on and we can only come back stronger."

Brazil held off a resilient comeback from Finland to win their opening match 6-5 in group A.

Romario Diego Marques scored a hat-trick to give Brazil a 3-1 lead at the interval after Finland gave away two penalties within the space of 30 seconds.

After the break the Brazilians further extended their lead to 5-1, before a resurgent Finland fought back to level terms scoring four goals in just two minutes. They eventually fell to a sixth Brazilian goal.

Turkey made an impressive start in their opening group A game against Beijing 2008 bronze medallists Sweden.

Sweden, who have made the podium at the last three Paralympic Games, defended poorly and found themselves 4-0 down at half-time.

After the break Fatmir Seremeti scored twice for the Swedes in under a minute to reduce Turkey’s lead to three. However, Turkey immediately struck back and eventually ran out 9-2 winners.

Iran stunned the defending Paralympic champions China, beating them 9-5 in their opening group B match of the men’s goalball.

Seyed Mehdi Sayahi scored all nine of Iran’s goals as they took the initiative in a fast paced match which had the crowd on the edge of their seats.

The Chinese team featured five of the six players who won gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralmypics, but there was little they could do to stop Sayahi who was scoring at will.

“I was very happy to score all nine, but I couldn't have done it without my teammates,” said Sayahi. “The result is very important to the people back home.”

Elsewhere in group B, Korea edged a tense match against Algeria 4-3. Hong Sung-Wook was the hero for the Koreans, scoring all four of their goals.

Canada paid the price for giving away two second-half penalties against Belgium, losing 4-2 in the final match of the day from the men’s goalball.

Canadian veteran Mario Caron pulled the score back to 3-2 after the break, before giving away a penalty for a high ball, which he then saved magnificently.

However, the 50-year old was unable to repeat the feat three minutes from time, when John De Rick scored from a penalty for the same offence to make sure of the result for Belgium.

Great Britain’s women also suffered defeat in their opening game of group C against the world champions China. Team GB did manage to pull the score back to 2-1 after a mix-up in the Chinese defence, but in the end their opponents proved to be too strong, running out 7-1 winners.

Anna Sharkey said: “It was a heavy loss against the world champions. We worked hard and the foundations are there for the future.”

Brazil beat Denmark 2-0 in group C. Brazil faced a nervy ending after conceding a penalty in the final minute for time wasting. However, Duarte Ruas Custodio made a fantastic save to deny Karina Jorgensen.

In the final game of the day the USA comfortably beat Sweden 5-1. Jen Armbuster scored a first half hat-trick for the Americans which put them 4-0 up at the interval.

Sweden did manage to pull one goal back in the second half, but the Americans were far superior and stronger throughout the match.