Ukraine dominated the opening game of the 2016 International Federation of Cerebral Palsy (IFCP) Pre-Paralympic Tournament, shutting out the Netherlands 10-0 on Saturday (30 April) in Salou, Spain.
The 2015 World Championships runner-up took the 1-0 lead at halftime, and went on a scoring rampage in the second. Team captain Volodymyr Antonyuk, Oleh Len and Edhar Kahramanian each had a pair of goals, helping Ukraine to the top Group A, which also consists of Argentina.
Competition continued on Sunday (1 May) with Group B action, and it was Brazil and Great Britain who also collected victories with clean sheets.
The Irish squad, who had some decent chances before the break, went in at half-time 2-0 down following well-worked goals from Brazil’s Gabriell Brian D’Angelo Santos and Leandro Goncalves. Fabrizio Arlindo Nascimento scored the last goal to give the World bronze medallists the 3-0 victory.
Despite good play from Joe Markey and Conor Tuite, coupled with some well-timed runs from Tom Badun and Darragh Snell, Ireland could not break through the Brazilian defence.
A determined second-half display from Ireland seemed to be keeping the dangerous Brazilian attack at bay, and they had a number of chances with Ryan Nolan coming closest midway through. However, somewhat against the run of play, Brazil drove forward once more to drill home their third goal.
"We knew it was going to be a tough opening game," Ireland’s team manager Barry Ferguson said. "Brazil are a top side, but I think the lads put it up to them throughout the game and performed well as a squad.
"We've taken a lot of positives from the performance and we're looking ahead now to our second game against Great Britain [Monday] evening."
Great Britain thrashed the USA 4-0 in their opening match. The British were up 1-0 at half-time thanks to a goal by team captain Matt Crossen. James Blackwell and Oliver Nugent added the finishing touches in the second half.
Group play continues Monday (2 May) with matches between Argentina and the Netherlands; the USA and Brazil; and Great Britain and Ireland. Medal matches will be on Saturday (7 May).
The seven-nation tournament is the last major competition before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Competitions will be live streamed and can also be followed on Twitter @cpfootballsalou with the hashtag #Salou2016. Complete results are available at the event website.