There was joy for Brazil but disappointment for the UAE after the Intercontinental Cup beach soccer tournament kicked off in Dubai on Tuesday.
Defending champions Brazil made an impressive start to their campaign with a 11-3 victory over Egypt in Group A at the Marasi Business Bay. With that, the defending champions extended their winning run to 43 in all competitions.
Egypt took a surprise lead through an Elhusseini Rashed Aly strike in the opening minute, only for it to be cancelled when Brazil's Bruno Xavier - the 2016 tournament's Most Valuable Player - scored with the help of a deceptive free kick.
Brazil had their noses in front after the interval through a neat finish from Datinha. Ze Lucas then extended the lead with a well-taken shot. Mohammed Hassan closed the gap for Egypt, but Datinha’s second strike restored the two-goal cushion for the South Americans.
In a game that went back and forth, Hassan pulled one back before the second period only for Brazil to come back strongly in the final period to score six unanswered goals, thereby demolishing the North Africans. Rodrigo fired a hat-trick, Xavier was on target twice and a third of the match for Datinha sealed the win.
It was a performance that pleased coach Gilberto Costa, who nevertheless warned his side that nothing should be taken for granted despite victory.
“Egypt made us fight until the last period,” he said. “We pulled it off towards the end but it was a hard game.
“This is the way it’s going to be in every game and we must find a way to win. My players were incredible tonight.”
In the group's other game, the UAE gave Portugal an almighty scare before Madjer and Jordan Santos struck twice in the last two minutes to complete a 6-4 win.
The UAE had come close to upsetting the Europeans at the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in the Bahamas in May, and they were hoping to return with a better result.
But it took Portugal just 20 seconds to grab a 1-0 lead through a Leo Martins strike. They doubled the advantage when Jordan’s free kick beat Mohammed Al Jasmi and rolled over the line.
Waleed Beshr got the hosts points on the board with 18 seconds left of the opening period. Portugal were then dealt another blow when Ali Karim equalised after the break from a free kick following Elinton Andrade’s dismissal for handling outside the area.
All this made for an exciting second half. Unfortunately for the UAE, however, in-form midfielder Santos restored Portugal’s lead and then scored again ahead of the third period.
The hosts kept their hopes alive through Hasham Al Muntaser’s coolly-taken finish into the bottom corner and had the home fans jumping in joy with a second to level the score.
But Portugal’s quality eventually prevailed as Madjer found the net with a free kick squirm before Santos scored the fourth of the match with two seconds left.
In the other games in Group B, Russia powered to a 6-2 triumph over Mexico and Iran outclassed Paraguay 5-2.
Nikolai Kryshanov and Yury Krashenninikov set the platform for Russia before building up a 5-0 lead with second period strikes from Alexey Pavlenko, Boris Nikonorov and Kirill Romanov.
Mexico finally got their act together with goals from Jose Maldonado and Benjamin Mosco but it was too little, too late for them as the recently crowned European champions sealed the game with a second from Nikonorov.
On Wednesday, the UAE meet Egypt and Brazil take on Portugal after. Paraguay face Russia and Mexico play Iran.