Inspirational Italy claim Homeless World Cup
SCOTLAND finished fourth in the Homeless World Cup yesterday after defeat by Ukraine in a thrilling third-fourth-place play-off match in Princes Street Gardens.
The tournament was eventually won by Italy after they defeated Poland 3-2 in the final to round off a wonderful five days in the capital. However, it was the Scots' game that really captured the imagination of the Edinburgh public.
On Saturday, Ally Dawson's side had lost in a two-legged semi-final against Italy 7-4 on aggregate and they went down 2-1 yesterday despite tremendous backing from the capacity crowd and a late Frank Hughes goal.
Ukraine took the lead in the first half after Scotland's Andrew Steel was hassled off the ball in the corner and the Ukrainian play-maker took advantage to slide the ball past the despairing dive of goalkeeper David Fairgrieve.
Scotland came more into the game in the second half, thanks largely to the introduction of Gary Lipscombe. He went close to equalising on a number of occasions but found the woodwork and the Ukrainian goalkeeper in his way.
However, the Eastern Europeans soaked up the pressure and added a second midway through the half, thanks to some smart passing and a cool finish. The Scots' were then handed a lifeline after a Ukrainian was "blue" carded - which means a two-minute stint in the sin bin - and they took full advantage of the extra man to grab a goal back with just over a minute to play, Hughes firing home to spark the crowd into life.
Despite creating numerous chances in the dying seconds the Scots' could find no way past the impressive Ukrainian keeper for a second time and the visitors held on for the win.
After the match coach Dawson said: "The players were really disappointed on Saturday but they managed to get themselves back together for this game.
"We started slowly but in the second half the guys played like I know they can and we were very unlucky not to take the game to a penalty shoot-out. The guys gave me everything they had."
Although Dawson's side lost their last game to repeat their fourth place finish from Gothenburg last year the players had nothing but praise for the tournament.
Lipscombe said: "This is the best tournament I have played in for a long time. The crowd have been fantastic all week and the memories of this tournament will live with me for the rest of my life."
Meanwhile in an equally thrilling game Italy retained their trophy after a 3-2 win over Poland. After a scrappy opening the Italians opened the scoring in the first half through Hugo Alonso, who struck from close range. In the second half they doubled their lead through a penalty from inspirational captain Ricardo Armua just after the restart. The Poles refused to give in though and grabbed one goal back only for Armua to notch his second with a thumping drive moments later.
Despite another reply from Poland, Italy clung on to win the trophy and spark celebrations at the sun-kissed Ross Bandstand.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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