Pararoos go down to Portugal in Cup opener

Portugal, having not competed at international level for a number of years were a bit of a mystery for the Pararoos going into their opening encounter at the Intercontinental Cup in Spain.

Portugal, having not competed at international level for a number of years were a bit of a mystery for the Pararoos going into their opening encounter at the Intercontinental Cup in Spain.

The opening exchanges were a fairly lack lustre affair, with Australia keeping much of the possession but failing to get forward with any enthusiasm. The Portuguese had their chances too, but Australia snuffed out their attack although failed to counter to any degree.

Twenty minutes in, Head Coach Paul Brown substituted Atkins for Larkins-Law, who immediately had an impact and carried the ball forward with confidence. This seemed to be just what the Australians needed.

After a good result against Venezuala in a friendly the week before, the Pararoos were confident they could get over the Europeans. This point was almost confirmed on 26 minutes after good build up play down the left found Goodman with an open net, but unfortunately he fired over the crossbar.

As the half wore on the Pararoos had a number of chances from range through Barber and Pyne, but the Portuguese keeper, Rocha, was up to the task and once again the Australians were denied the lead. Australian goalkeeper, Chris Barty, was also on his game at the other end, denying Portugal a goal in the dying moments of the first half after a swift counter attack.

The Pararoos went into the half time break feeling confident despite the 0-0 scoreline, having held so much of the possession in the contest.

However in the second half it was the European opposition that came out firing, although once again Australia seemed capable of repelling their attacking raids and created some chances of their own. The difference being, Australia pushed forward and started to penetrate with both Barber and Atkins denied early on by Rocha.

The Australians were doing enough to turn the tide and held most of the possession in the Portuguese half.

In the 40th minute a well-executed set play from a short corner saw the ball go across the face of goal but both Barber and Kennedy were unable to convert.

Good build up play down the left enabled Australia to penetrate once again and a shot from Atkins was deflected by the keeper. The defiant Portuguese backs Silva and Vilarinho scrambling to deny Barber a tap in.

In the final moments a long range shot from Portugal was comfortably saved by Barty, but the resulting play out by the Australian backs was intercepted, leaving Pyne stranded at the back. Portugal-s Ferreira didn-t spurn his chance and fired past Barty with six minutes to go.

Unfortuantely the Pararoos couldn-t find an equaliser in the closing minutes and must now lift their heads for the next match against the Paralympic silver meadlists, Ukraine.

Speaking after the match, Pararoos Head Coach, Paul Brown, lamented his sides missed opportunities but hoped his side would quickly learn from the experience.

“The lack of intensity and fortitude cost us the match. We outplayed them and the stats show that we were the better team on the day, but they wanted the win more than us and one defensive error and our failure to capitalise early cost us,” he said.

Australia continue their campaign against Ukraine on 31 July at Zem Jaume Tabau Stadium.

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