Goal-machine Fifo fires Portugal to glory
No.9 takes tournament tally to 21 in 4-1 final victory over Japan, as Spain cruise to bronze.
It took Ana Sofia Goncalves just eight seconds to find the back of the net for Portugal, with a move straight out of the training manual and set the tone as the Europeans defeated Japan 4-1 to claim the women’s futsal gold medal.
“It was a set-piece play we have done before,” a delighted Goncalves said. “Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m happy today the ball went in because it would have been difficult if they scored the first goal and we had to chase the game.”
Japan came into the gold-medal match on the back of an impressive 3-2 win over pre-tournament favourites Spain in the semifinal, but never recovered from that early setback.
They fell further behind nine minutes later when Carolina Rocha showed some impressive footwork to record her eighth assist of the competition and set up Goncalves’s second.
“We have been preparing for this tournament for a long time, and if I was happy before coming to Buenos Aires, I can’t even explain how I feel right now after winning the gold medal,” Rocha said.
Portugal, undefeated throughout Buenos Aires 2018, scored a total of 57 goals and conceded just five. The outstanding Fifo, as Goncalves is better known, scored 21 of those, including all four in the final.
The bronze-medal match also got off to a quick-scoring start, when Noelia de las Heras (ESP) found the net after 16 seconds for Spain against Bolivia. It was her 12th goal of the tournament and the first of 11 for Spain, who overwhelmed their willing opponents without reply.
“We suffered a very big disappointment in the semifinal against Japan,” goalscorer Marta Lopez (ESP) said. “But we knew we had to stay together, play as a unit and now I’m proud that all our efforts had their reward with this medal.”
Bolivia exceeded all expectations - including their own - by reaching the last four. “It was very difficult for us,” said No.8 Maria Cristina Galvez. “We didn’t have a lot of support and here we were playing against teams that have been training together for over two years in some cases.”