Portsmouth proud of run to Euro Winners Cup final
GEMMA HILLIER stated Portsmouth can be proud of their latest impressive contribution on the continent despite the pain of missing out on the trophy.
The beach soccer team charged all the way to the final of the prestigious Euro Winners Cup in Portugal.
They played exciting attacking football, scoring lots of goals during their run.
In the last match they couldn’t quite replicate that form and Russians FC Zvezda were very strong as they stifled England’s representatives to take the win 2-0.
That match left manager Perry Northeast and his team disappointed they couldn’t reach their best level.
But England beach soccer international Hillier revealed her Portsmouth team-mates can hold their heads high.
She said: ‘As hard as the final performance is to take, we know all teams had improved, so getting that far is still a great achievement.
‘We ended the tournament as top scorers, going into the final had a clean record, and won every game in all ways possible, scoring lots of goals, winning from being three goals down, and winning on penalties.
‘The Russians had clearly done their homework on how to stop us playing.
‘We knew because of their resolute mentality we couldn’t go goals down to them, and because of poor defending on both goals we did.
‘They were so strong we just didn’t have the legs to overturn the score, we deserved to lose, we didn’t turn up.’
Portsmouth’s rivals had really worked hard to catch up with the level seen by the finalists last year.
Hillier added: ‘It was obviously great to get to another final in such an important, growing competition.
‘Teams were technically better and had worked on their fitness levels which is vital in this sport.
‘In our first two group games, I think, whoever we were playing, we would have scored plenty of goals because we felt we had a point to prove after losing the final last year.
‘Our first knock-out game was against Terracina, who we beat convincingly the past two tournaments.
‘They had made a few Brazilian signings and worked hard on improving which made it a really tough match, but we got through it scoring goals at crucial times.
‘Next was Grembach. We knew we had to make sure we defended well, and we held our nerve to beat them on penalties.
‘In the semi final we played Amneville, from France, a new team to the competition, so we did not know much about them. They hit us hard scoring three goals in a matter of minutes of kick off.
‘We knew we had the ability to turn it around, only in beach soccer is that possible.
‘The third period we really did give everything, which possibly led to the detriment of our final performance.’