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Russia comeback denies Japan bronze finish, Ozu wins Golden Ball 


Asuncion: Russia came from behind to defeat Japan 5-4 to finish third at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019 on Sunday.

Portugal, meanwhile, emerged champions for the second time following their 6-4 victory over Italy in the final, while Japan captain Ozu Moreira was awarded the Golden Ball for his exceptional form throughout the tournament.

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Ozu, fresh off semi-final heartbreak where he missed his penalty kick, showed tremendous strength in the build-up to their first goal, beating Dmitry Shishin to a loose ball before setting Takuya Akaguma up to score in the fourth minute.

Russia responded with a pair of goals from Fedor Zemskov and Andrei Novikov (both eighth minute) before Akaguma (eighth) headed in his second and Ozu (12th) scored from a close-range set piece to put Japan in front by the first interval.

Takaaki Oba (23rd) and Zemskov (23rd) scored goals at the end of the second period — Zemsvok’s acrobatic overhead kick was the game’s best.

Alexey Makarov (26th) pulled off a nice piece of skill, flicking the ball over Oba before hitting the top corner to equalise for Russia early in the final period.

Zemskov (29th) completed his hat-trick, finishing from close range after Shingo Terukina spilled a shot, to lead Russia to a podium finish at Paraguay 2019, a repeat of their performance at their last World Cup at Portugal 2015.

Ozu was a fitting winner of the Golden Ball, as not only was he a defensive rock but also a serious attacking threat to any team he faced. He started his tournament off with a bang, hitting a rocket of a free-kick from almost the entire length of the pitch, and he never looked back.

An added honour for Asia was the appointment of Islamic Republic of Iran's Paria Shahriyari as the match commissioner for the final.

Sources: FIFA.com, FIFA via Getty Images

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