El Salvador's Agustin Ruiz (pictured) celebrates after scoring in a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup match against the Solomon Islands on September 23, 2013, in Papeete, Tahiti. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
PAPEETE, Tahiti – Agustin Ruiz struck for five goals in a spectacular individual performance at To’ata Stadium on Monday, lifting El Salvador to a 7-6 victory over the Solomon Islands and into the quarterfinals of the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
For a second straight competition, the Salvadorans clinched a berth in the knockout stage on the final day of the group stage. A semifinalist in 2011, El Salvador will next meet either host Tahiti or Spain on Wednesday.
Ruiz, who scored twice in a 5-1 win over the Netherlands on Saturday, had a first-period brace to put El Salvador in front, 2-0, in the winner-take-all Group B match.
After McPhilip Aisa pulled the Solomon Islands within a goal, Ruiz added his third early in the second period.
Nicholas Muri tried to equal Ruiz’s heroics and move the Solomon Islands into the knockout stage for the first time. He struck for a treble in the second period to tie the match at 4-4 entering the decisive third period.
But Frank Velasquez and Elmer Robles netted back-to-back goals to put El Salvador in front, 6-4.
Anthony Talo pulled Solomon Islands to within one with a penalty kick, but Ruiz netted his fifth goal less than two minutes later and El Salvador held on, despite a late goal by Robert Laua.