Mario Chimienti of the United States and Spain's Cintas (left) challenge for the ball during their 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup match at Tahua To'ata Stadium on September 19, 2013, in Papeete, Tahiti. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
PAPEETE, Tahiti – In a battle of CONCACAF and European champions, the United States wasn’t able to maintain a two-goal lead and fell to Spain, 5-4, in the Group A opener for both teams in the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup at To’ata Stadium on Thursday.
Spanish team captain Nico struck for the winner in the penultimate minute.
The U.S., making its first World Cup appearance since 2007, jumped in front on a seventh minute goal by Ray Futagaki, but Antonio equalized three minutes later with the first of his two tallies.
Nick Perera, who scored 11 goals in CONCACAF qualifying, headed home in the 12th minute to give the Americans a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.
A free kick from Mario Chimenti made it 3-1 three minutes into the second period, but Llorenc pulled Spain within a goal in the second period four minutes later and Antonio leveled with a brilliant overhead kick midway through the third.
In the 32nd minute, a side-volley from Lewie Valentine put the United States in front, 4-3, only for Juanma to knot the score within three seconds, setting the stage Nico’s heroics.
The United States will look to bounce back on Saturday against host Tahiti, which got its tournament off to a bright start with a 3-2 win over the United Arab Emirates.