England blind team secure third place at the EUROs after dramatic penalty shootout
England men’s blind team bounced back from their semi-final heartbreak to beat Germany on penalties to finish third in the IBSA EUROs.
The Para Lions won all four matches in the 2022 IBSA Blind Football European Championships group stages but lost their semi-final against Turkey on penalties, which was also the case for Germany in their game with France.
And it was penalties which would also decide the third-place playoff as England goalkeeper Dylan Malpas saved all three spot-kicks to secure the Para Lions the bronze medal.
England enjoyed more of the possession for most of the match but had to wait until the second half to test Germany goalkeeper Sebastian Themel.
Dan English gathered the ball on the left-hand side and after some neat footwork to cut inside, sent a powerful low drive which was heading for the bottom corner, before Themel intervened with a good stop.
The contest burst into life as Para Lions goalkeeper Malpas was called into action moments later from a free-kick, before Rainbow Mbuangi then had a shot saved.
But as was the case in both semi-finals, the match went to penalties.
England’s Brandon Coleman was first to step up and his powerful spot-kick went wide of the top corner.
Germany captain Hasan Altunbas was then unable to score thanks to an incredible save from Malpas.
Dan English, whose direct running had been a threat throughout the match, gave the Para Lions the advantage with a well-taken low penalty and Taime Kuttig’s effort was then also saved by Malpas.
Azeem Amir’s penalty then went wide for England but when Malpas saved Germany’s third spot-kick with an outstretched left hand, it handed the Para Lions’ the bronze medal.
Chances became harder to come by once again but Germany’s Rasmus Narjes almost snatched a winner with three minutes of regular time remaining when he fired over the bar after a mazy run.
Speaking after the game, Malpas said: “Penalties are always going to be a lottery and as a group, we were gutted that we didn’t get through against Turkey but we bounced back together - the staff and players - to produce a performance today to give us the bronze medal.
“Our preparations for the World Championships started yesterday for us. We lost yesterday and from that moment, we started preparations for our World Cup.
“We said yesterday that is really difficult to play in a third-place, bronze-medal game and we went with the attitude that [World Championship] preparation starts now.
“We are hungrier than ever to give everything in the World Championship and get the best place possible and get ourselves to the Paralympics in 2024.”
England blind team v Germany | Full match
Watch the Para Lions' third-place playoff at the IBSA EUROs in full
France and Turkey will battle it out in the gold-medal match at 5.30pm this evening.
England: 1 Dylan Malpas, 3 Owen Bainbridge, 5 Dan English, 7 Brandon Coleman, 9 Roy Turnham
Substitutes: 8 Rainbow Mbuangi for Coleman 8’, 7 Coleman for Mbuangi 15’, 2 Liam Archer for Bainsbridge for 15', 8 Mbuangi for English 21’, 5 English for Turnham 24’, 9 Turnham for Mbuangi 27’, 4 Azeem Amir on for shootout
Substitutes not used: 13 Sam Marsden