Baku, September 17, AZERTAC
The absence of London 2012 gold medallists Russia left Ukraine, world and European champions and runners-up four years ago, as strong favourites for the title in Rio. And they delivered with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Iran in the final of the football 7-a-side competition. Goals from Volodymyr Antoniuk and Artem Krasylnykov at the Deodoro Stadium on Friday helped their team win a third Paralympic gold medal in the sport, while Iran's silver represents their best Games performance, having won bronze at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 editions.
Hosts Brazil, runners-up in Athens in 2004, finished in third place after beating Netherlands 3-1 in the bronze medal match.
Ukraine's route to gold included a thumping 6-0 victory over Ireland in the group stage of the competition, in which they also beat Brazil and fifth-placed Great Britain convincingly.
Both semi-finals were one-sided and featured plenty of goals, as Iran hammered Brazil 5-0 while Ukraine beat Netherlands 4-0, after which Taras Dutko, who now has five Paralympic medals including three golds, was clear on why his team are successful. "It is just a lot of work. Every day, every week, every month. We do it for ourselves, for our team and for our country," he said. The other two teams in the tournament, Argentina and USA, finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively, with Ireland eighth.