The 34th European Championships for men has started in Budapest this morning.
After 12 one-sided matches on the first two days of the female tournament, the water polo fans in Budapest finally enjoyed a close battle.
The male tournament was opened by the encounter between the Netherlands and Romania. After a lot of twists and turns, the Dutch recorded a 9:8 narrow win.
Other games of today’s morning/afternoon session offered the same storyline: a favorite had a slow start, but it recorded a convincing win.
The male tournament, Day 1 (morning/afternoon session)
Group A: Slovakia – Montenegro 4:15, Germany – Croatia 9:17
Group B: Romania – Netherlands 8:9
Group C: Malta – Spain 7:23
Germany – Croatia 9:17 (2:1, 2:6, 1:6, 4:4)
Germany: Restovic 3, Reibel 2, Juengling 2, Real 1, Strelezkij 1.
Croatia: Lovre 3, Vrlic 2, Buslje 2, Vukicevic 2, Bukic 2, Fatovic 2, Macan 1, Loncar 1, Jokovic 1, Benic 1.
Extra player shot: Germany 5/8, Croatia 5/9. Penalty shots: Croatia 1/1.
Croatia left behind the bad memories of their previous match against Germany. Last year, at the World Championships, the Croats had defeated Germany 10:8 in a very though quarterfinal match.
Today, Croatia posted an easier win, although the Germans started better. The Germans had 1:0, 2:1 and 3:2 lead before the Croats netted three straight goals to go 5:3 up. Germany’s captain Real cut the deficit (4:5), but the Croats converted two man-ups in the last 63 seconds of the first half and led 7:4 at halftime. After the middle break, the match turned into a festival of goals. The Croats entered the last period with a 13:5 lead and maintained the distance until the end. In the last attack, they organized 7 on 6 attack (goalkeeper Marko Bijac joined his teammates in front of Germany’s goal), but the Germans managed to save their net.
Slovakia – Montenegro 4:15 (2:1, 0:6, 1:4, 1:4)
Slovakia: Maros Tkac 1, Marek Tkac 1, Zatovic 1, Kolarik 1.
Montenegro: Ivovic 4, Draskovic 3, Dr. Brguljan 2, Dj. Radovic 2, Pjesivac 1, Vidovic 1, Cuckovic 1, Petkovic 1.
Extra player shot: Slovakia 0/3, Montenegro 2/7. Penalty shots: Slovakia 0/1, Montenegro 2/2
The Montenegrins needed some time to find their rhythm. Slovakia was leading 1:0 and 2:1 in the first quarter. Montenegro took control in the second quarter and scored seven goals in a row to earn an 8:2 advantage early in the third quarter. Montenegro’s captain Aleksandar Ivovic, the best scorer of the 2019 World Championships, led his team to a 15:4 victory, with four goals.
Romania – Netherlands 8:9 (2:2, 2:3, 4:1, 0:3)
Romania: Gheorghe 2, Prioteasa 2. Antipa 1, Georgescu 1, Fulea 1, Radu 1.
Netherlands: Winkelhorst 3, Van Ijperen 2, , Nispeling 1, Muller 1, Janssen 1, Lucas 1.
Extra player shot: Romania 2/6, Netherlands 4/11. Penalty shots: Romania 2/2, Netherlands 2/2.
The Netherlands earned important points after a lot of excitement. Romania started better and took a 2:1 advantage in the 5th minute. But, the Netherlands turned around the deficit to a 5:3 lead by the middle of the second quarter. Romania’s Vlad Georgescu opened the second half with a goal from a penalty shot to equalize -5:5. Quickly after that, Van Ijperen responded in the same manner, he converted a penalty shot to put the Dutch ahead again (6:5).
However, the Romanians dominated the following minutes and entered the last period with an 8:6 lead. But, the Dutch were able to come back. Muller leveled the score (8:8) in the 28th minute, while Van Ijperen converted a man-up for 8:9 with two minutes and 14 seconds remaining on the clock. The Romanians had good chances to secure a point, but they missed an extra player shoot 37 seconds before the end. After the Dutch’s unsuccessful attack, Romania had the last 15 seconds to equalize, but they lost the ball five seconds from the final buzzer, and the Dutch collected valuable points.
Serbia – Russia (evening session)
Malta – Spain 7:23 (3:4, 2:6, 0:7, 2:6)
Malta: Camilleri 3, M. Zammit 2, Abela, D. Zammit 1.
Spain: Munarriz 5, Tahull 4, Perrone 3, Granados 3, Larumbe 2, Fernandez 2, Sanahuja 1, Delgado 1, Mallarach 1, Bustos 1.
Extra player shot: Malta 3/6, Spain 5/7. Penalty shots: Malta 0/1, Spain 2/2.
The Maltese fought bravely in the first quarter. They weren’t in front, but they leveled the score three times (1:1, 2:2, 3:3). Still, Spain had a minimal 4:3 advantage after the first period, as Munarriz hit the back of the net from a penalty six seconds before the first break. Spain dominated from the second quarter and, as expected, cruised to a huge 23:7 win.
Two years ago, at the 33rd European Championships these two sides, also, faced off in the group stage when Spain celebrated a 21:4 victory.
Hungary – Turkey (evening session)
Italy – Greece (evening session)
France – Georgia (evening session)