Two eight-final spots remained open for the last day and the decisive matches brought huge fights. The US team showed some tremendous defending while beating New Zealand 7-3 to book the first spot.
The second went to Colombia after they showed some brilliant water polo in the fourth period to beat Canada 10-6 and earn one of the biggest success of their nation in major water polo events. Before the last day of the prelims, the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee took a historic decision as they applied a one-game suspension for brutality after a video review.
Day 4 didn’t end with last game – the FINA TWPC delegates reviewed the video footage of the game between Greece and Russia as there were some embarrassing moments in the dying seconds. The referees red-carded one player apiece, however, the delegate of the match initiated a video review, a new possibility offered by the rules under testing here in Szombathely. The officials found enough evidence to penalize Russia’s Valeriy Pelikh for brutality and handed him a one-game suspension.
“We want to send a strong message for the water polo community that even if a brutal move remains unnoticed in the heat of the moment, no one can escape punishment if the video review offers strong evidence” – FINA TWPC Chairman Lolo Ibern commented the historical decision as this is the first time ever that a player is banned for a game based on post-match review.
Day 5 was kicked off by a thrilling game played for the second place in Group A. Australia led by two in the fourth but Brazil could tie the game with 1:59 to go and had a man-up to win it but missed it and the draw favoured Australia who will have a seemingly easier task on the following day while Brazil faces Spain in the eighth-finals.
The games for the remaining two qualifying berths produced intense fights but both ended in fine 4-goal wins for the US and Colombia. Great defending put the US team through as they limited New Zealand to 3 goals – two of those came from penalties, one from the center, the Kiwis could score a single goal in the last three periods and were denied in all 9 of their man-ups.
Canada had a short good spell when they came back to 4-4 after trailing by two goals against Colombia but the game was dominated by the South Americans. With some brilliant shots from Simon Gonzalez – who netted 4 goals, 3 in the last period – they staged a 4-0 rush in the fourth period which secured their qualification.
The four group-winners – each had secured the respective top spots before the last days in the prelims –, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece, and Serbia all earned easy wins before they start their long preparations for the quarters (top-ranked sides have a bye in the eight-final round tomorrow).
The session ending match saw another brilliant battle. Though the Russians seemed to have more control of the game and managed to respond immediately whenever the Hungarians climbed back.
However, the hosts staged a great comeback at the end and scored twice in 46 seconds for 9-9. Russia had the last man-up but missed it and the Magyars kept the ball to save the draw which put them to the second place as both teams lost by three goals to Greece but Hungary netted more goals (12-15 v 10-13). This sets up two great games for the eight-finals: Hungary v USA and Russia v Italy.
Quarters: 2-1, 1-3, 2-2, 3-2
They played for the second place in the group and to have a seemingly easier task in the first round of the knockout phase. While the third-placed side was supposed to face Spain, booking the second position would set up a match against either Canada or Colombia (they played later in the day).
Brazil had a better start and gained a 2-0 lead but the Aussies halved the margin through a man-up goal by Harry Molnar. Deep into the second, they went 2-3 up, netting two action goals in 45sec. With 3:05 before the middle break Italo Vizacre buried a penalty for Brazil, to halt their scoreless period of 8:51 minutes.
Still, the Aussies led at halftime as Reilly Townsend sent the ball home from a 6 on 5 47 seconds before the break though they missed their next one-half minutes later. That hit back in the third when Thomas Borges scored a fine one from the center in the third. The next missed Aussie man-up didn’t result in more serious consequences as Christian Kyriakou scored an action goal and after killing a Brazil man-up the young Dolphins were 4-6 up as Townsend scored again.
Brazil climbed back with a man-up goal and the quarter ended the same way as the previous one, with a missed 6 on 5 by the Aussies. But it continued differently as Match Robinson could put away the next-man-up in the fourth for 5-7. Soon they had another one to go +3 but Robinson couldn’t make this and Pedro Zwicker pulled one back from an extra with 4:21 to go.
Joshua Collins gave back the two-goal lead for the boys from Down Under, the 6 on 5 worked again, but 25 seconds later Lucas Farias replied with an action goal with exactly three minutes remaining. And a minute later it was equal, Thiago Ferreira scored from a man-up and in the last minute, the victory was in his hand as Brazil earned a last extra 25 seconds from time but Ferreira’s ball was stopped by Max Fodor and that save secured the second place for Australia.
Quarters: 1-6, 0-4, 2-6, 1-5
The difference between the depth of the teams and the quality of the players are mirrored by the stats: Montenegro took 34 shots and limited the Egyptians to 18 – shots reaching the goal was 26 to 10. Also, five of the African players didn’t take a single shot and two more had only one – and they missed all seven man-ups they earned.
Quarters: 3-0, 5-2, 7-2, 3-2
Another match where shot-making clearly showed the difference: while Greece had 35 shots, China was limited to 14, the lowest number in the entire prelims. Credit to the Chinese that they could net 6 goals from the 8 shots which were on target. Still, they couldn’t avoid of being defeated with a bigger difference than Argentina had lost to Greece (3-13). Since the Chinese drew with the South Americans, the result achieved against the group’s highest ranked team decided the ranks and by losing with 12 goals China had to settle for the bottom position.
Quarters: 1-2, 3-0, 2-1, 1-0
The first crucial duel of the day decided the third spot in the group, thus the qualification for the eighth-finals. Though the US team was considered the favorite, they struggled at the beginning despite taking the lead early from a penalty. Soon the Kiwis equalized from a penalty and added a fine goal from the center by Louis Clark while the Americans missed two man-ups before the first break.
The next-man-up was also gone in the second before Hannes Daube could finally score from an extra and that also ended the US drought lasting 10:50 minutes. What’s more, that goal let the US boys fly as they added two more in 80 seconds to gain a 4-2 lead by halftime.
The third period started with a penalty, Molthen Ashworth buried that as well for 5-2 while the New Zealanders struggled in the offense. They could net a penalty to break their silence having lasted for 11:48 minutes but the US reply arrived immediately as Daube scored from a 6 on 5. The Kiwis could have come close once more but missed two 6 on 5s in back-to-back positions.
And this trend went on in the fourth. The Americans didn’t shine either but enjoying a three-goal lead they didn’t need to. New Zealand missed further three man-ups in the last period – indeed they missed all nine they earned, could score a single penalty goal in the last three periods, not really the way to win big matches.
Quarters: 1-6, 1-4, 2-5, 2-7
Croatia enjoyed a kind of practice match before going for a day off to gear up for the quarter-finals. The shots on target were 31 to 12, a kind of demonstration of the differences in all fields between the two sides.
Quarters: 1-2, 2-2, 1-2, 2-5
The second decisive match on qualification was a tense encounter – based on the results at senior level the Canadians might be considered favorites but Colombia turned out to be the better team in the age-group. Simon Gonzalez’s penalty gave the lead for the Colombians, the Canadians needed seven minutes to get on the scoreboard, a fine action shot from Davis Garrett brought them back to even.
Colombia took back the lead 17 seconds before the break, Juan Orozco netted a 6 on 5. Soon he added one more for 1-3 and he scored his third in the middle of the second for 2-4. Canada couldn’t really set up fine scoring chances, though Sandro Miletic could finally put away a man-up with 0:24 to go till the big break to halve their deficit (3-4).
And in the third, the Canadians managed to level the score with a penalty to launch a decisive phase of the match. At 4-4 both sides had numerous chances to go ahead, the Colombians missed three man-up in a row, then Canada had two shots in a 6 on 5 but neither one made its way to the net. And that cost them dearly: Colombia buried a penalty with 31 seconds from time in the third, at 0:16 Canada earned a man-up, they missed the quick shot and with 0:01 on the clock Sebastian Rendon scored a great action goal for a 4-6 lead.
Nicholas Serediuc opened the fourth with a goal for 5-6 but missed his next shot and Julian Roldan netted a brilliant goal from the center, despite guarded by four defenders. And in 43 seconds Simon Gonzalez launched his one-man show: he scored three goals in a row while the Canadians lost their composure at both ends. The 0-4 rush (2-6 after 4-4) secured the Colombians’ spot in the eight-finals while the Canadians could only play for the lower ranks in the second part of the tournament.
Quarters: 7-1, 8-0, 6-3, 5-1
The Serbs didn’t apply their usual tight defense and let some room for the Saudis to take shots which the rival used to make 32 shots, though only 18 reached the target and 6 made it to the back of the net. At the same time, the Serbs scored with ease in front to obtain their fourth win here.
Quarters: 1-2, 3-2, 2-1, 3-4
They clashed for the second place which set up a knockout match against the USA while the third place meant an encounter with Italy. The Hungarians had a better start, with a fine man-up goal and a late great counter gave them a 1-2 lead as they limited the Russians to a penalty goal in the first eight minutes. Oliver Fodor then netted a lucky one from the center for 1-3 and to the pleasure of the capacity crowd.
The Russians pulled one back soon but missed their next extra, then Daniil Frolov hit the post from a penalty. The Magyars also struggled to the put the ball away in front, wasted two 6 on 5s – between the two Frolov managed to equalize with an action goal. Soon Gergo Fekete broke his team’s silence after 5:35 minutes, it was a big center-shot again but Nikita Volkov also scored an action goal for 4-4.
More than four minutes gone without a goal (and any exclusion) in the third before the Russians netted two in a span of 49 seconds, both from the action. The hosts managed to pull one back by netting the period’s only 6 on 5 and Benedek Baksa scored his second from a dying man-up early in the fourth to level the score at 6-6. The spectators’ happiness didn’t last too long, 12 seconds later a brilliant shot from Ivan Vasilev gave back the lead for the Russians, and two minutes later the same happened, Gergo Fekete equalized from a 6 on 5 but Nikita Mikhalov also netted an extra 31sec later.
Hungary missed its next extra and when Vasilev sent the ball home for 9-7, the home side seemed to be in trouble, especially after another missed 6 on 5. Still, they fought hard, Botond Bobis could find the back of the net 1:35 from time and 49sec before the end Akos Vekony also converted a man-up for 9-9.
Russia had a chance, though, to win the game but Frolov’s shot went wide in a 6 on 5 (after a time-out) so the game ended in a 9-9 draw. That favored the Hungarians as they scored more goals (12-15) against the top-ranked Greek team while losing with the same margin as the Russians did yesterday (10-13).