A series of extremely exciting matches at the European U17 Championships in Malta has continued.
Today, the quarterfinal games were played. Almost each of the four matches was an even contest in which everything was open until the very end. Spain, Serbia, Hungary, and Greece advanced to the semifinals.
Serbia edged out the Netherlands (11:10). Italy, the champion from Baku in 2019, and Spain, the runner-up from the previous Championships, faced off in a replay of the 2019 final. This time, Spain was better and celebrated a win after a penalty shootout (14:13). Greece defeated Montenegro narrowly (12:11).
Unlike Serbia, Spain and Greece, Hungary avoided a thrilling finish. The Hungarians, the bronze medalists in Baku, recorded a convincing 10:4 victory over Croatia.
Semifinals (September 17): Serbia – Hungary, Spain – Greece
To remind, the same four nations played in the semifinals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where Serbia took gold, Greece finished in 2nd place, and Hungary won bronze ahead of Spain.
Netherlands – Serbia 10:11 (1:1, 2:1, 2:4, 5:5)
Netherlands:Snel 3, Wouters 2, Ten Broek 2, Harreman 1, Voorvelt 1, Wugers 1.
Serbia:Musikic 3, Urosevic 2, Kovacevic 2, Dimitrijevic 1, Kojic 1, Bozovic 1, Fustic 1.
The Netherlands played very well at the Championships in Malta. The Dutch team proved that it could be an equal opponent to water polo powerhouses. Still, the Dutch didn’t reach the semifinals. The Serbs were calmer and more concentrated in the crucial moments and earned a spot in the semis.
Serbia scored an opening goal, but the Netherlands dictated the pace for more than two quarters and a half. In the 18th minute, the Dutch were two goals ahead of Serbia (4:2). Between 21st and 24th minute, the Serbs netted three straight goals to turn around the two-goal deficit to a 5:4 lead. Before the final quarter, Serbia had a slim 6:5 advantage.
The Netherlands equalized twice in the early stage of the fourth quarter (6:6 and 7:7). Midway through this quarter, the Serbs earned a two-goal lead for the first time (9:7), and the Dutch couldn’t equalize anymore, but they fought bravely until the end. Serbia’s Bozovic scored from a distance for 11:9 with 55 seconds remaining on the clock. Just 21 seconds from the end, the Dutch halved the deficit (10:11), but it was too late. Serbia kept the win and a spot in the semis. On the other side, the juniors from the Netherlands shouldn’t be disappointed. This generation has a bright future.
Italy – Spain 13:14 (1:3, 2:2, 4:1, 3:4, PSO 3:4)
Italy: Serino 3 (1 in PSO), Cammarota 2 (1), Dellacasa 2, Mancini 2, Provenziani 1 (1), Urbinati 1, Agnolet 1, Bragantini 1.
Spain: Castro 3 (1), Lopez 3 (1), Ibanez 2, Perez 2, De La Cruz 1 (1), Otero 1, Frigola 1, Gil 1 (1).
Italy qualified for the quarterfinals after a thrilling match and a penalty shootout win over Russia yesterday. Today’s encounter between Italy and Spain was very similar to yesterday’s game. However, Italy was a team that was closer to a victory in a regular time today, but it suffered a loss at the end of the thriller.
Spain got off to a great start and earned a 3:0 lead. The Spaniards maintained a 3-goal lead for a while, but Italy was coming back. In the middle of the third period, Spain had a 2-goal advantage (6:4). Then, Italy took control and went ahead (7:6) before the last eight minutes. The fourth period was a “tit for tat” battle. Spain leveled at 7:7, 8:8, 9:9, but Italy responded shortly after these three goals. Still, Italy had no response after Castro found the net for 10:10 with 67 seconds to go, and the drama was continued in the penalty shootout.
The Spaniards had stronger nerves in the shootout and will battle for medals. Italy, the reigning champion, will leave Malta empty-handed.
Croatia – Hungary 4:10 (1:2, 0:3, 2:2, 1:3)
Croatia: Mozara 2, Jankovic 2.
Hungary: Nagy 3, Bede 2, Szalai 2, Szepgalvi 1, Gaszt 1, Szecsi 1.
Hungary defeated Croatia easier than expected and stormed to the semifinals. A minute before the end of the first quarter, the sides were tied at 1:1. Bede opened Hungary’s series of goals in the 8th minute for 2:1. The Hungarians kept the neighbors scoreless in the second period, to enter the second half with a comfortable 5:1 lead. The Hungarians controlled the match, and Croatia, which played its worst game at the tournament, couldn’t endanger their victory.
Greece – Montenegro 12:11 (2:2, 3:3, 4:6, 3:0)
Greece:Almyras 3, Mathiopoulos 3, Spachits 3, Kastrinakis 1, Bitsakos 1, Kandaneleon 1.
Montenegro: bastrica 3, Vukicevic 2, Vuckovic 1, Boskovic 1, B. Krivokapic 1, Janovic 1, Vukicevic 1, D. Krivokapic 1.
The duel between Montenegro and Greece was a neck-and-neck race in the first two periods. There were a lot of turns, but the difference was never larger than a goal. At halftime, the score was 5:5. Greece had an 8:7 advantage in the middle of the third quarter, but Montenegro produced a 4:0 rush shortly after. A minute and 36 seconds before the last break, Montenegro’s Bastrica netted a nice backhander for 10:8 and two goals separated the rivals for the first time. Vukicevic stretched the margin to three (11:8), but Greece reduced the gap in the 24th minute (9:11).
After just 25 seconds of play in the final quarter, Greece came even closer (10:11). There were no goals in the following five minutes. Greece’s captain Andreas Almyras broke the silence in the 30th minute and leveled at 11:11. Montenegro had a double man-up in its next possession, but they failed to convert the chance and paid for that immediately. Almyras scored his 3rd goal and put the Greeks in front (12:11) with a minute and 28 seconds to go. Montenegro wasn’t able to level the score. Greece reached the semifinals of the European U17 Championship for the second time in a row. Two years ago, Greece was 4th in Baku.
Germany – Georgia 11:9 (3:2, 1:1, 3:3, 4:3)
Germany:Mancini 3, Hofmann 2, Wolf 2, Grosse 1, Taubert 1, Wiegmann 1, Rehm 1.
Georgia: Akhvlediani 5, Kirikidi 2, Chikovani 1,Kozashvili 1.
Russia – Romania 17:8 (4:5, 2:1, 3:1, 8:1)
Russia:Kravchenko 6, Alekseev 3, Ziuzin 2, Emtsev 2, Golubkov 1, Shifrin 1, Kvasov 1, Pankin 1.
Romania: Neamtu 3, Teodorescu 2, Sachetti 2, Orsos 1.
Germany and Russia will play for 9th place.
Semifinals (5th – 8th place)
Netherlands – Croatia (15:00)
Italy – Montenegro (16:30)
Semifinals (1st – 4th place)
Serbia – Hungary (18:00)
Spain – Greece (19:30)