The opening day of the European Men’s U19 Championships in Podgorica didn’t produce thrilling encounters.
All favorites recorded convincing victories.
Some of the powerhouses struggled at the beginning of their matches, like Spain, which was three goals down in the match against Malta. Still, the Spaniards secured a convincing win in the final eight minutes. There were no unexpected outcomes.
Hungary recorded the biggest win of the day. The Hungarians ran over Turkey 25:2. The narrowest margin in today’s encounter was six goals. Spain beat Malta 15:9. The duel in which Serbia defeated Germany produced the same score.
Interestingly, all eight teams that wore white caps beat their opponents today.
After a day of one-sided contests, some exciting matches are in sight. The second day will bring several derby games that will probably be decisive in battles for top spots in the four groups. Follow the live scores on Total Waterpolo Arena.
Day 1, results – Group A: Spain – Malta 15:9, Netherlands – Czech Republic 17:5, Group B: Croatia – Georgia 20:6, Italy – Slovakia 14:7, Group C: Greece – Romania 14:5, Serbia – Germany 15:9. Group D: Hungary – Turkey 25:2, Montenegro – France 14:5
Before the last match of the day, Montenegro-France, Djuro Maric, the Montenegrin Water Polo Federation President, officially opened the Championships, welcomed all the guests and wished a good luck to all participants.
Spain – Malta 15:9 (1:2, 4:3, 4:4, 6:1)
Spain opened the tournament with a win, as expected. The Spaniards didn’t start well in the first game of the morning program (the game began at 9:00). They needed some time to wake up. Malta led 2:0, and Spain got on the scoreboard in the 8th minute. The Maltese earned a 3-goal advantage in the middle of the second period (4:1). After that, Spain started taking control and leveled at 4:4 and 5:5. Still, Malta regained a lead early in the second half (6:5, 7:6). Then, the Spaniards stepped up, and scored three goals in a row to go to 9:7.
Malta didn’t surrender and leveled at 9:9 in the 25th minute. However, Spain scored the last six goals in the match and recorded a convincing 15:9 victory.
Spain’s power engines were Abel Ramon Sesen and Marc Valls Ferrer. Each netted five goals, but Ramon had a far better percentage of shots (5/6). Fenech Alec scored four goals for Malta.
Netherlands – Czech Republic 17:5 (5:2, 6:1, 3:1, 3:1)
The Dutch opened the match with a 5:0 blast, and that put them on the right track. The Czech Republic scored two back-to-back goals at the finish of the first quarter, but it couldn’t stop the Dutch’s scoring machine. The Netherlands netted six goals in the first five minutes of the second quarter, jumped to an 11:2 lead, and it was clear that it would record a big win.
The difference in the number of shots proves the difference in quality. The Dutch scored 17 goals from 35 attempts. The Czechs had only 16 shots. Lars ten Broek and Mart van der Weijden led the Dutch with four goals each.
Day 2: Czech Republic – Malta (13:00), Spain – Netherlands (17:40)
Croatia – Georgia 20:6 (4:2, 7:1,4:1, 5:2)
Georgia kept up with Croatia only in the opening minutes. The sides were tied at 2:2 in the fourth minute. Two and a half minutes after, Noa Burburan converted a man-up and opened the Croats’ 6:0 series. The favorite went to 8:2 by the middle of the second quarter. At halftime, Croatia was 11:3 up and cruised to a big win.
The Croats were favorites, but they entered the match carefully. They had a good reason because Georgia beat Croatia at the U15 European Championships three years ago (the competition for almost the same generation that play in Podgorica).
But, today’s game lacked excitement. Croatia dominated. All players of the winning team got on the scoresheet. Ljepava, Busic and Radic contributed to the victory with three goals each.
Italy – Slovakia 14:7 (4:1, 4:3, 3:2, 3:1)
Slovakia scored the first goal in the game. However, Italy responded with a 6:0 rush to prove who the favorite was. Still, the Slovaks didn’t carry a white flag. They fought hard and did everything to come back. The Slovaks reduced the gap to three goals (3:6). Four goals separated the rivals at the middle break (8:4). The second half was balanced until 10:6. Afterward, Italy took control, scored four unanswered goals. The „Settebello“ earned a 14:6 advantage midway through the fourth period. In the remaining time, the persistent Slovaks scored only a consolation goal.
Francesco Condemi, who played for Italy at the senior Europeans in Split, was the man of the match. He scored six goals.
Day 2: Slovakia – Georgia (9:00), Croatia – Italy (15:00)
Greece – Romania 14:5 (5:3, 3:2,3:0, 3:0)
The game was interesting for almost two quarters, but the encounter turned into a one-man show after the middle break. The Romanians went ahead just once (3:2). Greece responded with three goals and entered the second quarter leading 5:3. But, Romania didn’t give in. It trailed by a goal (5:6) in the 7th minute. The Greeks extended their lead to three (8:5), and after the middle break, a one-man show started. Olympiacos’ Nikolaos Gkillas scored three unanswered goals in the third period. He added two in the final eight minutes, while his teammate Pouros scored one, and Greece collected the points with a 14:5 victory.
Gkillas scored eight goals today (8/12), Evangelos Pouros found the net four times (4/6). Greece’s goalkeeper Nektarios Iliopoulos discouraged Romania’s attack by posting 18 saves!
Sometimes, the statistics don’t mirror the real difference in quality between two teams. Today, Romania had 36 attempts to score, seven more than the Greeks. However, Greece was a much better rival, and Romania’s poor percentage of shots isn’t only the result of Greece’s good defense, commanded by Iliopouos. The Romanians made a lot of mistakes in the attack and helped Greece’s defense.
Serbia – Germany 15:9 (3:1, 4:2, 3:2, 5:4)
The Serbs led from the beginning. The Germans leveled just once – at 1:1. Still, Serbia answered with five goals and earned a 6:1 lead at the finish of the first half. The Germans came close after Sekulic converted a penalty for 4:7 in the 17th minute. However, Serbia didn’t let the rival go further. The Serbs produced a 3:0 run. They jumped to a 10:4 lead (22nd minute) and maintained the difference until the end. Midway through the fourth quarter, Germany reduced the gap to four goals (8:12) but didn’t endanger Serbia’s victory.
Serbia’s captain Vasilije Martinovic, who scored four goals, was the player of the match.
Day 2: Germany – Romania (10:20), Greece – Serbia (16:20)
Hungary – Turkey 25:2 (8:0, 1:1, 6:0, 10:1)
The final score says all. Hungary, which played without Erik Molnar, the silver medalist from the Split Championships, was too strong for the Turks.
After a 8:0 first quarter, the Hungarians slowed. They started missing chances and losing the balls in the attack. However, they went to 9:0 in the 13th minute when Vince Vigvari scored from a distance for 9:0. Shortly after, Alpam put the Turks on the scoreboard. In the third period, the Hungarians refound their rhythm from the first quarter. In the final eight minutes, they knocked down Turkey with a series of goals from counter-attacks.
Vince Vigvari was unstoppable. He found the net five times from six attempts.
Montenegro – France 14:5 (4:0, 2:2, 3:0,5:3)
Montenegro dominated the first quarter. The hosts earned a 4:0 lead quickly, and that opening set the tone of the match.
France started climbing back after the first break. The French halved the deficit (2:4). But, Matija Sladovic converted two man-ups in the last two and a half minutes of the 2nd quarter and Montenegro regained a 4-goal lead (6:2). The home side scored three goals in a row in the third period. Sladovic continued the series by converting a penalty in the 25th minute – 10:2. Montenegro reached a double-digit advantage twice (13:3 and 14:4), but the French scored the last goal in the match.
France scored five goals, just as Montenegro’s Matija Sladovic, the best scorer of the game.
Day 2: Turkey – France (11:40), Montenegro – Hungary (19:00)