Greece and Serbia will play in the gold-medal match at the European Men’s U17 Championships in Manisa tomorrow.
Both semifinals were very interesting and there were twists and turns.
Greece defeated Spain after a penalty shootout (14:13). Serbia was better than Hungary, which came back into the game after being 0:4 down. Still, the Hungarians couldn’t produce another comeback in the fourth quarter. The Serbs recorded a three-goal win – 12:9.
Both medal matches will be the rematches of the games played in the group stage of Division 1. Greece defeated Serbia 11:9 in Group B. Spain and Hungary shared the points (12:12) in Group A.
Greece has never won a gold medal at the European U17 Championships. Serbia has won three golds at the European Youth Championships as an independent country. The Serbian team triumphed at the previous U17 Europeans in Malta two years ago, beating Greece in the final.
Italy and Montenegro will battle for 5th place. Croatia and the Netherlands will face off in the 7th place match. Turkey finished in 9th place, beating Germany in a penalty shootout
2023 European U17 Men’s Championships, Day 6
Greece – Spain 14:13 (5:4, 0:1, 2:0,2:4, PSO 5:4)
Greece: Lykoudis 5, Kokkinos 2, Siamas 2, Karatzas 1, Kapragkos 1, Laskaridis 1, Zervoudakis 1, Mitrakis 1.
Spain: Nunez 3, Perrone 3, Gomila 2, Granados 2, Sabadell 1, Lema 1.
Greece advanced to the final after a win over Spain in an extraordinary and exciting game. After nine goals in the first eight minutes, Greece led 5:4. Spain leveled in the 11th minute. Then, a long goalless phase at both ends of the pool started. Greece’s Spyridon Lykoudis ended the silence that lasted 11:54 minutes and gave Greece a 6:5 lead from a counterattack with 99 seconds left in the third period. The Greeks added another goal before the last break.
In the 26th minute, Siamas made it 8:5. It seemed the Greeks were on the right track. However, Spain didn’t say its last word. Immediately after the Greeks’ eighth goal, Gomila converted a man-up for 6:8. In the middle of the quarter, Spain made the most of Greece’s mistakes in the attack. The Spaniards netted three unanswered goals within 70 seconds (two from counterattacks) and went ahead – 9:8. In the 30th minute, Lykoudos leveled at 9:9 with a nice lob. That was the last goal in the regular time. In the shootout, all five players of Greece found the net, Spain’s Nunez hit the post and Greece went to the final.
Hungary – Serbia 9:12 (0:3, 3:1, 3:2, 3:6)
Hungary: Balogh 5, Simon 2, A.Toth 1, Nagy 1.
Serbia: Bodiroga 3, Gladovic 3, Novakovic 2, Boskovic 2, Kojic 1, Adamovic 1.
The Hungarian national team, composed of players born in 2006 and later, won’t prolong its golden streak, which started in 2021. Two years ago, Hungary won the title of the European U15 champion. In 2022, it won gold at the World U16 Championships. This year, this Hungarian generation will battle for bronze in Manisa.
Serbia, which was 7th at the 2021 U15 Europeans and won bronze at the last year’s World U16 Championships, opened the semifinal excellently – with a 4:0 lead. Hungary recovered from an opening shock but fell in the final quarter.
Serbia scored an opening goal in its first possession and, thanks to a very good defense, controlled the match in the first quarter and a half. At the finish of the first period, the Serbs scored twice for 3:0. In the 12th minute, they stretched the margin to 4:0. That was the last wake-up alarm for the Hungarians. They got on the scoreboard after 11:39 minutes of play. Hungary narrowed the gap to three a few minutes later. Hungary had a man-up in its last possession in the first half and a chance to equalize, but Serbia’s goalkeeper Dimkovic saved a shot.
Still, Hungary kept the momentum after the middle break and continued its series of goals. It scored two goals in the first two minutes of the third period and went ahead – 5:4 (between these two goals, the Hungarians “killed” Serbia’s double man-up). But the Hungarians didn’t keep the lead for long, as Gladovic ended Serbia’s six-minute silence with an action goal for 5:5. The Serbs gained a 6:5 lead, but at the finish of the quarter, Hungary’s captain Botond Balogh leveled at 6:6. It was his 4th goal in the match.
Serbia scored three goals in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and defended with a man-down twice to jump to a 9:6 lead. That proved vital for their win, as Hungary couldn’t come back. Midway through the fourth period, Kojic converted a man-up – Serbia had a 4-goal lead for the second time (11:7). Hungary didn’t surrender. It halved the deficit (9:11). Kosta Bodiroga netted a nice action goal with 01:42 minutes to go, Serbia gained a 12:9 lead and held back Hungary’s comeback attempt.
5th – 8th place classification
Croatia – Italy 5:6 (1:0, 0:3, 2:3, 2:0)
Croatia: Jerkovic 2, Burburan 2, Prezzi 1.
Italy: Scordo 2, Varvallo 1, De Vecchis 1, Gambacciani 1, Salipante 1.
Netherlands – Montenegro 11:21 (1:5, 3:6, 4:7, 3:3)
Netherlands: Terlouw 3, Jukic 3, Oerlemans 3, De Ligny 1, Middelkamp 1.
Montenegro: Janovic 7, Gojkovic 7, Markovic 3, Matijasevic 1, Stupar 1, Petrovic 1, Perov 1.
Croatia won the first quarter in a low-scoring game against Italy. However, Italy turned the tables in the second quarter. In the third period, the young Italians earned a 3-goal lead (5:2 and 6:3). The Croats made an effort in the last eight minutes to catch up with Italy. They reduced the gap to one (5:6) with 04:23 minutes left on the clock, but nobody scored after Croatia’s fifth goal.
Unlike Italy and Croatia, Montenegro didn’t care much about defense, but it recorded a comfortable win over the Netherlands. Montenegro’s captain Strahinja Gojkovic and Srđan Janovic had the leading roles today. Each scored seven goals. Montenegro opened the match with four straight goals. At the finish of the first half, the Montenegrins went to 10:3, and the rest of the game was a formality.
Turkey – Germany 12:11 (2:2, 1:2, 3:2, 2:2, PSO 4:3)
The 9th-place match was an even contest. One team had a 2-goal lead only at the beginning. Turkey earned a 2:0 advantage, but Germany erased the deficit quickly – 2:2. The big battle continued in the following three quarters. In the end, a penalty shootout decided the winner. The Turks were calmer in the penalty thriller.
Malta – France 13:9 (3:3, 3:2, 2:1, 5:3)
Malta led for most of the match, but France didn’t let the Maltese gain a big advantage. At the finish of the third quarter, France trailed by a goal (6:7). Malta doubled its lead to 8:6 with an action goal and added three in the fourth period to secure a safe 11:6 advantage.
7th-place match: Croatia – Netherlands (16:00)
5th-place match: Italy – Montenegro (17:30)
Bronze-medal match: Spain – Hungary (19:00)
Final: Greece – Serbia (20:30)
All times are local