Greece and Serbia already made their way to the quarters by finishing atop in their respective groups. The Greeks staged a brilliant third period against the Russians to clinch their third win in as many matches. The Serbs had an easier task and they delivered – despite having a game in hand they also secured their spot in the best eight and joined Croatia and Montenegro.
The big game of the day featuring Greece and Russia was quite balanced till half-time but in the third, the Greeks caught a wave, rode it and decided the game with a 5-1 rush. This great win sent them to the quarter-finals directly as they maintained their clean sheet and finished atop in Group B as they could beat both their big rivals Russia and Hungary.
Earlier the Serbs also completed their mission by beating Canada in the opening match of Day 4. Though they have a game in hand their first position has already been secured too.
The third qualifying spot was at stake in Group A when Brazil clashed with Egypt and despite some hard resistance from the Africans the favorite side could build a gap after 4-5, big enough to last till the end of the match.
The United States bounced back from their painful loss to Italy, then to Croatia and earned their first win here – it was an easy one as they netted 26 goals and set up a decisive match for the third qualifying spot against New Zealand on Day 5.
The Italians beat New Zealand with ease, they geared up after a relatively slow start to book the second place in the group – they will play either with Hungary or Russia, a guaranteed highlight in the eight-final round.
In the closing match, Hungary offered prime-time entertainment for the locals who flooded the stands once again and enjoyed the show the hosts put up on the field while setting a new single-game scoring record by netting 30 against Argentina.
Quarters: 7-2, 2-0, 5-0, 7-2
Four action goals from the Serbs in a span of 1:47 minutes put the game on the expected track early in the opening period. The Canadians tried to withstand the pressure but the small pool and the new shot clock-rules allow the teams to lead more attacks – more possessions mean more chance to score and better teams use this opportunity to net more goals like the Serbs did.
Apart from the second quarter when they could only hit twice, the Serbian offense produced a series of goals. Their defense also did a fine job by shutting out the Canadians for 14:42 minutes. During this phase, they staged a 13-0 rush (from 6-2 to 19-2) to win their third match here and securing the top spot of Group D already, with a game in hand.
Quarters: 2-7, 2-5, 1-5, 2-5
Spain didn’t waste too much time to decide the outcome of the match, took a 0-6 lead with 2:07 to go in the first period and went on dominating throughout the match. There were shorter periods when there were small breaks in scoring, like in the second period when almost four minutes ticked down the clock without a Spanish goal and another spell came in the third – still, they stopped at 22 at the end.
Quarters: 3-5, 1-2, 2-3, 2-2
The game decided the third qualifying spot in the group and even if Brazil was the favorite, the Egyptians gave everything to stay close. The South Americans jumped to a 1-4 lead deep into the opening period but Egypt came back to 3-5 with a last-gasp goal before the break.
What’s more, a penalty goal from the first possession brought them back to 4-5 and after a fine block in a man-down, the Africans had two shots to go even but missed both. And soon Brazil hit back with two goals in 44 seconds, including a fine one from the center by Mateus Stellet.
Another action goal at the beginning of the third gave the Brazilians a 4-8 lead and that seemed to be decisive. Egypt tried to climb but soon they found themselves 5-10 down with 1:46 to go in the third. Credit to the Africans that they fought on, pulled two back, trailed 7-10 with 5:56 from time but couldn’t add any more goals and Brazil secured its spot in the eight-final round.
Quarters: 5-0, 1-0, 4-1, 4-2
The difference between physical power and skills were visible as soon as the game started. The South Africans could barely get close to the goal, most of their shots were forced attempts while marked heavily. They could score their first goal in the third period when they had been 7-0 down.
Matthew Oberman netted three for the Aussies, the proud father Mark, former great of the Dolphins, watched the son from the stands and perhaps not even the rain could ruin his satisfaction.
Quarters: 3-3, 2-2, 5-1, 3-4
The first half saw an equal battle with the lead exchanging constantly between the sides. Some lucky bounces helped the attackers at both ends but neither team could gain a two-goal advantage – in fact, nothing separated them at halftime as it stood 5-5.
The third was a totally different story as the Greeks started dominating and parallel Russian defense fell apart as they committed three penalty fouls in five and a half minutes. And the Greeks used those chances to stage a 5-0 rush and decide the outcome by the end of this period.
Though the Russians netted one with one second before the end and added another with just 12 seconds into the fourth, the Greeks could put away their next-man-up for 11-7. The remaining minutes saw a classical Wild West-style showdown between Dimitrios Dimou and Ivan Vasilev, both sent one bullet after the other, but the gap didn’t change significantly.
Dimou finished the match with 5 goals while Vasilev netted 4, though the effectiveness was a bit different (which mirrored their respective teams’ scoring percentage as well): the Greek needed 6 shots to score 5 while Vasilev was 4 for 10 this afternoon.
Quarters: 1-8, 4-6, 2-5, 0-7
The Americans were a class if not two apart. The US boys opened their campaign with back-to-back defeats against Italy and Croatia so winning was a must in this match in order to set up a decisive match with New Zealand for the closing round. Scoring twice in the first 50 seconds showed that they were ready for the task and they went on demonstrating the difference between the two sides.
They took a massive 1-8 lead in the first period and never looked back: they bettered their rivals in all fields. The number of shots taken tells the story, the Uzbeks had 16 less – the quality of the shots is highlighted in the difference of the goals and the goalies’ save percentages.
The Asians’ first choice goalie had to be substituted after conceding six goals from as many shots but the incoming substitute couldn’t stop the Americans either, he could produce three catches on 23 shots. So next is New Zealand for the US guys, the 3rd qualifying spot will be at stake.
Quarters: 1-4, 3-5, 0-2, 4-4
Italy took a relatively slow start, in the middle of the second period they had a narrow 2-4 lead. Then they caught a fine spell, scored three goals in 82 seconds for 2-7 and that settled the outcome by the halftime whistle.
The third saw only two Italian goals but their defense was tight, shut out the Kiwis for the entire period and a little longer, all together for 10:50 minutes while going 4-12 up. They loosened up a bit afterward, conceded as many goals in the remaining five minutes as in the previous 27, but it didn’t count that much.
This win secured their 2nd place in the group – in the knockout phase, they will face the loser of the game Hungary v Russia which is due in the last round of the prelims.
Quarters: 7-0, 7-1, 8-0, 8-0
Hungary struggled in defense on the first two days, conceded 11 goals against China and 15 from Greece – you’ll barely find any coach who likes double digits in this field. After a day off the hosts couldn’t have found any better rival than Argentina for a game to reorganize themselves and mostly their backyard.
It was a complete success indeed, as they conceded a single goal in the entire match. Their offense also got five-star ratings from the locals who almost filled the stands and enjoyed the prime-time entertainment. With 1:39 to go the Magyars managed to better the Spaniards’ single-game scoring record (27) set against Colombia on Day 3, what’s more, they managed to reach 30, much to the delight of the crowd. Anyway, the Hungarians seemed to be ready for the last round where they meet Russia and play for the second place.