There were no surprises in the last round of the group stage at the Men’s World League Super Final in Tbilisi.
Italy defeated France (14:7) to cement 1st place in Group A. Greece easily beat Kazakhstan (14:9).
Montenegro, which secured 1st place in Group B yesterday, closed the group stage with a victory over Japan (16:9). Team USA was better than host Georgia (13:9) and kept 2nd place.
Day 3 – Group A: Greece – Kazakhstan 14:9, France – Italy 7:14. Group B: USA – Georgia 13:9, Montenegro – Japan 16:9
Day 4 – Quarterfinals – 14:45: France (3A) – USA (2B), 16:30: Greece (2A) – Georgia (3B), 18:15: Italy (1A) – Japan (4B), 20:00: Kazakhstan (4A) – Montenegro (1B).
France – Italy 7:14 (1:4, 4:4, 0:3, 2:3)
France: Bouet 3, Marion Vernoux 2, Vernoux 1, Canonne 1.
Italy:Velotto 3, Luongo 2, Echenique 2, Presciutti 2, Alesiani 1, Di Fulvio 1, FIglioli 1, FIgari 1, Dolce 1.
Extra player shots: France 5/9, Italy 7/10.
Italy had ups and downs but recorded a convincing win over France. The World champions got off to an excellent start. France scored the first goal in the match, but Italy scored five goals in a row after that and turned around the deficit to a 5:1 lead. However, France managed to come back. The French produced a 4:1 rush in 148 seconds and reduced the gap to 5:6 (14th minute).
Still, Italy retook control late into this quarter. The World champions scored two goals in the last two minutes of the first half and entered the third period leading 8:5.
Italy’s defense was superb, except in the 2nd quarter. First goalkeeper Marco Del Lungo didn’t play and was replaced by Gianmarco Nicosia, who did a good job. The offense worked well, and Italy earned a 12:5 lead in the 26th minute. The “Settebello” kept France goalless for more than 15 minutes. France’s first goal in the second half came three minutes and three seconds before the end when Marion Vernoux hit the back of the net for 6:12. But, it was too late for a comeback.
Greece – Kazakhstan 14:9 (3:1, 5:3, 3:4, 3:1)
Greece: Fountoulis 3, Dervisis 3, Genidounias 2, Argyropoulos 2, Gkiouvetsis 2, Nikolaidis 1, Gouvis 1.
Kazakhstan: Vuksanovic 4, Shakenov 2, Ruday 2, Ukumanov 1.
Extra player shots: Greece 8/14, Kazakhstan 2/5. Penalty shots: Greece 2/3, Kazakhstan 2/2.
Kazakhstan scored the opening goal, but the Greeks responded with four and had a 4:1 advantage in the 10th minute. Shots with an extra player were Greece’s main weapon in the first half. They converted five of seven man-ups in the first two quarters, and that made the difference. The Europeans earned an 8:4 advantage before the middle break.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Genidounias converted a man-up by sending the ball into an unguarded net (goalkeeper Makhametov was excluded). Fountoulis added an action goal, and the Greeks stretched the margin to eight (10:4). The Asians didn’t surrender, but they weren’t able to come back. Greece’s win was never in danger.
1 Italy 3 – 9
2 Greece 3 – 6
3 France 3 – 3
4 Kazakhstan 3 – 0
USA – Georgia 13:9 (3:1, 5:2, 2:3, 3:3)
USA: Daube 3, Irving 3, Obert 2, Bowen 2, Stevenson 1, Hallock 1, Woodhead 1.
Georgia: Jelaca 3, Vapenski 2, Imnaishvili 2, Shushiashvili 1, Magrakvelidze 1.
Extra player shots: USA 6/11, Georgia 8/10. Penalty shots: USA 1/1.
Georgia didn’t surprise the Americans, although they opened the game well. The hosts displayed an excellent defensive play in the first several minutes. Marko Jelaca gave Georgia a 1:0 lead in the 2nd minute. After that, both sides missed a few good chances. The USA finally found the net in the sixth minute – Max Irving scored from a counter-attack. Shortly after, Irving converted a man-up. Daube added an action goal, and Team USA had a 3:1 lead at the first break.
Early in the second period, Vapenski cut the deficit (2:3). However, the second quarter belonged to the Americans. They built an 8:3 advantage by halftime. They controlled the match in the second half. After the middle break, the distance was never smaller than three goals.
Montenegro – Japan 16:8 (4:5, 4:1, 5:1, 3:1)
Montenegro: Vidovic 4, Ukropina 3, Perkovic 3, Banicevic 2, Spaic 2, Cuckovic 1, Matkovic 1.
Japan: Inaba 4, Okawa 2, Suzuki 1, Arai 1.
Extra player shots: Montenegro 4/6, Japan 3/6. Penalty shots: Montenegro 3/3.
The result of the encounter between Montenegro and Japan could change nothing in the rankings. Montenegro secured 1st place before the last round, while Japan couldn’t move from the bottom of the table. Because of that, Montenegro’s coach Gojkovic rested Aleksandar Ivovic and Dimitrije Obradovic.
The Montenegrins didn’t care much about defense in the opening eight minutes, and Japan made the most of it. The Asians led 5:4 before the 2nd quarter.
The game was an even contest until 6:6. The Montenegrins took control in the middle of the second period. They kept Japan goalless for ten minutes. On the other side of the pool, they scored five goals in a row to jump to an 11:6 lead (20th minute) and kill all excitement.
Two days ago, Aleksandar Ivovic celebrated two jubilees (300th match and 600th goal for Montenegro). Today, Montenegro’s captain Drasko Brguljan was in the spotlight. He played his 350th game for the national team.
1 Montenegro 3 – 9
2 USA 3 – 6
3 Georgia 3 – 3
4 Japan 3 – 0