The last day of World Cup Division 1 was a day of big thrillers and surprises. There were a few unexpected results, a lot of twists and turns. And in the end, the home fans left the pools unhappy. The home teams, Croatia and Montenegro, didn’t qualify for the Final Eight.
Hungary bounced back after yesterday’s big loss to the USA and beat Croatia in Zagreb (13:10). With this victory, Hungary advanced to the Final tournament in Los Angeles. The Hungarians joined Italy and the USA, which had qualified earlier for the F8, while European champion Croatia finished its season in the World Cup.
Italy confirmed 1st place in the group in Zagreb with a 16:10 victory over the USA.
The question about the participants in the F8 from Group B in Podgorica was open until the dying seconds of the last game.
Spain, which qualified two days ago, didn’t play today. In the first match of the 6th round, Georgia upset Serbia, celebrating a 23:22 win after a marathon in a penalty shootout (11:11 in regular time).
At that moment, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro had chances to advance to the tournament in California.
Montenegro needed a 2-goal win over Greece to qualify. Still, the Montenegrins recorded a narrow 8:7 victory in an exciting match, which wasn’t enough. Greece and Serbia will play at the Final Eight along with Spain.
Group A, final standings: 1. Italy 15, 2. USA 9, 3. Hungary 9, 4. Croatia 9, 5. Japan 3, 6. France 0.
Group B, final standings: 1. Spain 13, 2. Greece 9, 3. Serbia 9, 4. Montenegro 9, 5. Georgia 5, 6. Australia 0.
(find out more details about the tie-breaking in the classification 2nd-4th place in both groups in our report)
Pairs of the quarterfinals: Italy – team from Division 2, Spain – team from Division 2, USA – Serbia, Greece – Hungary
World Aquatics Water Polo World Cup Division 1, Day 7
Group A (Zagreb)
Hungary – Croatia 13:10 (2:1, 5:4, 3:2, 3:3)
Hungary: Levai, Angyal, Mahnercz 3, Pohl, Vamos Molnar, Zalanki 7, Nagy 1, Nemet, Fekete, Jansik 1, Vigvari 1, Szakonyi. Head coach: Zs. Varga.
Croatia: Bijac, Buric 2, Fatovic 1, Krapic, Lazic 2, Bukic, Biljaka, Zuvela 2, Marinic Kragic 1, Vrlic 1, Basic 1, Kharkov, Popadic. Head coach: Tucak
Croatia had enormous support from the packed stands. All tickets were sold yesterday. But, Gergo Zalanki spoiled the Croatian party.
Captain Szilard Jansik was back to the team, which was a little bit surprising, considering that some news about serious injuries have come in the last few days. But, Jansik was ready and contributed significantly to Hungary’s victory. But, without any doubt , the match’s hero was Gergo Zalanki. The left-handed goal-getter arrived in Zagreb on Sunday as a reserve, after Jansik got injured.
Yesterday, Zalanki didn’t show his best against the USA, but he was outstanding in the game against the hosts. He scored 7 goals from 9 attempts.
Hungary needed a win to qualify for the Final tournament. Croatia would stay ahead of Hungary with one point. But, Hungary dictated the pace and led throughout the match.
The teams were tied only in the first four minutes before the first goal was scored and in a short interval in the fourth quarter. In the fourth minute, Zalanki scored his first of today’s seven goals, by converting a penalty shot. Manhercz doubled the Hungarians’ lead. Two minutes and six seconds before the first break, Buric put Croatia on the scoreboard from a 6 on 5.
Hungary opened the second quarter excellently, with three goals in a row. In the 11th minute, Zalanki made it 5:1 (from a penalty again). Croatia managed to half the deficit (3:5, 4:6, 5:7).
In the middle of the third quarter, Zalanki converted a man-up for 8:5. But, shortly after, Bukic scored an action goal and Croatia came close again (6:8).
Then Zalaanki took the match into his hands again by scoring two extra player goals. Hungary regained a 4-goal lead (10:6) in the 23rd minute. Hungary controlled the match. It seemed that the European champions couldn’t come back. But, late into the third quarter, the hosts’ tightened their defense and managed to stop Zalanki and other Hungary goal-getters.
Croatia held Hungary goalless for almost seven minutes. The hosts produced a 4:0 run in that interval and caught up with the Hungarians. Three minutes and 17 seconds before the end, Andrija Basic hit the back of the net to equalize (10:10).
However, Croatia didn’t go further. The teams weren’t tied for long. In the next possession, Hungary earned a man-up. Vendel Vigvari covered a 6 on 5 to an 11:10 lead. In the remaining time, Zalanki added his 7th goal. Manhercz put an end, by scoring an action goal with 23 seconds left on the clock. He sent the ball into the empty net because Croatia’s goalkeeper Toni Popadic (who replaced Bijac in the fourth quarter), joined his teammates in the last attack but the hosts didn’t score in that 7 on 6.
Hungary qualified for the Final and took revenge for the defeat in the 2022 European Championships final.
Italy – USA 16:10 (1:1, 4:2, 4:1, 7:6)
Italy: Del Lungo, Di Fulvio 1, Ferrero 2, Marziali 2, Fondelli, Condemi, Renzuto 2, Echenique 1, N.Presciutti 1, Bruni 1, Di Somma 5, dolce 1, Massaro. Head coach: Campagna.
USA: Weinberg, Hooper, Vavic, Abramson 2, Daube 1, Cupido 1, Hallock 3, Woodhead, Dodd 1, Stevenson 1, Ehrhardt 1, Irving, Holland. Head coach: Udovicic.
Before the tournament, few could predict that Italy and the USA will battle for 1st place in the group in the last game of the tournament. But, after surprising Hungary yesterday, the USA had a chance to finish atop. To remind you, the Americans qualified for the Final even before the tournament in Zagreb, since they will be the hosts.
Still, Italy didn’t let a new surprise happen and finished the tournament with a perfect record.
The USA started better and led 1:0 and 2:1. Cupido scored the second goal for the Americans in the 9th minute. However, after that, the Europeans ruled the field. Italy, with unstoppable Edoardo Di Somma, produced a 9:2 run. Early in the fourth period, the Italians earned a 10:4 lead and maintained a six-goal difference , in a high-scoring last quarter.
1.Italy 5 – 15
2. USA 5 – 9
3. Hungary 5 – 9
4. Croatia 5 – 9
5. Japan 5 – 3
6. France 5 – 0
I Mini table of the teams that are tied in points: 1. USA 3 (+4), 2. Hungary 3 (-3), 3. Croatia 3 (-1). The USA is 1st because of the best goal-difference, and Hungary is ahead of Croatia because it beat Croatia. Results: Croatia – USA 16:14, USA – Hungary 15:9, Hungary – Croatia 13:10.
Group B (Podgorica)
Georgia – Serbia 23:22 (4:2, 2:3, 2:3, 3:3, PSO 12:11)
Georgia: Razmadze, Akhvlediani, Dadvani, Shushiashvili 4, Bitadze 1, Jelaca, Adeishvili, Tkeshalashvili 2, Imnaishvili, Magrakvelidze 2, Vasic 2, Dzikhtsiarenka, Gvetadze. Head coach: Stanojevic.
Serbia: Mitrovic, Mandic 3, S. Rasovic 1, Randjelovic, Toholj, Radulovic 1, Lukic, Dimitrijevic 1, Stanojevic, Ubovic, Jankovic 1, Vucinic 3, Misovic. Head coach: Stevanovic.
Penalty shootout: Mandic – Razmadze saved, Vasic 1:0; Jankovic 1:1; Jelaca 2:1; Vucinic 2:2; Imnaishvili 3:2, S.Rasovic 3:3;, Akhveliadini 4:3, Lukic 4:4,Shushiashvili – Misovic saved; Mandic 5:4, Vasic 5:5, Jankovic 6:5; Jelaca 6:6; Vuccinic 7:6; Imnaishvili 7:7; S.Rasovic 8:7, Adeishvili 8:8, Lukic 9:8, Shushiashvili 9:9; Mandic 10:9, Vasic 10:10; Jankovic 11:10, Jelaca 11:11; Vucinic – Razmadze saved; Imnaishvili 12:11.
Georgia, which didn’t have any chance to qualify, played for pride. Serbia, encouraged by a win over Spain on Sunday, played to secure a ticket for California (it needed two points to cement 3rd place before the last game). That win over the world champions maybe had a negative impact on Serbia. Perhaps the young team jumped too high and underestimated Georgia. But tiredness was also an important factor at the end of the tournament.
As in the previous four games, Serbia needed a lot of time to find its rhythm, but this time, it couldn’t bring the game to the expected outcome.
In the first half, Georgia was more aggressive in the attack. Serbia had a good extra-man conversion, but it didn’t force many exclusions. Georgia had a 2-goal lead on several occasions (3:1, 4:2, 5:3, 6:4). In the 16th minute, Jankovic made it 5:6. Djordje Vucinic opened the second half with two goals from almost the same place and gave Serbia the first lead – 7:6. However, his teammate at Novi Beograd, Nika Shushiashvili replied with two goals – one from an excellent lob and the other from a counter-attack. Georgia went ahead again – 8:7 (between these two goals, Vucinic missed a penalty). Immediately after Georgia’s eighth goal, Mandic leveled with a very nice shot, and the teams entered the final quarter tied at 8:8.
Serbia finally found its rhythm in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough to beat Georgia, which didn’t surrender. Serbia led 9:8, Georgia leveled. But, the Serbs netted two back-to-back goals, both from a distance (Mandic and Radulovic) and the Olympic champions gained a 2-goal lead for the first time – 11:9 with 02:32 minutes to go. Still, the Georgians didn’t say their last word. Serbian-born Dusan Vasic scored from an extra for 10:11. Andrea Bitadze made the most of confusion in Serbia’s defense and leveled at 11:11 in the quick action a minute before the end. Neither of the side found the net in the last 60 seconds.
The penalty shootout started badly for Serbia. Razmadze saved a shot from Mandic in the first round. After that, there were no misses in the net four rounds, and Georgia had a “match-ball” in the 5th series of shots. But, youngster Vladimir Misovic, who replaced Mitrovic before thr 4th round (as in the shootout against Spain) blocked a shot from Nika Shushiashvili.
The drama continued. Nobody missed in the following seven rounds. Serbia’s head coach Uros Stevanovic switched the goalkeepers several times; his colleague on Georgia’s bench Dejan Stanojevic did it twice. The game ended in the 13th round of shots. Razmadze saved Vucinic’s shot. At the other end of the pool, Imnaishvili made no mistake, scored for Georgia’s win and complicated the situation in the group.
Montenegro – Greece 8:7 (3:3, 2:2, 2:1, 1:1)
Montenegro: Tesanovic, Mrsic 1, Macic 1, Averka 1, Cuckovic, Popadic 1, Dj.Radovic, Ukropina, Perkovic, Spaic 1, Matkovic 1, V.Radovic 2, Djurovic. Head coach: gojkovic.
Greece: Zerdevas, Genidounias 2, Skoumpakis, Kalogeropoulos, FOuntoulis 3, Papanastasiou, Dervisis, Argyropoulos, Nikolaidis, Kakaris 1, Alafragkis, Vlachopoulos, Tzortzatos. Head coach: Vlachos.
After Serbia won only a point in the game against Georgia, there were several possible outcomes. In the previous rounds, Serbia lost to Greece 16:14 and beat Montenegro 10:8.
Tie-breaking rules are pretty complicated.
If Montenegro had won by two goals, Montenegro and Serbia would have qualified (in this case, the results against Spain and the match Montenegro-Greece would have been considered, because Serbia was the only one that beat Spain). If Montenegro had won by three or more goals, Montenegro and Greece would have qualified.
But, nothing of all of that happened. Montenegro earned a narrow win, which wasn’t enough for them. Greece and Serbia secured the tickets for California.
The game was an even contest, from the beginning. In the first quarter, Greece led 1:0 and 2:1. Montenegro had a 3:2 advantage but the teams were tied at 3:3 before the second quarter. New series of turns started after the first break. Early in the second period, Averka gave Montenegro a 4:3 lead. Fountoulis responded with two quick goals for 5:4. In the middle of the quarter, Spaic leveled with an extra player for 5:5, which was the score at halftime.
Fountoulis opened the second half with a penalty goal for 6:5, and after that, Montenegro’s domination started. Greece didn’t score a goal for 12 minutes. They didn’t play too badly in the attack, despite the fact that they missed seven man-ups (!) during these 12 minutes. They had a few nice chances, but Montenegro’s goalkeeper Petar Tesanovic had a great evening. He posted one save after another and was a hero of the Montenegrins’ comeback.
Happily for the Greeks’, their defense worked well in the second half and didn’t let Montenegro score easy goals. However, Montenegro earned a desired 2-goal margin in its first possession in the final quarter. Aljosa Macic netted for 8:6. It turned out that it was their last goal. Greece was struggling in attack, Tesanovic was excellent. Still, two minutes and 21 seconds before the end, Genidounias ended Greeece’s long goalless phase, scoring an action goal for 7:8. In the remaining time,
Montenegrins fought hard, but they couldn’t regain a 2-goal lead and said goodbye.
Even though they didn’t go through, the Montenegrins received and deserved strong applause from their fans because they showed they could battle with the best teams in the world..
1.Spain 5 games – 13 points
2. Greece 5 – 9
3. Serbia 5 – 9
4. Montenegro 5 – 9
5. Georgia 5 – 5
6. Australia 5 – 0
I Mini table of the teams that are tied in points: 1. Greece 3 pts (+1), 2. Serbia 3 (0), 3. Montenegro 3 (-1). Greece is 1st because of the best goal-difference, Serbia is 2nd because it beat Montenegro. Results: Greece – Serbia 16:14, Serbia – Montenegro 11:9, Montenegro – Greece 8:7.
For the all results, statistics and standings visit Total Waterpolo Arena