Defending champion Serbia, Hungary, Team USA and Greece are the semifinalists of the World U20 Championships in Otopeni.
The quarterfinal matches were all intense, with almost every game being a nail-biter.
Hungary was the only team to win convincingly, defeating Italy by five goals (9:5).
Serbia faced Croatia, which had a 4-goal lead before the final eight minutes. But, the Serbs staged a magnificent comeback in the fourth quarter and they leveled at 11:11. A penalty shootout decided the winner – 16:15.
The game Greece – Spain ended after penalty drama, with Greece emerging victorious – 11:10 (6:6). It should be mentioned that Greece didn’t win a single match in the group phase of Division 1 and finished in 4th place in Group B, while Spain finished atop Group A.
Team USA defeated Montenegro narrowly 10:9.
Two semifinalists from the previous World Junior Championship in Prague in 2021 reached the top 4 in Otopeni. Two years ago, Serbia won gold, and Hungary was in 4th place. Besides them, Italy (silver) and Montenegro (bronze) played in the semifinals in 2021. The other two semifinalists of the Otopeni tournament, Team USA and Greece, finished in 7th and in 8th place, respectively, in Prague.
Quarterfinals (June 15): QF1: Spain – Greece 10:11 (PSO), Hungary – Italy 9:5, Montenegro – USA 9:10, Serbia – Croatia 16:15 (PSO)
Semifinals (June 16): Greece- Serbia, Hungary – USA.
Medal matches are on June 17.
Germany and Brazil won 1st places in the groups of the 13th-19th place classification. The teams that play in the 9th – 12th classification had a day off today.
2023 World U20 Championships, Otopeni, Day 5
Spain – Greece 10:11 (1:2, 1:2, 2:2, 2:0, PSO 4:5)
Spain: Lopez 4, Perez 2, Gil 1, Valls 1, Bargallo 1,Ivaylov 1.
Greece: Pouros 3, Georgaras 2, Almyras 2, Gkillas 2, Kastrinakis 1, Bitsakos 1.
Penalty shootout: Gil 1:0, Gkillas 1:1, Valls 2:1, Kastrinakis 2:2, Lopez 3:2, Amyras 3:3, Bargallo 4:3, Pouros 4:4, Villamayor – Illiopoulos saved, Georgaras 4:5.
The first quarterfinal duel ended after the penalty shootout, which was the culmination of fascinating game.
Spain scored the first goal, but after that, Greece was almost always in front. At the first break, they had a 2:1 advantage. In the second period, they went to 4:1, but just five seconds before halftime, Ivaylov converted a man-up for 2:4. The Spaniards continued their series and leveled at 4:4 after less than two minutes of play in the second half. However, Greece entered the final quarter with a 6:4 advantage.
Spain opened the fourth period similarly to the previous one – with two goals and equalized (6:6). Two teams fought a hard battle in the remaining six minutes, but there were no more goals in regular time.
Actually, one goal was scored, but it was disallowed. Greece earned a man-up with 73 seconds left on the clock. Their coach Ilias Macharias called a timeout. After that break, Greece organized a good attack, which was finished by Semir Spahic, who found the net with 57 seconds remaining for 7:6. Spain couldn’t equalize, but it called a time-out with three seconds remaining.
Then, after a long discussion and VAR checks, all events after the Greeks’ timeout were canceled. Why? Two seconds before the goal for 7:6, there was a sound of a buzzer due to a scoreboard malfunction (which has caused problems a few times during the tournament). That confused some of the players. The delegate decided to restore the time at 01:13. Greece didn’t convert a man-up this time, Spain didn’t score either and the match continued in a shootout.
The decision came in the fifth round of shots when Greece’s goalkeeper Iliopoulos saved a shot from Villamayor.
Hungary – Italy 9:5 (4:1, 2:2, 2:2, 1:0)
Hungary: Ekler 2, Vigvari 2, Nagy 2, Varga 2, Tatrai 1.
Italy: Condemi 2, De Simon 2, Somma 1.
Hungary continued its unbeaten run in Otopeni, beating Italy, the silver-medalist from the previous Championships.
The result shows that a great defensive play and an excellent opening of the game were keys to the Hungarians’ success.
They killed all the suspense quickly. In the 5th minute, Hungary led 3:0. In the middle of the second quarter, Tatrai converted a penalty shot and stretched the margin to four (5:1). Italy managed to half the difference (3:5). However, Akos Nagy netted a very nice action goal from a distance to give the Hungarians a 6:3 advantage 37 seconds before the end of the first half.
By the middle of the third period, Hungary went to 8:3. Italy reduced the gap to two (5:8) at the finish of this quarter. However, the “Settebello” couldn’t add another goal.
Hungary’s defense was superb in the final period. The Italians did everything they could, but Hungary’s goalkeeper Viktor Nagy posted several saves (he finished the match with 13 saves and was voted the MVP of the game). There were many blocks by the Hungarians. Adam Nagy scored an action goal two minutes before the end, and the contest ended.
The statistics prove that Hungary won this match thanks to the defense. Hungary committed 16 personal fouls, but Italy scored only three power-play goals. Hungary’s man-up conversion was 1/5, with two goals scored from penalty shots (2/2). Hungary scored nine goals from 20 shots, while Italy’s shot percentage was significantly worse (5/35).
Montenegro – USA 9:10 (3:4, 2:2, 2:3, 2:1)
Montenegro:Mrsic 4, Vujovic 2, Stupar 2, Sladovic 1.
USA: R.Dodd 4, Ch.Dodd 1, McFarland 1, Liechty 1, Carson 1, Schneider 1, Merill 1.
Team USA arrived at the semifinals beating one of the favorites, Montenegro, which may be considered a surprise. However, the result of this game is new proof that there are no significant differences in quality between the top eight teams in the tournament.
Montenegro got off to a better start, taking a 2:0 lead by the middle of the first period. However, Team USA struck back strongly – with four goals in less than three minutes and turned around the two-goal deficit to a 4:2 lead. Mrsic scored from a penalty shot for the final score of the first quarter – 3:4. But, the Americans imposed their rhythm and didn’t let the Montenegrins level the score. The teams traded the goals in the second period. The Montenegrins continued chasing the rival in the third, but the Americans resisted. Moreover, they entered the final period leading by two goals. Just 11 seconds before the last break, Schneider made it 9:7. In the middle of the final period, Ben Liechty netted a powerplay goal from the deep right for 10:7, and it seemed that the Americans had secured the win.
However, Marko Mrsic replied with two goals from Marko Mrsic (one from a penalty and one from a 6 on 5) and Montenegro cut the deficit to one once more (9:10) with 02:27 minutes to goal. The game was open again, but there were no goals in the remaining time. Montenegro had the last attack and a chance to keep their semifinal hopes alive. Lazar Vukcevic took responsibility and attempted to score from a difficult position, but USA’s goalie West Temkin saved his shot and sent the USA to the semifinals. It was his 12th blocked shot in the match.
Ryder Dodd led the USA with four goals, and Marko Mrsic scored four for Montenegro.
According to the statistics, Montenegro’s poor conversion of the powerplay shots made the difference. Team USA committed 14 personal fouls. Montenegro scored five goals after these fouls (extra player shots 2/8 and penalty shots 3/3). Team USA’s conversion wasn’t much better, but the Americans didn’t have many opportunities. Montenegro had eight exclusions (none was for a penalty shot) and the USA scored three goals from a 6 on 5.
Serbia – Croatia 16:15 (2:3, 4:3, 1:5, 4:0, PSO 5:4)
Serbia: Martinovic 4, Urosevic 3, Kovacevic 3, Gavrilovic 2, Gladovic 2, Kojic 1, Brescanski 1.
Croatia: Zvono 4, Busic 3, Pavlic 3, Mozara 2, Burburan 1, N.Cubranic 1, Tonicic 1.
Penalty shootout: Zvono 0:1, Martinovic 1:1, Pavlic 1:2, Kojic 2:2, Mozara 2:3 Kovacevic 3:3, Stojanac failed to score, Urosevic 4:3, Burburan 4:4, Gladovic 5:4
The Serbian-Croatian derby was three games in one. The first half was an even contest, then Croatia took control, but the finish belonged to Serbia, which won the match after a penalty shootout.
Croatia’s Hrvoje Zvono opened the scoring with a penalty shot in the 2nd minute. After that, the teams exchanged goals. The score was tied six times. Each team netted six goals in the first two periods.
Viktor Tonicic netted for Croatia in its first possession, he converted a 6 on 4 for 7:6. Shortly after, Cubranic found the net from the 5m line and two goals separated the rivals for the first time (8:6). In the middle of the quarter, Urosevic scored with an extra player for 7:8. However, the Croats netted three goals in the last 129 seconds of the 3rd quarter. Zvono made it 9:7. Busic escaped Serbian defenders and netted from a close-range shot after a nice assist from Burburan – 10:7. Serbia wasted a double man-up in its last attack in this quarter (it scored the goal, but it was disallowed since a player received a ball in the 2m-zone). Ten seconds before the last break, a penalty shot was awarded for Croatia after Serbia’s unsuccessful challenge (a new rule). Hrvoje Zvono made no mistake. The Croats headed into the final quarter with a 11:7 lead and many saw them in the semifinals.
But, something similar happened like in the match Croatia – Montenegro, when the Croats lost the game despite they had a 5-goal lead.
Serbia dominated the final period and managed to overcome a 4-goal deficit. Five minutes before the end, the score was still 11:7, and then Serbia’s storm started. The defending champions tightened their defense. They kept Croatia far from their goal and didn’t let them make many scoring opportunities. Step by step, they were coming back. Gavrilovic opened the series of three action goals (that was continued by Brescanski and ended by Kovacevic). Before the final minute, Serbia trailed by a goal (10:11). They earned a man-up with 53 seconds to go. Urosevic hit the back of the net from the left for 11:11 at 00:36. Croatia lost the ball with 14 seconds to go, and Serbia had a chance to win in regular time. But, the Serbs lost the ball in their last possession like their rivals, so the drama continued.
Robert Stojanac was a tragedian of the penalty shootout. He failed to shot in the third round – he dropped the ball. All other shoters found the net and Serbia reached the semifinals.
Action shots were Serbia’s weapon in the 32 minutes of the game. It scored eight action goals from even 23 attempts. Croatia netted only three goals from a 6 on 6 (3/12). Serbia scored three powerplay goals from nine shots (3/9), and Croatia five (5/8).
As for total shots, Croatia’s percentage was better, but they had fewer attempts – Serbia 16/40 and Croatia 15/32.
If Croatia had won, a hero would have probably been goalkeeper Mauro ivan Cubranic who collected 14 saves.
Classification 13th – 19th place
GROUP G, Round 3
Germany – Argentina 11:7 (2:0, 2:3, 3:2, 4:2)
Germany: Sekulic 3, Grosse, Portisch 1, Bauer 1, Rehm 1,Hofmann 1, Metten 1, Dyck 1, Taubert 1.
Argentina: Girri 4, Lucero 2, Bonifasi 1.
New Zealand bye
Argentina offered solid resistance to Germany in the match, which was decisive for the top spot in this group. Germany led throughout the match, but Argentina chased them successfully. The turning point was Germany’s 4:0 rush between 22nd and the 30th minute. The Europeans jumped from 6:5 to 10:5 and secured the win.
Standings: 1. Germany 6, 2. Argentina 3, 3. New Zealand 0.
GROUP H, Round 3
South Africa – Iran 15:16 (4:2, 1:4, 5:2, 2:4, PSO 3:4)
South Africa: Botha 3, Mansvelt 3, Harrod 3, Van Breda 2, Nielsen 2, Imbriolo 1, Bungane 1,
Iran: Mehrikohneshahri 6, Behzadsabouri 3, Shams 3, Iranpoutari 2, Adham 1.
The game between South Africa and Iran produced a few twists and turns. South Africa took control in the third quarter and entered the final period leading 10:8.
Early in the fourth, the Africans increased the margin to three (11:8). Iran leveled at 11:11. South Africa’s Botha gave his team a 12:11 advantage with 22 seconds left on the clock. However, Shams leveled at 12:12 two seconds before the buzzer, so the match entered the penalty shootout. Iran took two points after five series of shots and finished in 2nd place in the group.
Peru – Brazil 3:21 (0:8, 1:4, 2:3, 0:6)
Peru:N.F. Contreras 2, Rodriguez 1.
Brazil: Caumo 3, Fiszer 3, Oliveira 3, Wulfhorst 3, Carsalade 2, Gomes 2, Razera 1, Zerbielli 1, Dominghetti 1, Freitas 1.
As expected, Brazil cruised to a victory over Peru and confirmed first place. Peru is the first team that ended the tournament, finishing in 19th place.
Standings: 1. Brazil 9, 2. Iran 5, 3. South Africa 4, 4. Peru 0.