Australia was the first team to join the group-winners in the quarter-finals. They were quick and effective in the first eight-finals and decided the outcome in the first eight minutes while taking a 5-0 lead over Colombia. Spain joined soon, they had a bit harder task to overcome Brazil but they downed their rivals with a 6-0 rush in the third period.
Italy kept the game under control for the most of the time but the Russians came back from three goals down to 9-10 with a late surge though didn’t have a real chance to save the match to a shootout. The fourth game brought tremendous excitements as Hungary and the US were entangled in an enormous battle which was decided in a shootout where the home side prevailed.
Colombia ran out of miracles in the eight-finals. Reaching this stage has already been a historical feat as they could never go so far in major tournaments, now they did it by beating Canada on the previous day.
But the Aussies were too powerful and the Latin Americans probably burnt most of their reserves some 24 hours earlier. The Aussies advanced with ease and they can prepare for a quarter-final match against Greece.
Spain needed two periods to break the enthusiasm of the Brazilians who fought pretty hard and trailed only 3-5 at halftime. However, physical power, swimming speed, and water polo skills prevailed in the third period when Spain lifted its game and staged a 6-0 rush to decide the match. They shut out Brazil for almost 17 minutes while going 12-3 up (from 5-3), enough to book their place in the QF.
Italy shut out Russia for 10:22 minutes in the first half and gained a 1-5 lead en route which served a rock-solid base for the remaining part of the third eight-final. Deep into the third they were still 2-7 up but then their level of concentration dropped a bit and the Russians began to climb back.
Still, Michele Mezzaroba was always on hand to save Italy, he netted four goals and contributed a lot to keep the Russians in safe distance for most of the time. With 5:27 to go they were still 7-10 up and even though they didn’t score anymore, the Russians could net their 9th goal only 30 seconds from time and the Italians didn’t give the ball away in their last possession.
The home side’s contest with the US couldn’t have presented the capacity crowd of 2,000 fans with any more thrilling action. Defenses and especially the goalkeepers did a tremendous job at both ends, the Magyars shut out the US boys in the entire second period but the Americans hit back with four goals in the third and led 5-6 before the last break.
However, the hosts managed to deny their rivals for a whole period once more and netted the crucial equalizer for 6-6 with 2:11 to go. The decision was left to the penalties, the Hungarians netted all four while a save and the post denied two US attempts so the Magyars managed to go through.
In the games for the lower positions, Egypt crashed Saudi Arabia in a bit surprisingly devastating mood as they even eclipsed Hungary’s scoring record of 30 goals by netting 36 in the opening match of the day. Later New Zealand staged the first shutout of the tournament by beating China 11-0.
The middle two matches were closer though Argentina extended the gap to 5 with a great last period. South Africa took a commanding lead against Canada and even though the North Americans could climb back they suffered another shocking loss after going down against Colombia on the last day of the prelims.
Quarters: 5-0, 6-2, 1-1, 4-2
The Aussies froze their rivals before any kind of inner fire could have lit up inside the Colombians’ souls – they knew that this was the best way to play a calm match and ultimately to spare energies for the coming battles. Two action goals in a span of 49 seconds gave a firm base for this campaign, and soon another double arrived, this time in 71 seconds – with only 4:10 minutes into the opening period they were 4-0 up.
Their physical superiority was visible in all fields, the Colombians couldn’t set up any dangerous opportunity in offense while the young Dolphins netted their goals seemingly easily. Of course, the worked hard and played with discipline for the big lead which they extended to 5-0 before the first break, Reilly Townsend and Christian Kyriakou netted two apiece during the rush.
They added two more in the opening 90 seconds of the following period for a 7-0 lead to extinct even the lightest of doubts who was the better side in this match. By halftime, they were 11-2 up so they could switch back for the second half where they netted only 5 goals (one in the third) but could save some power for the QF which was due against Greece in 24 hours.
Quarters: 2-3, 1-2, 0-6, 4-3
Brazil gave its best to stay as close as possible and every gesture and reaction from the players showed that they strongly believed in achieving something more. However, Spain’s skills prevailed: in the third, they managed to break their rivals who didn’t have the necessary power to push the ball through the Spanish defense.
In fact, some heroics and a bit of luck Brazil needed to keep up till halftime. In the first quarter, for example, a brilliant save from Joao Fernandes in a man-down prevented the Spaniards from going 1-3 up, instead, Brazil equalized from the ensuing 2 on 1 counter. Though the momentum was gone soon as Oscar Montas netted a fine goal from the center 25 seconds later to give the lead back to Spain.
And they doubled it from the first possession in the second as Victor Alegre found the back of the net from a 6 on 5 and another converted extra put Spain 2-5 ahead. Nicolas Fichman pulled one back for Brazil immediately and the remaining 5:12 minutes were devoted to chasing on the Spaniards who had some struggles in the offense. The favorite side missed an extra, then even a penalty and Brazil had a man-up to climb back to one goal in the last minute before the break but they missed it.
But the inevitable came pretty soon in the third: Echevarria Rodriguez just beat the buzzer from a 6 on 5 and 46 seconds later Alegre scored an action goal to make it 3-7. That caught the Brazilians who couldn’t really recover: they tried and tried but the Spanish defense was too tight for them – and the Spanish no longer offered easy misses in the offense.
They staged a 6-0 rush in this period, the Brazilians even missed a penalty. Their scoreless drought lasted agonizingly long, for 16:55 minutes, during that period Spain won the match (from 5-3 till 12-3 they were cruising). Brazil found a couple of consolation goals, but their dreams ended here – Spain marched on and shall play with Croatia for a place in the semis.
Quarters: 1-3, 1-2, 4-4, 3-1
Italy needed 5:38 minutes to get on the scoreboard, but once they opened the scoring they started rolling the first period. Before that, they were a bit off the pace while the Russians, after missing a 6 on 5, took the lead with a fine left-handed shot from Askar Nakhiyanov. Then the Italians managed to open their account, though needed back-to-back man-ups in one possession, soon they were 1-3 up. It took 76 seconds to score three goals, the last two came in a span of 21, another converted man-up was followed by a steal and a counter, by Gianpiero di Martire.
Despite missing their next extra, the Italians went on dominating and three minutes into the second they added once more, Michele Mezzaroba netted a free throw from 6m for 1-4. Vladimir Zasedatelev’s great save in a man-down kept the three-goal cushion but the Russians couldn’t find the tools against the well-organized Italian defense for long minutes, most of their forced shots were denied by the blocks.
And Italy was soon 1-5 up as Filippo Ferrero managed to escape and finished a clear counter with 2:24 to go till the middle break. Finally, Daniil Frolov could put away a man-up to break the Russians’ silence lasting for 10:22 minutes and bring some positive experiences with themselves to the third they managed to kill an Italian 6 on 5 in the last minute – still, the Settebello Jr. led 2-5 at halftime.
The good feelings were gone soon, though, Mezzaroba netted the first 6 on 5 in the third for 2-6. Ivan Vasilev replied from a penalty but Mezzaroba was on fire and his brilliant individual action set back the 4-goal difference (3-7).
The Italians’ concentration level dropped a bit in the next couple of minutes, missed two extras and conceded an easy action goal and faced a man-down when Russia could have come back to two but they gave away the ball with the first pass and Italy didn’t miss the following 6 on 5, Michele de Robertis quickly converted it from the wing.
A nice lob from Nikita Volkov brought the Russians closer and Frolov’s shot from the distance halved Italy’s lead at 6-8. But the remaining 7 seconds were enough for Mezzaroba to launch a rocket from a free-throw – he let the ball fly from east least 8m and it bounced in from the crossbar, outstanding goal it was, his 4th in the game – so Italy led by three before the final eight minutes.
Another magnificent lob, this time by Nakhiyanov, gave some hope for the Russians early in the fourth, had a possession for narrowing the gap to one, but Frolov’s forced back-handed shot from 6m and de Robertis sent the ball to the top left corner with a nice action shot for 7-10. Vasilev netted an extra for 8-10 with 3:27 to go and this time the Russians had more chance to save the match at least to a shootout.
After a time-out, they could play in 6 on 5 with 66 seconds remaining but the plan didn’t work. At least until the point when the inattentive defenders gave back the ball to the Russians who earned a penalty in an adventurous way. Frolov buried it for 9-10 but only 30.7 seconds remained and the Italians kept the ball and could continue in the quarters.
Quarters: 2-2, 1-0, 2-4, 1-0 – penalties: 4-3
The game not even started when the crowd gave a huge applause to the Serbian ref as Andreja Stanojevic managed to throw the ball precisely to the basket before the swim-off – anyway the atmosphere was already electrifying as the locals flooded the stands, 2,000 fans wanted to see the Hungarians making the quarters in the evening.
After an action-packed but scoreless four minutes a quick exchange of action goals heated up the game, then came some more fine saves before Botond Bobis netted his second with a one-timer 0:42sec before the first break. Hannes Daube was extremely quick in replying, just 9sec later his blast from a free-throw made it 2-2. And stood for the first period as Hungary missed a man-up in the dying seconds under time-pressure.
Bobis hit the bar from a penalty early in the second, Quinn Woodhead sneaked to one-on-one at the other end but Mark Grieszbacher came up with a big save. Daniel Roland also denied a handful of Hungarian attempts, his count stood at 7/9 deep into the second. The US missed two man-ups in a row, Grieszbacher denied Woodhead from close range but Roland also came up with a save a man-down – though after the corner-through Bendeguz Ekler sent the ball home from the wing just before the returning player reached him (2-3).
Grieszbacher’s next save was as big as the others in the next man-down, but Hungary couldn’t break two goals clear as they overplayed their 6 on 5 and had two wrong assists in a counter – but Grieszbacher kept on stopping the balls, his percentage stood at 80% (8/10) at halftime.
Hungary’s opening man-up saw no shots in the third and that was punished at the other end as Alika Naone’s pinpoint shot found the bottom left corner for 3-3. The bar saved the US but nothing saved the Hungarians when Daube gave the lead to the Americans by burying a penalty but Norman Schmolz sent a rocket from the distance to equalize for 4-4. Daube came next, scored his third from a 6 on 5, but Bobis was up to the task to net his third too, also from an extra.
Woodhead found the tool against the Hungarian goalie to convert a man-up (Grieszbacher could catch only 2 out of 6 in the third) and since the Hungarians missed theirs the US had a chance to go two up for the first time in the match. It remained 5-6, though, as they missed a late few-second long man-up.
Roland saved Bobis’ sharp shot with the help of the post and soon the US had a man-up after a time-out but the home defense worked but Roland also posted two saves in a HUN 6 on 5. Grieszbacher’s denied Daube in a man-up but a blocking hand stopped the Hungarian shot in an extra too. But the next was on target, leftie Zsombor Szeghalmi sent the ball home for 6-6 with 2:11 remaining.
The bar denied the US, then Hungary couldn’t set up well a 4 on 3 counter, Hannes sent a shot wide from a free-throw, the US defense neutralized the center-feeds with a turnover foul in between – so came what seemed to be inevitable in the enormous fight: the penalties decided the outcome.
An interesting note, both goalies arrived at the shootout with exactly the same percentage from the game: 13 stops on 19 shots for 68%.
And it was Grieszbacher who posted the crucial save, he denied Molthan in the second round. From that point, the pressure was on the Americans, and while the Hungarians netted four in a row, Quinn Woodhead hit the woodwork in the fifth to end the contest and to send the crowd to the seventh heaven, and the Magyars to the quarters. So the Hungarians are flying on through their next one wouldn’t be any easier either – a huge clash against Montenegro.
Quarters: 8-1, 11-0, 8-0, 9-0
At this stage of the tournament, fatigue starts becoming a factor for 17-18-year-old kids, especially for the less-trained teams. Playing the penultimate match on the previous day – against Serbia –, then playing the first one next day with little more than 12 hours for recovery – that was too much for the Saudis.
Though these games are supposed to be the ones when teams can play more balanced matches, this one brought the widest gap, Egypt beat Hungary’s scoring record of 30, set against Argentina on Day 4, as they netted 36 goals.
Quarters: 4-2, 0-2, 5-4, 6-2
For three periods it was an exciting even match, where Argentina took a 4-2 lead early in the second period but the Uzbeks could level the score before the middle break then by netting two in 43 seconds at the beginning of the third they even went ahead for 5-6 and soon enjoyed a two-goal lead.
But the Argentinians got back to life after this 1-5 rush of their rivals and in a span of 73 seconds they hit back with a triple for 8-7 and held on the lead till the end of the third. The fourth began with a penalty, Alex Lorenth converted it and in 54 seconds Matias Hoorn expanded the gap to three goals for the first time in the match. That did the damage, soon it was +4, Lorenzo Rizzo scored from the center and there was no way back for the Uzbeks.
Quarters: 4-0, 3-5, 3-2, 1-3
The minor shock of losing to Colombia and being denied for a place in the eight-finals had its side-effects on the Canadians. When they began to awaken they were already 4-0 down against the South Africans. But they woke up at last and with just 2:34 into the second period they trailed only 5-4. At half-time, it stood 7-5 but Canada came back stronger in the third and in 87 seconds they caught up their rivals at 7-7.
And they had a man-up to take the lead but missed it and that hit back soon as the Africans netted three in a span of 76 seconds to lead 10-7 before the last period. With 4:38 to go, at 11-8, South Africa seemed to have it but with perhaps the fastest double of the meet, scored in 22 seconds, Canada was back to 11-10, with 1:11 to go.
With 0:47 from the time they had the ball, after a time-out, they could feed their center-forward but Bor Tanasijevic’s shot was stopped by the goalie so Canada had to settle for playing only for the 17-20th places here.
Quarters: 0-1, 0-3, 0-2, 0-5
China ran out of gas for the 6th day of the tournament, they were simply unable to put away the ball. Only 10 shots they could direct on goal, all were stopped by the goalies, the other 16 shots either hit the posts or were missed. The lack of the necessary reserves was visible as the game was proceeding, after three periods New Zealand led 6-0 and they could add 5 more in the last eight minutes.