Montenegro convincingly defeated the United States in the derby match of Day 1 of the Men’s World League Super Final, which has started in Tbilisi today.
Captain Aleksandar Ivovic, who celebrated two jubilees today, led Montenegro to a 10:6 victory over the USA. Greece didn’t have an easy task against France, but it recorded a 10:8 win. Host Georgia edged out Japan (13:12). World champion Italy made no mistake and beat Kazakhstan.17:11.
Day 1 – Group A: Greece – France 10:8, Kazakhstan – Italy 11:17, Group B: Montenegro – USA 10:6, Japan – Georgia 12:13
Greece – France 10:8 (2:2, 3:1, 2:3, 3:2)
Greece: Genidounias 3, Argyropoulos 3, Fountoulis 2, Skoumpakis 1, Gkiouvetsis 1.
France:Bouet 2, Canonne 2, Saudadier 1, Marion Vernoux 1, Vernoux 1, Vanpeperstraete 1.
Extra player shots: Greece 4/9, France 7/11. Penalty shots: Greece 1/1.
The match was very similar to an encounter between Greece and France in the Olympic Qualifications quarterfinals in Rotterdam. In January, Greece defeated France after a penalty shootout (17:14). This time, the favorite recorded the win in regular time, but France kept up with the Greeks for more than three quarters. France took the lead just once (3:2 in the 11th minute), but they kept Greece under pressure. By halftime, Greece earned a 2-goal lead (5:3). Still, France, which had a very good percentage of extra player shots, managed to come back and equalize three times (6:6 7:7,8:8).
Konstantinos Genidounias scored two goals within 61 seconds (29th and 30th minute) to give the Greeks a 10:8 advantage, and the French couldn’t come back.
One of the best Greek players Angelos Vlachopoulos didn’t come to Tbilisi. He is absent due to an injury.
Kazakhstan – Italy 11:17 (1:5, 3:3, 3:6, 4:3)
Kazakhstan: Vuksanovic 4, Shakenov 2, Ruday 2, Aubakirov 1, Markovic 1.
Italy:Fondelli 3, Damonte 3, Di Fulvio 2, Luongo 2, Alesiani 2, Bodegas 2, Aicardi 1, N.Presciutti 1, Dolce 1.
Extra player shots: Kazakhstan 4/7, Italy 6/9. Penalty shots: Italy 1/1.
Italy took a flying start and rushed to a 6:1 lead. That determined the rest of the encounter. Kazakhstan recovered from an opening shock, The Asians reduced the gap to three goals three times (3:6, 5:8, 6:9), but they couldn’t endanger Italy’s victory. The World champions had an 8-goal lead in the middle of the fourth period (16:8) and slowed down in the last four minutes.
A left-handed Luca Damonte, who will play for Ferencvaros next season, and Andrea Fondelli scored three goals each for Italy, but the best scorer of the game was Srdjan Vuksanovic, with four goals.
Montenegro – USA 10:6 (0:2, 5:2, 3:2, 2:0)
Montenegro: Ivovic 3, Brguljan 2, Ukropina 2, Petkovic 1, Cuckovic 1, Vidovic 1.
USA: Hooper 2, Obert 1, Bowen 1, Smith 1, Irving 1.
Extra player shots: Montenegro 4/11, USA 4/7. Penalty shots: USA 0/1.
Montenegro defeated Team USA in the big match of the day, but that wasn’t an easy victory.
The Americans had a 2:0 lead after the first quarter. Montenegro got on the scoreboard in the 10th minute (Ivovic for 1:2), but Max Irving replied with an extra-player goal for 3:1. Shortly after, the USA had a great chance to earn a 3-goal lead. The Americans had a penalty shot for 4:1, but young Montenegro’s goalkeeper Petar Tesanovic saved a shot from Bowen, which was a turning point.
After the saved penalty, Montenegro scored four goals in a row and went 5:3 up. The USA reduced the gap before the middle break (4:5). However, the Europeans built a 3-goal lead early in the third period (7:4). The Americans cut the deficit (6:7) in the 24th minute. Montenegro’s captain Aleksandar Ivovic closed this quarter with a goal from a counter-attack for 8:6 just two seconds before the buzzer.
Montenegro tightened its defense in the fourth period and recorded a 10:6 win.
Aleksandar Ivovic was the best scorer, with three goals. Montenegro’s captain celebrated two jubilees today. The game against the USA was his 300th match for the national team. Ivovic’s third goal in the game was the 600th he scored for Montenegro.
Young goalkeeper Petar Tesanovic should be praised. He posted 13 saves (68,4 %). Team USA’s goalies collected 11 saves (Holland 7 and Wolf 4).
It should be noted that Montenegro arrived in Tbilisi without its first-pick goalkeeper Dejan Lazovic, who had to undergo surgery, but he will be ready for the Olympic Games.
Japan – Georgia 12:13 (3:3, 2:4, 6:5, 1:1)
Japan:Inaba 5, Okawa 4, Arai 2, Shiga 1.
Georgia: Baraldi 5, Bitadze 4, Jelaca 1, Shushiashvili 1, Magrakvelidze 1, Vapenski 1.
Extra player shots: Japan 4/6, Georgia 3/6. Penalty shots: Japan 1/1.
Georgia debuted at the World League Final Eight with a narrow win over Japan. The hosts led for most of the time. In the middle of the third quarter, Georgia earned a 3-goal advantage (9:6). But, the persistent Japanese never give up. They managed to equalize three times (10:10, 11:11, 12:12). In the 28th minute, Marko Jelaca converted a man-up to give Georgia a 13:12 lead. It turned out that that was the final score.
Fabio Baraldi led the Georgians with five goals. Yusuke Inaba scored five for Japan. Andria Bitadze (Georgia) and Keigo Okawa netted four each.