Montenegro, Spain, Hungary, and Serbia won 1st places in their respective groups at the European U17 Championships in Malta and qualified for the quarterfinals.
Spain secured 1st place in Group B yesterday. Hungary finished atop Group C without big troubles. The Hungarians cemented 1st place with a convincing win over Germany today (13:5).
Montenegro and Serbia booked tickets for the quarterfinals after exciting matches on Day 3. Montenegro earned a point against Italy (9:9) with a goal scored just five seconds from time and finished 1st in Group A. Serbia edged out Greece in the derby of Group D (9:8).
The Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Russia, Germany, Greece and Georgia go to the playoffs (eighth-finals).
Pairings for the playoffs: Netherlands – Germany, Russia – Italy, Croatia – Georgia, Greece – Romania.
Montenegro – Italy 9:9 (3:1, 2:3, 2:3, 2:2)
Netherlands – Ukraine 18:4 (3:0, 5:0, 3:3, 7:1)
Montenegro earned a valuable point against Italy with a last-gasp goal and kept 1st place in the group. The Montenegrins were in front for most of the time. They had a 2-goal advantage several times (3:1, 4:2, 6:4). Still, the teams were tied at 7:7 before the final eight minutes.
Montenegro earned an 8:7 lead in the 27th minute, but Italy responded with two goals and went ahead (9:8) at 02:54. This result suited none of these two teams. If the Italians had won with a 1-goal difference, the Netherlands would have finished first in this group, Montenegro 2nd, and Italy 3rd. (The Dutch beat Italy 8:5, while they lost to Montenegro 7:8).
Both teams fought hard in the final minutes. Eighteen seconds from the end, Montenegro called a time out and set up a 7 on 6 . Goalkeeper Bjelica went in the attack. And the goalkeeper became a hero. Just five seconds before the final buzzer, Bjelica found the net for 9:9 and Montenegro secured 1st place and a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands taught Ukraine a lesson to confirm 2nd place.
1 Montenegro 3 – 7
2 Netherlands 3 – 6
3 Italy 3 – 4
4 Ukraine 3 – 0
Croatia – Romania 10:5 (2:1, 1:1, 4:2, 3:1)
Malta – Spain 10:16 (5:3, 1:2, 3:5, 1:6)
Spain secured 1st place in Group B yesterday.
The match Croatia – Romania was decisive for 2nd place. The Croats started well. They had a 2:0 and a 4:2 lead. Still, Romania managed to catch up with the favorite in the middle of the third quarter (4:4). But, Croatia dominated in the following minutes. The Croats scored six unanswered goals for 10:4. The Romanians just reduced the gap after Croatia’s series of goals.
An encounter between Spain and Malta finished the group stage. This game couldn’t affect the final standings in Group B, so both teams played without pressure. Malta played better until 7:5. Then, Spain scored four goals in a row, went to 9:7, and took control. The hosts didn’t give in. They equalized late into the third quarter (9:9). Still, they ran out of gas for the final quarter, so Spain recorded a comfortable victory.
1 Spain 3 – 9
2 Croatia 3 – 6
3 Romania 3 – 3
4 Malta 3 – 0
Germany – Hungary 5:13 (1:4, 3:3, 0:5, 1:1)
Russia – Belarus 16:7 (4:0, 4:1, 5:2, 3:4)
There was no excitement in the last two matches of Group C.
Hungary defeated Germany and finished the group play with a perfect 3-0 record. The Hungarians led throughout the match. After a 4:1 first quarter, the second period saw a balanced battle. The Germans reduced the gap to two goals twice (2:4, 4:6), but Hungary blew away the rival in the third period.
Russia finished in 2nd place after beating neighbor Belarus. The Russians were favorites, and they proved that with an excellent opening of the game. They earned a 7:0 advantage by the middle of the second period. Russia slowed down after that big lead to save energy for the playoffs.
1 Hungary 3 – 9
2 Russia 3 – 6
3 Germany 3 – 3
4 Belarus 3 – 0
Serbia – Greece 9:8 (2:2, 2:1, 3:4, 2:1)
Georgia – Turkey 12:10 (3:3, 2:2, 3:2, 4:3)
Serbia and Greece clashed in the game for 1st place in the group. As expected, it was a hard battle. The Greeks led only in the first quarter (1:0, 2:1), but the teams were neck and neck for most of the time. In the 22nd minute, Serbia built a 2-goal lead for the first time (7:5), but the Greeks equalized before the last break (7:7). The Serbs opened the fourth period with a goal for 8:7 and kept the minimal advantage for a while. The Greeks leveled at 8:8 in the 30th minute. Just 17 seconds before the end, Serbia’s Urosevic found the net for 9:8, and all questions were answered. Serbia needed just a point to stay atop because of a better goal difference.
Georgia made the trouble to Greece and Serbia in the first two rounds, but they were pointless before the last round, as well as Turkey, which suffered big defeats on the first two days. After a thrilling battle, Georgia secured third place and a spot in the playoffs, where it will face Croatia. There were a few twists and turns in the first two quarters. Still, at halftime, the score was 5:5. Turkey scored the first goal in the second half (6:5). Georgia responded with two for 7:6 and entered the final period with a slim 8:7 advantage. The Turks equalized in the 26th minute (8:8), but Georgia earned a 2-goal lead by the middle of the quarter (10:8). Turkey cut the deficit twice (9:10 and 10:11). Eleven seconds before the end, Georgia’s Kirikadi converted a 6 on 5 and decided everything – 12:10
1 Serbia 3 – 9
2 Greece 3 – 6
3 Georgia 3 – 3
4 Turkey 3 – 0
PO1:Netherlands – Germany
PO2:Russia – Italy
PO3:Croatia – Georgia
PO4: Greece – Romania
For classification 13th-16th, semifinals
Ukraine – Belarus
Malta – Turkey
Winner PO1 – Serbia
Winner PO2 – Spain
Winner PO3 – Hungary
Winner PO4 – Montenegro