The first day of the European U17 Championships in Malta offered a lot of excitement and a first surprise of the tournament.
The Netherlands upset reigning champion Italy. The Dutch beat the Italians with a three-goal difference (8:5).
An encounter between Croatia and Spain was the derby of the day. Spain secured an 8:7 victory with two goals in a thrilling finish.
Hungary defeated Russia by two goals (13:11). Other favorites recorded convincing victories.
2021 European U17 Championships, Malta, Day 1
Montenegro – Ukraine 26:6 (6:1, 8:0, 5:2, 7:3)
Netherlands – Italy 8:5 (2:0, 3:1, 1:2, 2:2)
Montenegro passed its first hurdle easily. The Montenegrins blew away Ukraine and recorded the biggest win of the day (26:6).
The Netherlands defeated 2019 champion Italy and made the first big surprise at the Championship.
The Dutch shocked the reigning champion with a stunning start. They rushed to a 3:0 lead. Italy got on the scoreboard in the 10th minute, but the Netherlands responded with two goals and built a 5:1 advantage by halftime. The Italians couldn’t recover from an opening shock. The Netherlands, led by Lars Josh Ten Broek (4 goals), controlled the match and recorded an 8:5 victory.
Day 2: Ukraine – Italy, Netherlands – Montenegro
Croatia – Spain 7:8 (1:0, 3:3, 2:2, 1:3)
Malta – Romania 7:9 (2:3, 2:2,1:3, 2:1)
The derby of day 1, Croatia-Spain, was an even contest from the first whistle until the end. The difference between the teams was never bigger than a goal. Still, Spain took the lead just twice during the first three quarters (3:2 and 5:4). Croatia had a slim advantage before the final eight minutes (6:5). Both sides scored a goal each in the first minute of the last period. Croatia had a 7:6 advantage and had a few good chances to double the advantage. But, Spain was able to come back and make a turn in the final two minutes. A minute and 51 seconds before the end, Spain’s Frigola leveled at 7:7. Just 40 seconds from the final buzzer, Gil Cedo converted a man-up to give Spain an 8:7 victory. This win will probably secure 1st place in the group. Spain won, but the best scorer was Croatia’s Mozara (3 goals).
Romania defeated host Malta. The Romanians dictated the pace, but the home team equalized midway through the third quarter (5:5). Romania scored three goals in a row and entered the final eight minutes leading 8:5. The fourth quarter belonged to Malta, but Romania saved all three points.
Day 2: Romania – Spain, Malta – Croatia
Russia – Hungary 11:13 (2:6, 2:1, 3:4, 4:2)
Germany – Belarus 18:9 (6:1, 5:2, 4:2, 3:4)
Hungary opened the match against Russia in a superb way. After less than seven minutes, the Hungarians had a 5:0 advantage. It proved crucial for their win, because Russia played well after the first break, but it couldn’t equalize. In the middle of the second quarter, Russia reduced the gap to two (4:6). However, Hungary regained a 4-goal lead in the third quarter (8:4). Russia didn’t give in. Four minutes before the end, Russia trailed 10:12. Hungary kept the distance until the end.
Germany found it easy to beat Belarus. By the middle of the second period, Germany earned a 9:1 advantage and killed all suspense. Till Hofmann netted six goals.
Day 2: Belarus – Hungary, Russia – Germany
Serbia – Turkey 17:3 (4:0, 5:0, 5:2, 3:1)
Georgia – Greece 7:11 (2:4, 1:1, 2:4, 2:2)
Serbia played excellently in defense and earned an 11:0 lead before Turkey scored its first goal. The Serbs dominated and cruised to a 17:3 victory.
Greece started slowly. Still, it recorded a 4-goal win over Georgia. The Georgians didn’t surrender easily. In the middle of the second quarter, only one goal separated the teams (Greece led 4:3). The Greeks found their rhythm soon and netted five straight goals for a 9:3 lead. After that, their win wasn’t in danger.
Day 2: Turkey – Greece, Georgia – Serbia.