Serbia and Spain will play in the gold medal match at the European Men’s U19 Championships in Podgorica.
The Serbs beat Hungary, and Spain was better than Greece in the semifinals.
Both duels were thrilling contests. Serbia defeated Hungary after a penalty shootout – 18:17 (14:14 in regular time). For the second day in a row, Serbia celebrated a win after a penalty shootout (yesterday, it beat Italy in the quarterfinals), and again the key player was Serbia’s second goalie Petar Pajkovic, who posted two saves in the penalty drama.
The encounter between Spain and Greece ended after 32 minutes of play, but nothing was decided until the very end. Spain recorded a 12:11 victory. A goalkeeper was one of the heroes in this match too. Spain’s goalie Lopez saved an extra player shot from Greece’s player with five seconds to go, so his team avoided a penalty shootout.
The final and the bronze medal match are scheduled for Sunday.
Day 6 – Semifinals: Hungary – Serbia 17:18 (PSO), Greece – Spain 11:12. Classification 5th-8th place: Germany – Italy 6:9, Croatia- Montenegro 14:7.
For all the results and live scores, visit Total Waterpolo Arena
Serbia – Hungary 17:18 (5:4,4:3, 2:4,3:3, PSO 3:4)
Both Serbia and Hungary arrived in Podgorica as medal contenders. However, the Hungarians were the favorites in this match. Serbia has a younger team – almost all players are from the U18 squad that won silver at the World Championships in Belgrade. One year isn’t a small difference in this age.
But, the Serbs emerged as winners of a tremendous battle.
Serbia, which had great support from the fans in the stands, started very well and earned a 2:0 and 3:1 lead. However, the Hungarians found their rhythm. They scored four unanswered goals in 02:41 minutes and turned around the two-goal deficit to a 5:3 lead.
Early in the second period, the Serbs caught up with the rival – 5:5, but the Hungarians responded with three goals, went to 8:5, and Serbia had to start a new chase. Hungary was always almost ahead, but it was a great battle between two excellent teams, with lots of swimming, nice chances, shots. Both teams were well prepared for the game, although the Championships were coming to an end. They played as it was the start of the tournament.
In the third period, Serbia cut the deficit to one goal (8:9, 9:10), but the Hungarians replied both times. Still, Serbia leveled at the finish of the quarter. Kovacevic converted a double man-up for 11:11 with 28 seconds left on the clock. The teams were tied before the final quarter. But, Serbia entered the fourth period with 11 players, because captain Vasilije Martinovic, who was outstanding today (scored five goals), committed his third personal foul in the 23rd minute, and Maras was red-carded at the end of the quarter. On the other side, Hungary’s coach Nyeki had all 13 players available.
In the 26th minute, the third Serbian player was sent out. Baucalo committed his 3rd personal foul. Tatrai converted that man-up, firing the ball from 6 meters for a 12:11 lead (it was his third goal today). A minute after, the Hungarians had a nice opportunity to double their advantage. They had a counter-attack, but Virijevic saved a shot from Vigvari. The Hungarians paid for that mistake – Kojic leveled from an excellent distance shot (12:12), and the neck-and-neck race continued. In the 28th minute, Meszaros gave Hungary a 13:12 advantage. Urosevic made it 13:13 with 02:54 minutes to go. That goal was followed by a few missed chances and lost balls at both ends of the pool.
Serbia took its first lead in the second half 45 seconds before the final buzzer – after a very nice assist by Jaukovic, Dimitrijevic found the net from close range. But, Hungary earned an extra player with 25 seconds to go. Vince Vigvari took responsibility and sent the ball into the net for 14:14. Serbia couldn’t score in the remaining seven seconds and the drama continued.
Serbia’s first goalkeeper Radoslav Virijevic played very well today (14 saves), but head coach Stevanovic did the same he did yesterday in the quarterfinals. He switched the goalkeepers and sent Petar Pajkovic between the posts for the shootout. It turned out that it was a good move. Pajkovic posted two saves in the shootout (he blocked the shots from Meszaros in the 3rd and Lakatos in the 4th round). Only one Serbia’s player failed to score (Urosevic hit the crossbar in the third round), and the Serbs survived another penalty drama and qualified for the final.
Although he missed in the shootout, Viktor Urosevic was one of Serbia’s leaders today, with three goals, two assists, and two blocks. Vasilije Martinovic, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter, was the best scorer with five goals.
Meszaros scored four goals in regular time for Hungary. Molnar and Tatrai added three each.
Greece – Spain 11:12 (3:3, 2:3, 5:5, 1:1)
Greece led by a goal in the first quarter (1:0, 2:1, 3:2), but Spain dictated the pace for most of the match. The Spaniards leveled in the 8th minute (Valls converted a 6 on 5 for 3:3). They took a flying start into the second quarter. Between the 12th and 14th minute, Spain scored three unanswered goals and built a 6:3 lead. However, Greece started climbing back and reduced the gap to one at the finish of the first half (5:6).
The teams traded goals in the third period. Spain earned a 2-goal lead (7:5, 8:6, 9:7, 10:8), but the Greeks halved the distance on each occasion. Two minutes before the end, the Greeks failed to convert a double man-up and wasted a chance to level the score. But, shortly after, they earned a penalty shot. Gkillas didn’t make a mistake. He found the net from the 5m line and equalized (10:10). In the last minute of the third period, Greece wasted a great opportunity to grab an advantage. Georgaras tried to find the net from a close range with a lob, but he missed. At the other end of the pool, Spain forced an exclusion. Castro Fernandez hit the back of the net from the deep left and Spain entered the final period leading 11:10.
After ten goals in the third period, both teams played well in defense. Besides good defensive play, the factor that caused a low-scoring fourth period were mistakes and lost balls in the attack. Pouros leveled at 11:11 in the 27th minute. The next goal came in the 30th minute when Biel Gomila gave Spain a 12:11 lead. But, Gerard Gil deserved credit for this goal, too. Gomila scored after Gil’s smart assist.
There were no goals in the last two minutes. Greece had the last chance. They had a man-up in the last attack. But Alegre Lopez saved a shot from Pouros with five seconds left on the clock and Spain went to the final match.
Robert Lopez Duart , who scored three goals, with two steals and one assist, was the best player of the game. Greece’s Nikolaos Gkillas topped the scorers’ list with five goals, but it wasn’t enough for a win.
15th-place match: Czech Republic – Slovakia (14:30)
13th-place match: Romania – Turkey (16:00)
11th-place match: France – Georgia (17:30)
9th-place match: Netherlands – Malta (19:00)
Playoff round, September 21
Playoff match 1: Netherlands – Germany 10:11
Playoff match 2: Greece – Malta 8:3
Playoff match 3: Italy – France 10:5
Playoff match 4: Montenegro – Georgia 13:8
Quarterfinals, September 22
Quarterfinal 1: Germany – Hungary 1:22
Quarterfinal 2: Greece – Croatia 8:7
Quarterfinal 3: Italy – Serbia 11:12
Quarterfinal 4: Montenegro – Spain 8:10
Semifinals, September 23
Hungary – Serbia 17:18
Greece – Spain 11:12
Follow the live scores of all games on Total Waterpolo Arena
Medal matches, September 25
Bronze medal match: Hungary – Greece (17:30)
FINAL: Serbia – Spain (19:00)
5th-place match: Italy – Croatia (16:00), 7th-place match: Greece – Montenegro (14:30)