Italy and Spain are the first teams that qualified for the World Cup Final from Division 1.
Italy secured at least 2nd place in Group A in Zagreb, while Spain can’t finish lower than 3rd place in Podgorica.
The Italians continued their winning streak with an 11:8 victory over France today. Croatia defeated Japan convincingly (14:8) and stayed in the race for the only remaining F8 berth in the group in Zagreb.
Italy is the only unbeaten team in Division 1 because Spain was defeated today. Still, the Spaniards didn’t leave the pool empty-handed.
Serbia upset Spain with a 14:13 victory after a penalty shootout. It was the first match in this season’s World Cup that ended in a draw. Spain opened the game excellently, with a 5:0 lead. Still, the young Serbian team produced a quick comeback, scoring four goals in less than five minutes, and leveled at 5:5. At the finish, Serbia had a 2-goal lead, but Spain saved a match in a draw. Serbia won two, and Spain one point. Both teams could be satisfied with the outcome because they are on a good way to California.
Both games played in Podgorica today were very exciting. Montenegro edged out Australia 12:11 and kept chances of reaching 3rd place.
Greece ran over Australia (20:5) in the second match of Day 4 in Podgorica.
France – Italy 8:11 (5:2, 1:6, 0:2, 2:1)
France: Fontani, Guerin , Crousillat 1, Bouet, Khasz, Vernoux 3, Zivkovic 1, Bjorch 1, Marzouki 1, Canovas 1, Vanpeperstraete, De Nardi, Rossi. Head coach: Bruzzo.
Italy: Del Lungo, Di Fulvio, Damonte 2, Marziali, Alesiani, Cannella 1, Renzuto 1, Iocchi Gratta, N.Presciutti, Bruni 1, Di Somma 5, Dolce 1, Massaro. Head coach: Campagna.
France played against Italy in the same way as against all other favorites in the tournament in Zagreb. The beginning was excellent, but the French couldn’t keep a good rhythm throughout the game. Moreover, as in the games against Croatia and Hungary, the French’s resistance was broken already in the second quarter.
Italy took an opening 1:0 and 2:1 lead. But, the French scored four goals in the last three minutes of the first quarter to earn a 5:2 advantage. However, France didn’t keep the momentum after the first break. Italy did something similar as it did against Croatia yesterday when it secured a 14:13 win thanks to a 7:1 fourth quarter.
Italy completely outplayed France in the second quarter. The “Settebello’s” defense, commanded by Marco Del Lungo (who posted 15 saves today), was almost perfect. The Italians, led by Edoardo Di Somma, did a great job in the attack. By the middle of the second quarter, they erased the deficit (5:5). Shortly after, Italy earned a 2-goal lead (7:5). After five consecutive goals by the Italians, Canovas scored for 6:7 in the 15th minute. But, after that, Italy kept France scoreless for almost 14 minutes. By the end of the third period, Italy stretched the margin to four (10:6).
Duje Zivkovic ended France’s goalless phase with a goal from a penalty shot in the 29th minute (7:10). Still, there was no way back for the French. Two minutes before the end, Vincenzo Renzuto Iodice made it 11:7. Vernoux scored a consolation goal for France three seconds from the end.
Croatia – Japan 14:8 (5:2, 5:3, 4:1, 0:2)
Croatia: Popadic, Buric 1, Fatovic 5, Krapic 1, Lazic, Bukic 1, Butic, Zuvela, Marinic Kragic 3,Duzevic 1, Kharkov 1, Cubranic. Head coach: Tucak.
Japan: Sasano, Adachi 2, Watanabe 1, Ogihara, Nitta, Suzuki, Date 1, Takata 1, Arai, Inaba 2, Okawa, Araki 1, Nishimura. Head coach: Shiota
Croatia’s coach Ivica Tucak rested first-pick goalkeeper Marko Bijac in the match against Japan. Still, even without one of the best players in the world, the hosts recorded a routine victory. In the first quarter, the Croats hit the posts four times, but still, earned a 5:2 lead. After the first break, Croatia led 5:2. Japan went in front just once – 2:1, and after that, Croatia finished the quarter with four straight goals.
At the beginning of the second period, the Asians reduced the gap to 3:5. However, Croatia responded with a 3:0 run and gained an 8:3 lead. Until the end of the third period, the hosts dictated the pace. In the fourth period, they slowed and saved energy for Tuesday’s crucial match against Hungary.
Tomorrow, Croatia will have a day off.
1. Italy 4 games – 12 points
2. Croatia 4 – 9
2. Hungary 3 – 6
4. USA 3 – 6*
5. France 4 – 0
6. Japan 4 – 0
*The USA is already qualified for the Final Eight as the host
Day 6 (March 13)
USA – Hungary (18:30)
Japan – France (20:30)
Croatia and Italy bye
Left-handed goal-getter Gergo Zalanki joined the Hungarian team in Zagreb. He has been on the roster since the beginning of the tournament as a reserve. Zalanki trained in Budapest in the past few days. The plan was that he would come to Croatia only if necessary.
Since Hungary’s captain Szilard Jansik is out of the team due to injury (problems with his neck), Zalanki arrived in Zagreb.
Spain – Serbia 13:14 (3:0, 2:5, 2:2, 2:2, PSO 4:5)
Spain: Aguirre 1, Barroso 2, Sanahuja 4, De Toro, Gomila, Famera 1, Cabanas, Tahull, Perrone, Mallarach 1, Bustos, Lorrio. Head coach: Martin.
Serbia: Mitrovic, Mandic 3, S. Rasovic 1, Randjelovic, Lazic 1, Radulovic 1, Drasovic, V.Rasovic 1, Stanojevic, Ubovic 1, Milojevic 1, Vucinic, Misovic. Head coach: Stevanovic
Penalty shootout: Perrone 1:0, Mandic 1:1, Sanahuja 2:1, Milojevic 2:2, Barrosso 3:2, Vucinic 3:3, Munarriz – Misovic saved, Rasovic 3:4, Cabanas 4:4, Drasovic 4:5.
The duel was the clash of two gold medalists. Spain is the reigning world champion, and Serbia is the Olympic champion. Despite these facts, the Spaniards were the favorites, considering the experience and quality of the players on both teams’ rosters.
Spain dominated in the first 12 minutes. It seemed that the favorite would cruise to an easy win. The Spaniards’ defense was superb, keeping Serbia from getting into good positions to score. The attack worked well, and step by step, they built a big advantage. In the 11th minute, Munarriz scored from a penalty to make it 5:0.
But Serbia produced a quick comeback, scoring five goals in 04:04 minutes. The Serbs got on the scoreboard after Viktor Rasovic scored from a 6 on 5 for 1:5 and pulled the trigger. In the following four minutes, Dusan Mandic scored two goals, Stanojevic and Radulovic added one each, and Serbia leveled at 5:5 with 12 seconds left on the clock in the second quarter.
The Serbs’ defense was better and better. Branislav Mitrovic discouraged Spain’s goal-getters with a series of excellent saves. In the second half, Neither of the sides could score for a long At the middle break, Lorrio replaced Aguirre in front of Spain’s goal and caught several very dangerous shots. Spain’s Mallarach broke the deadlock by scoring with an extra player in the 22nd minute. After that, Serbia wasted a 6 on 4, but Rasovic netted an equalizer a little later. Barroso gave Spain a 7:6. Still, before the final quarter, the sides were tied at 7:7, as Milojevic closed the quarter with a power-play goal at 00:22.
Dusan Mandic put the Olympic champions in front, scoring a nice backhander at the beginning of the final quarter. In the following minutes, both teams finished a few attacks rashly and lost balls. Nemanja Ubovic doubled Serbia’s advantage in the 29th minute from 2 meters after a great long pass from Djordje Vucinic.
Spain responded with two power-play goals. Barroso halved the deficit. Sanahuja scored his 4th goal to equalize (9:9) with 01:10 minutes to go. Nobody found the net in the last 70 seconds, and the match was prolonged in the penalty shootout.
All scorers found the net in the first three series of shots. Before the fourth round, Uros Stevanovic sent young Vladimir Misovic to replace Branislav Mitrovic, who was excellent in the second half. Misovic saved a shot from Munarriz. After that, there were no misses and saves, and Serbia celebrated a 14:13 victory.
Just as in yesterday’s match against Montenegro, Branislav Mitrovic, who posted 12 saves, was voted MVP. But he gifted the trophy to Vladimir Misovic, who saved a crucial penalty shot.
Winning one point, Spain booked the ticket for California, while Serbia probably won’t finish the tournament lower than third place.
Until the end of Group B, both teams will play against rivals from the lower half of the table – Spain will face Australia, while Serbia will finish the tournament with a match against Georgia.
Montenegro – Australia 12:11 (2:2, 4:4, 4:5, 2:0)
Montenegro: Tesanovic, Da. Radovic 1, Macic, Averka 1, Cuckovic, Popadic 1, Vidovic 1, Ukropina, Perkovic 3, Cetkovic 1, Matkovic 2, V.Radovic 1, Djurovic. Head coach: Gojkovic.
Australia: Porter, Berehulak 1, G.Ford 1, Negus, Power 3, Lambie 2, Pavillard 1, McJannett, Mardsen 1, Putt, Poot, Edwards 2, Hedges. Head coach: Hamill.
Each side scored two goals in the first quarter. Montenegro took control in the second quarter and quickly jumped to a 5:2 lead. However, Australia was able to come back and cut the deficit to one (4:5) in the 15th minute. Immediately after, Perkovic doubled the hosts’ advantage with a man-up. However, Power replied immediately also from a 6 on 5. The same player leveled at 6:6 with 22 seconds to go, so before the second half, the teams were in the same place where they were at the begining – in the same starting line.
The third quarter was similar to the previous one. Montenegro started better and pressured Australia’s defense. The hosts had several nice opportunities from close-range shots and it worked well. They led 8:6 and 9:7. However, Australia caught up with the rival. Edwards made it 9:9 from a penalty shot in the 21st minute. Averka gave the Montenegrins a 10:9 lead with an extra player, but the finish of the quarter belonged to the “Sharks”, who scored two goals in the last 45 seconds. Pavillard equalized with a man-up. Then Montenegro made a mistake in the attack, the “Aussies” started a counterattack, which was finished by Blake Edwards and Australia entered the fourth quarter leading 11:10.
After the third quarter, Montenegro’s coach Vladimir Gojkovic switched the goalkeepers – Djurovic replaced Tesanovic. That move shook up Montenegro’s defense, which worked well and didn’t let a single goal.
Australia couldn’t score, but it kept a slim lead until the 29th minute when Dusan Matkovic converted a man up into an equalizer – 11:11. Sixteen seconds before the end, Vasilije Radovic found a net from a distance, and Montenegro was in front again – 12:11. Still, Australia had a chance to level the score. Their head coach Tim Hammill called a time-out to set up a 7 on 6 (goalkeeper Porter went to the center-forward position). The “Sharks” failed to score. In the dying seconds, Averka blocked a shot from Poot, but the ball went to the Australian player again, and he attempted to score again. This time, Djurovic saved the shot and Montenegro’s victory.
Montenegro collected three points, but it still has a mountain to climb. The hosts will qualify for the final tournament if they beat one of the favorites, Greece.
1.Spain 4 games – 10 points
2. Serbia 4 – 8
3. Greece 3 – 6
4. Montenegro 4 – 6
5. Georgia 3– 3
6. Australia 4 – 0
Day 6 (March 13)
Greece – Georgia (17:30)
Australia – Spain (19:30)
Serbia and Montenegro bye
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