Whether you like close games or big victories, the final two games at the World Cup in Athens had something for everyone.
Spain managed to secure a full-house of wins in the Greek capital, upsetting the hosts in a penalty-shoot-out. After a tense game, the teams needed to be separated by shots from the 5m line, and for the second consecutive game, the Greeks were on the wrong end of the result.
Then in the evening, Hungary humiliated Italy by ten goals in a bizarrely one-sided game. The Magyars were dominant from the first whistle to the last., while Italy were flat footed and tired.
Earlier today, the Netherlands defeated Team USA for the first time since their legendary Olympic Gold Medal match in Beijing, while Australia took their second victory of the week against China. You can read about those games in this report.
With two weeks of incredibly high level water polo coming to an end, we know the six teams who will be heading to Long Beach for the World Cup Finals in June. Eight teams from Division 2 are in contention for two berths to Long Beach. They are: Israel, South Africa, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Great Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan and New Zealand.
Qualified from Division 1 (in order of ranking): Netherlands, United States, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Greece.
Day 1, Women’s World Cup 2023 Athens– Group B
Spain 18 – 17 Greece (3-4, 5-4, 1-1, 4-4, PSO: 5-4)
Spain: L. Ester, C. Nogue, P. Prats, B.Ortiz, N. Perez, P. Crespi, E. Ruiz, P. Pena, A. Ruiz, P. Camus, M. Garcia, P. Leiton, M. Terre
Greece: E. Sotireli, E. Fountotou, S. Santa, N. Eleftheriadou, M. Plevritou, E. Xenaki, E. Ninou, E. Elliniadi, F. Angelidi, V. Plevritou, A. Giannopoulou, M. Myriokefalitaki, I. Stamatopoulou
Greece fell to a sudden death penalty shoot-out for the second consecutive game, suffering defeat in their final World Cup game against Spain (18-17).
Both teams could not be separated after 32 minutes, with the exciting game ending in a 13-13 draw. After several missed penalties, Vasiliki Plevritou came up short and saw her penalty stopped well by Martina Terre.
The game itself was a really close encounter and probably the best performance that the Greeks had put in all week, showing excellent determination to keep Spain under pressure throughout the contest.
Spain were once again short of their best, but they were on fire with numerical superiority, led by the four goals from Bea Ortiz.
It was a sleepy start for Spain, who found themselves 2-0 down pretty quickly in the first period. When the European champions eventually clicked into gear, they scored the next three strikes (Ortiz 2, Crespi). Greece’s fortunes looked like they might have taken a turn for the worse when Athina Giannopoulou missed from the 5m line, but she made amends later and, with the first goal of the game from Eleftheriadou, put her side back in front before the end of the first period (4-3).
The game turned into a goal feast in the second period; it seemed that every time Spain found a goal, Greece had an instantaneous response – from 4-4 through to halftime with the scores at 8-8. That trend spilled over into the third period (9-9) and further into the final quarter (12-12).
Then, for a moment, it looked like the hosts would take revenge for their defeat in the European Championships final in Split, with Eleni Xenaki converting an extra-player move with 0:33 seconds left in the match. However, Spain, and Ariadna Ruiz, once again dug deep and found a late equalizer with 0:04 seconds to go.
In the penalty shoot-out, it looked like the game would be over rather quickly, with Spain missing their first two penalty shots. The Greeks soon came a cropper too, with four players missing the mark, handing Spain a third win in Athens.
Day 1, Women’s World Cup 2023 Athens– Group B
Italy 3 – 13 Hungary (1-4, 1-6, 0-1, 1-2)
Italy: A. Condorelli, C. Tabani, G. Galardi, S. Avegno, L. Cergol, D. Bettini, D. Picozzi, V. Gant, V. Palmieri, C. Marletta, A. Cocchiere, G. Viacava, C. Banchelli
Hungary: A. Magyari, D. Szilagyi, V. Valyi, G. Gurisatti, G. Mahieu, R. Parkes, Z. Mate, P. Tiba, D. Leimeter, N. Rybanska, K. Hajdu, K. Garda, B. Neszmely
In the last game of the competition in Athens, Hungary thrashed Italy by ten scores (13-3).
It was one of the most one-sided games of the tournament, as an inspired and formidable Hungary side really took the Italians apart. If you can score well, and defend bravely, you’re always going to enjoy a match, and the Hungarians did both. It’s back to the drawing board for Italy, who looked flabbergasted, tired, and nothing like the team that defeated Spain in Rotterdam.
The game was finished as a contest before half-time, with the Hungarians reaching double-digits and only conceding twice in sixteen minutes. Kata Hajdu, who has had a mixed season, was in ruthless form, scoring three times. Hungary’s young keeper, Boglarka Neszmely, had a blinder in between the sticks with a 77% save ratio.
Hungary played a confident first eight minutes against an Italy side that lacked focus and cohesion. Three scores on the spin, one from Valyi, and two from UVSE teenagers Kata Hajdu and Panna Tiba, gave the Magyars the lead they deserved.
There was no let-up for the Setterosa in the second period, with Hungary’s Rebecca Parkes slotting home a fine goal from centre, and Greta Gurisatti powering a penalty past Florentia’s keeper, Caterina Banchelli. Before half-time, the game looked beyond Italy, via a brilliant improvised score from Parkes. Formidable braces from Rybanska and Hajdu further made the game even more one-sided (11-2).
With the game completely dead as a competitive spectacle, the Hungarians continued their hunt for goals. Italy’s only goal in the second half was Domitilla Picozzi’s 5m penalty.
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