Spain have retained their European title from two years ago after narrowly defeating Greece 9-6 in the gold medal match in Split.
Miki Oca’s team are the fourth team to win back-to-back gold medals at the European Championships, after the Netherlands (1985, 1987, 1989), Italy (1995, 1997, 1999) and Russia (2006, 2008, 2010).
Spain were too clinical in the match for Greece, but the Greeks will rue missing two penalties that could well have made all the difference in the game. Maica Garcia and Elena both scored braces, while Martina Terre made some outstanding saves in the game.
Greece did well to get back into the game in the last quarter, but ultimately a bad start costed Alexia Kammenou’s team today. This result caps off a horrible record for the Greeks in European Finals; playing four, and losing four.
35th European Women’s Championships, Gold Medal
Spain 9-6 Greece (3-0, 1-3, 1-0, 4-3)
Spain came out hard against the Greeks, moving the ball with real intensity. Within a short time, they had a 3-0 advantage.
Elena Ruiz scored with her first shot of the game, hammering off the left-hand post before going in, before twenty-year-old Nona Perez was allowed to drive into space and slot past Ioanna Stamatopoulou.
Eleftheria Plevritou’s penalty kick from 5 metres out presented Greece with a golden opportunity to cut the deficit in half, but Martina Terre made a spectacular save. Moments later, Annie Espar scored a screamer on the left side with a powerful and precise cross-cage shot, punishing Greece while they were down.
In the second quarter, Greece eventually found their first goal through Ioanna Chydirioti. The first player Olympiacos signed this summer found some space to work with at the back post and scored to get the team going. A minute later, Greece’s captain, Margarita Plevritou, added her team’s second goal with a halo shot over Terre’s head, cancelling out Paula Leiton’s fantastic goal from the centre of the field.
The game then slowed and there wasn’t much action in front of the goal. However, Alexia Kammenou’s team scored the next goal when young Christina Siouti beat Terre with a smart shot at the near post. At the half-time break, the Greeks had recovered from being 3-0 down to trailing by only a single goal, 4-3.
Much of the third quarter was nip and tuck, with much of the action taking place in the midfield, but we then saw two penalties awarded, and two missed. Vasiliki Plevritou squandered the chance to pull her team level, while Annie Espar, one of the most reliable scorers in the women’s game, fired her shot to the right-hand post.
But Spain were awarded another penalty, somewhat controversially, and this time, Elena Ruiz made no mistake, launching the ball high into the top-right hand corner; out of the reach of Martina Terre.
Although Greece was trailing, they were still creating chances. Christina Siouti and Eleftheria Plevritou nearly pulled a goal back for Greece—both hitting the post from long-range attempts.
In the last quarter, Eleni Xenaki made full use of the instructions that her coach gave her during a timeout; she fired home from the post in an extra-player scenario, but she could only sit and admire her opposite centre-forward, Maica Garcia, as she scored a perfect centre-forward goal, turning and finishing in style (6-4).
Greece, however, showed an awful lot of character to pull level, with a gorgeous Eleftheria Plevritou lob, and then a tap-in for Ioanna Chydirioti at the back post, for her second goal in the match.
But Spain found a way past Greece, adding three goals to seal the gold medal. Bea Ortiz hit a deadly shot from 5 metres, before Maica Garcia converted from centre-forward. With less than a minute to go, Annie Espar rubbed salt in Greek wounds, hitting the target from a narrow left-hand side angle.
LEN Player Awards
Top goal scorer – Greta Gurisatti (Hungary)
Best Goalkeeper – Martina Terre (Spain)
MVP of the Tournament – Eleftheria Plevritou (Greece)
Read more about the European Championships