The playoffs of the European U17 Championships in Malta saw three breathtaking matches. Winners were decided in the final seconds or in a penalty shootout.
Italy was five goals down, but it made a magnificent comeback and defeated Russia in a penalty shootout (17:16). The Netherlands ousted Germany with a last-gasp goal, scored just four seconds from the end (10:9). Greece secured the quarterfinals with a narrow victory over Romania in a low-scoring game (5:4).
Croatia was the only team that recorded a convincing win today, as it demolished Georgia (17:4).
Quarterfinals (September 16): Netherlands – Serbia, Italy – Spain, Croatia – Hungary, Greece – Montenegro
Netherlands – Germany 10:9 (3:1, 0:1, 3:4, 4:3)
Netherlands: Snel 4, Ten Broek 2, Wouters 1,Heitink 1, Reijchard 1, Ketelaars 1 .
Germany: Grosse 2, Mancini 2, Dyck 2, Rehm 2, Lautenbach 1.
The Netherlands stared better and built a 3:1 in the first quarter. Still, the Germans found their rhythm after the first break, and started coming back slowly. Deep into the third quarter, Germany went ahead (6:5). However, the Dutch equalized before the last pause and opened the fourth quarter with a goal for 7:6. Germany responded with two goals and retook the lead (8:7) in the middle of the quarter. That was followed by a quick exchange of goals. The Germans had a 9:8 advantage two minutes from the end. Reijchard leveled at 9:9 with 107 seconds remaining on the clock. After that, both teams missed a few chances. The Netherlands had the last possession in the match. Nine seconds before the end, their coach Mitrovic called a time out while Marnick Snel beat the buzzer. He scored for10:9 four seconds from time, and the Dutch advanced to the quarterfinals.
Russia – Italy 16:17 (4:2, 3:1, 2:4, 0:2, PSO 7:8)
Russia: Ziuzin 5 (2 in PSO), Golubkov 4 (2), Alekseev 3 (1), Safonov 2 (1), Kravchenko 1 (1), Deviatkin 1.
Italy: Provenziani 5 (3), Bragantini 4 (1), Serino 3 (2),Agnolet 2,Somma 2 (2), Casanova 1 (1).
Italy came back from the dead to beat Russia and continue battling for medals.
Russia dictated the pace from the beginning and had a 7:3 lead at halftime. Deviatkin stretched the margin to five (8:3) in the 19th minute, and few believed that Italy could come back. But, the young “Settebello” were able to perform a miracle. By the end of the third period, they cut the deficit (7:9).
Both teams played well in defense in the final quarter, so there were no goals for a while. The Russians were keeping a 9:7 advantage, and it seemed that they would record a win. Luca Provenziani found the net 34 seconds before the end for 8:9. Russia lost the ball in the next possession, and Provenziani added one more goal to equalize – 9:9 with just 12 seconds to go. The match entered the shootout.
A long series of penalty shots was ended in the 9th round. Safonov missed, while Casanova scored for 17:16. Italy will face Spain in the quarterfinals. It will be a replay of the final at the previous championships in Baku. Two years ago, Italy defeated Spain and won the gold medal.
Croatia – Georgia 17:4 (0:0, 7:1, 4:1, 6:2)
Croatia: Tiozzo 4, Mozara 3, Cumbelic 3, Bakaric 2, Burdjelez 1, Stojanac 1, Omrcen 1,Radan 1, Jankovic 1.
Georgia: Akhvlediani 2, Chikovani 1, Sturua 1.
Croatia was the favorite against Georgia, although the Georgians played well in the group stage. Croatia’s victory was expected, but it was a strange match. After a goalless first period, five goals were scored in the first two minutes of the second quarter Croatia’s Tiozzo gave Croatia a 1:0 lead, but Akhvlediani responded immediately. However, the Croats started dominating shortly after. They scored three goals in 51 seconds for 4:1, and continued a series. Croatia jumped to an 11:1 lead and never looked back.
Greece – Romania 5:4 (2:1, 1:3, 1:0, 1:0)
Greece:Kastrinakis 3, Almyras 1, Mathiopoulos 1.
Romania: Orsos 2, Gherghe 1, Neamtu 1.
Greece struggled, but it managed to beat Romania. The Romanians scored the first goal in the match, but Greece dictated the pace after that. The Greeks led 2:1 and 3:2. Romania scored two goals in a row in the middle of the second period. Gherghe scored an action goal for 4:3 in the 13th minute. However, it turned out that it was Romania’s last goal in the game.
The second half was a hard defensive battle. Mathiopoulos scored the only goal in the third period to level at 4:4. A minute and 37 seconds before the end, Greece forced a penalty shot. Captain Andreas Almyras took responsibility. He sent the ball into the net from the 5m line for 5:4. Greece kept the minimal advantage in the remaining time and took a ticket for the quarterfinals.
Ukraine – Belarus 10:6 (2:2, 4:1, 2:2, 2:1)
Ukraine:Kyslenko 4, Sokolov 2, Hupalovskyy 2, Liubinskyi 1, Bahriy 1.
Belarus: Averka 3, Hirdziuk 1, Haluza 1, Streltsov 1.
Malta – Turkey 13:11 (2:4, 0:2, 1:2, 5:0, PSO 5:3)
Malta: Fenech 4 (1 in PSO), Gialanze 2 (1),Rizzo 2 (1), Cutajar 2 (1), Caruana 1,Cachia 1, Misfud 1 (1)
Turkey:Sayli 5 (1), Kuloglu 4 (1), Sari 1, Caner 1 (1)
Ukraine and Malta will play in the 13th-place match. That game and the match for 15th place are scheduled for Saturday.
Netherlands – Serbia (12:00)
Italy – Spain (16:00)
Croatia – Hungary (17:30)
Greece – Montenegro (19:00)
Classification for 9th-12th place
Germany – Georgia (9:00)
Russia – Romania (10:30)
Pairings for the semifinals: Netherlands or Serbia – Croatia/Hungary, Italy/Spain – Greece/Montenegro