Day seven of the Women’s European Junior Championships did not disappoint as we were treated to the best day of water polo at this competition so far. As we reach the business end of the competition, all the games were incredibly competitive and made for excellent viewing for all spectators.
The big story of the day is that the winners of the last two competitions, Spain, are out of the running after a narrow but surprising defeat to Italy. The Italians were deserved winners and will face Greece tomorrow after the Greeks beat the hosts Croatia for the opportunity to play for the Gold medal.
The other semi-final tomorrow sees old rivals, Hungary and Russia, battle for the second spot in the final. Hungary booked their place in the semi-final with an expected but impressive victory over the in-form Israel, while Russia confirmed their place in the semi-final with a hard-earned win over the Dutch.
Israel 7-13 Hungary (2-4, 2-3, 2-4, 1-2)
Israel’s fairytale European campaign has finally come to an end as Hungary had just too much quality for the side from the far east of Europe. Panni Szegedi led the line with distinction, netting four times, which sees her side through to yet another European semi-final. Israel will need to recover quickly from this gutting defeat, as a big effort is needed tomorrow against the Netherlands if they are to finish fifth.
Croatia 7-13 Greece (0-3, 4-3, 2-3, 1-4)
Any chance of the hosts Croatia making the semi-finals were dashed by a formidable Greek side. Despite being level at 6-6 in the third, it was Greece’s captain, Foteini Tricha, with five goals that made all the difference in this one, as her side looks to medal for the first time since 2015. Greece hasn’t really been talked about as potential winners, but they have a huge chance to medal when they face Italy tomorrow.
Netherlands 10-14 Russia (3-5, 1-3, 2-4, 4-2)
Mikhail Nakoryakov’s Russia have demonstrated why they are amongst the best water polo nations in the world with a deserved victory over the Netherlands. Noa De Vries bagged four goals for the Dutch, but it was not enough to see them through. Savisko, Guskova, Koptseva Bunakova and Sharafutdinova were all on target as Russia hope to go one better a win gold this time around. Russia may well be favourites for the tournament now, but they’ll have their work cut out in their semi-final against Hungary tomorrow.
Italy 11-10 Spain (2-1, 3-3, 3-3, 3-3)
Spain will not win a third Women’s European Junior Championship as they crash out at the quarter-finals to Italy. Despite leading for most of the game, Italy found themselves a goal down with four minutes left to play. But after an excellently called time-out from Giacomo Grassi, and subsequent goals from Morena Leone and Paola Di Maria, Italy look well on track to match their third-place finish from 2019. This result is hugely disappointing for the Spaniards, who take immense pride in their junior teams. They were the favourites to win the tournament before a game was played, but the best they can hope for now is a fifth-place finish.
Today’s Other Results:
Germany 13-9 Slovakia (3-3, 2-3, 4-1, 4-2)
Serbia 7-15 France (0-5, 3-4, 2-4, 2-2)
Turkey 6-14 Romania (0-5, 2-2, 0-3, 4-3)
Tomorrow’s fixtures (CET):
09:00 – Romania vs Great Britain – 17th-18th Place Match
10:30 – Malta vs Bulgaria – 15th-16th Place Match
12:00 – Czech Republic vs Ukraine – 13th-14th Match
16:30 – Israel vs Netherlands – 5th-8th Semi-Final Match
18:00 – Croatia vs Spain – 5th-8th Semi-Final Match
19:30 – Hungary vs Russia – Semi-Final Match
21:00 – Greece vs Italy – Semi-Final Match