Russia is back after 13 years
Thirteen years after finishing 4th in Kranj, the Russian team managed to reach the best eight at the European Championships for the first time. The others are well-known ‘figures’ at this phase: today Italy, Hungary and Greece all cleared the hurdles with ease in the eight-finals. Among the women Spain and Italy warmed up with big wins for their clash, due in two days time.
The second batch of the men’s eight-finals didn’t see any upset: Italy and Hungary routed Turkey and Georgia respectively, while Greece proved its superiority over Romania by halftime. The last encounter promised the biggest battle but Russia outperformed the Germans in all fields of the game.
After a balanced opening period (2-2) and being 2-3 down early in the second, the Russians blasted three connecting goals from the distance in a span of 3:54 minutes for a 5-3 lead and added another one early in the third which did the harm. After 6-3 the Germans could never recover, at 6-4 had a crucial man-up after a time-out but they could not even take a shot and 26 seconds later Sergey Lisunov’s brilliant centre-goal virtually secured Russia’s win at 7-4. A period later it was sealed (9-6) and they could celebrate their first European quarter-final spot in 13 years – and also a place in the upcoming Olympic Qualification Tournament.
In the other men matches Italy did a clean job against Turkey, 4-0 they led after eight minutes. The Turks needed 22:24 minutes to hit their first, it was 10-0 by then, and it ended at 16-2. As usual, Italy offered a fine team effort, no players netted more than 3 goals.
Hungary blew the Georgians away quickly, rushed to 4-0 lead in 187 seconds and led 8-2 at halftime. They played with ease, won 14-2, Denes Varga led the charge with 3 fine action goals.
Medical staff-members were also involved to the match between Romania and Greece as it was a real fight, a red card also came out from the ref’s pocket (Georgios Dervisis was ejected) – but in the water polo part the Greeks were way better. Ioannis Fountoulis showed his unique skills for the first time in Belgrade, he scored 6 goals (from 8 shots), Alexandros Gounas netted 4, these two practically finished off the Romanians.
Romanian goalie, Dragos Stonescu couldn’t help his team this time in the goal, by the time he was substituted, he made a single save on 11 shots (9.1%). The Greeks also had some problems in the back as the Romanians came back from 2-5 to 5-5, but when their goalie Stefanos Galanopoulos was exchanged for Konstantinos Flegkas, the gap started to widen again. The Greek jumped to a 6-10 lead from 6-7 by halftime and there was no way back to the Romanians (9-15).
The women’s tourney saw the last series of ‘festive matches’ as in the last round of the prelims a couple of big battles are due and then come the quarter-finals. Today France beat the young Croats 14-3, Lea Bachelier netted 4 goals here. Spain let a last flood of goals bury the German net this time (26-3), Anna Espar scored 5 for the title-holders. And Italy did a clean job against Serbia (19-3), Gulia Emmolo had 4 goals to her name.
Results, Day 8
Italy v Turkey 16-2, Hungary v Georgia 14-3, Romania v Greece 9-15, Russia v Germany 9-6
Spain v Greece, Serbia v Russia, Italy v Montenegro, Hungary v Croatia
For places 9-16
Romania v Malta, Slovakia v Germany, Turkey v France, Georgia v Netherlands
Croatia v France 3-14, Spain v Germany 26-3, Serbia v Italy 3-19
1. Spain 12 (97-14), 2. Italy 12 (82-11), 3. France 6, 4. Germany 3, 5. Serbia 3, 6. Croatia 0
Press release from LEN
Images courtesy of Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia