Spain and Serbia clinch top spots
Spain finished atop in Group A, ahead of Montenegro, thanks to its better goal-difference. The Serbs struggled against France in the first half but showed their strength in the second part. Croatia set the single-game scoring record against Malta by netting 22 goals. Among the women, Russia downed Greece by an unexpected margin of 10 goals and Turkey managed to score its first ever European goal against Hungary.
The Montenegrins couldn’t make another minor miracle: after coming back from 6-8 against Spain two days ago in the last 74 seconds they started the match against Slovakia knowing that a 14-goal difference would be needed to finish atop in Group A. At halftime they seemed to get close to this target as they build a massive 9-goal lead thanks to a 6-0 routing in the second period. However, the second half of the game was absolutely even, the Slovaks fought hard, the Montenegrins could score only 3 goals compared to the 12 they netted in the first two periods. Thus they had to settle for the second place in the group with a possible showdown against Italy in the quarters in sight.
In the previous match the Spain set the bar high by beating the Dutch 15-4 thanks to a really fine opening (5-0) and final period (5-1). Top scorer of the 2014 Europeans, Albert Espanol led their charge with 5 goals (he even missed a penalty at the end) but credits also go to Dani Lopez in the Spanish goal who posted a magnificent 69.2% saving percentage stopping 9 of the 13 shots.
Counting had a different meaning in the other group: it was about the number of goals the two favourites scored against the weaker sides of the quartet. The Croats geared up against the Maltese despite the early morning start and downed them 22-2. This is so far the single-game scoring record in the tournament, one better than the Greeks’ festival against Turkey (21-6).
In the last match of the day the Serbs a bit of shocked their fans by trailing against the French after eight minutes (3-4) and Andrija Prlainovic just beat the buzzer before the middle break to put them ahead by halftime (7-6). Order was reinstated in the second half, however, though Ugo Crousillat levelled the score for the last time at the beginning of the third, the hosts tightened their defence and shut out their rivals for the following 10:19 minutes while scoring 7 goals in a row. With a 6-1 last period they finally managed to widen the gap to the expected measure (16-8).
The women’s competition didn’t bring too much excitement this time – which was somewhat surprising as a more balanced match was expected from the Russians and the Greeks. However, Russia was 8-3 up by halftime and they never looked back, what’s more, with a brilliant last period (7-2) they simply thrashed the Greeks by 10 goals (16-6).
The Netherlands and Hungary held a shooting parade. The Dutch downed the Portuguese 28-2, while Hungary produced the same winning margin against Turkey. Lieke Klaassen topped the Dutch scoring list with 5 hits. Among the Magyars, Hanna Kisteleki and Rita Keszthelyi tied the individual scoring record of the Europeans netting 6 goals apiece – however, the big news was that the Turks could get on the scoreboard at last. After two games without a single goal now the championships’ newcomers managed to hit their first ever European goal, thanks to Malek Cavlak who sent the ball home from a 6 on 5 late in the second period.
Results, Day 5
Spain v Netherlands 15-4, Montenegro v Slovakia 15-6
1. Spain 7 (36-16), 2. Montenegro 7 (36-20), 3. Netherlands 3, 4. Slovakia 0
Croatia v Malta 22-2, France v Serbia 8-16
1. Serbia 9, 2. Croatia 6, 3. France 3, 4. Malta 0
Netherlands v Portugal 28-2, Hungary v Turkey 17-1, Russia v Greece 16-6
Classification after 3 rounds
1. Russia 9, 2. Netherlands 9, 3. Hungary 6, 4. Greece 3, 5. Portugal 0, 6. Turkey 0
Press release from LEN
Images courtesy of Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia