Hungary Upsets Reigning Champ Croatia in Men’s Europa Cup Finals

Courtesy: LEN Media

Hungary stunned host and title-holder Croatia in the World League Europa Cup finals by winning a thrilling gold medal match in front of 2,000 fans in Zagreb. Spain beat Italy for the bronze and booked the last available Super Final berth.

Hungary is bouncing back from its embarrassing European Championship crash in Barcelona 2018 in style. After winning the World Cup in last September, the Magyars marched on to add another gold to their treasury by claiming the Europa Cup trophy in Zagreb this weekend.

Thanks to their goalkeeper Viktor Nagy, who delivered a series of outstanding saves, the Hungarians managed to keep the Croatians 1 for 15 in man-ups while making most of their chances in offense to win 10-8. Both teams qualified for the World League Super Final where the first Olympic berth shall be contested in June in Belgrade.

The Magyars sank Italy in the semis in a thriller (12-11), forcing the Settebello to play a hot bronze medal match with Spain for the remaining Super Final spot. The Spaniards kicked off their campaign in Zagreb with a huge 13-12 victory as they upset Olympic champion Serbia in the quarters and they only fell to Croatia in the last three minutes in the semis (9-12). And in the game for the third place they outplayed Italy to clinch the bronze medal (9-7) and book their place in the Super Final. The losing quarterfinalists, Montenegro, Greece, Russia (Serbia is excepted as the host) and the Italians can restart their Olympic qualification run at the World Championships in the summer.

Hungary’s Denes Varga was picked for the MVP award in Zagreb, while Croatia’s Marko Bijac received the trophy for the best goalkeeper.

Final rankings

1. Hungary, 2. Croatia, 3. Spain, 4. Italy, 5. Montenegro, 6. Serbia, 7. Greece, 8. Russia

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