Courtesy: LEN Media
Italy and Serbia already secured the top spots of their respective groups and a place in the quarter-finals. The Italians downed Hungary 12-5, it’s the Magyars’ worst ever defeat in 92 years at the European Water Polo Championships. The evening session saw a turnout of 3,500 fans already and many more to come.
The two sides met 80 years ago for the first time at the Europeans, they played 25 times before that encounter, Italy won 6 matches, by one or two goals each. This time they earned a 7-goal win, a record not only in the common history of the two sides but also for the Hungarians for all the wrong reasons. Beforehand, their 7-12 defeat by the Serbs in the 2014 final was their worst loss ever.
The Italians began the match where they finished against the Germans two days ago whom they beat 14-1. They simply blew the Hungarians away in ten minutes, gaining a 0-6 lead. Back in April something similar happened in Rijeka when they led 7-2 in the Europa Cup prelims, there the Magyars climbed back by the end of the match to lose 10-5.
This time the encounter took a different dimension as the Hungarians caught a fine spell, came back to 7-4, had a chance to cut the deficit to two before halftime then created five more brilliant opportunities but some tremendous saves from Marco de Lungo and the posts denied them. Then Valentino Gallo pulled his team out of the hole, scored after 9:54 minutes of silence and that pushed the game back where it was before. Having 4-8 on the scoreboard instead of 5-7 killed the Magyars’ momentum, they kept on wasting their chances (telling numbers: the shots on target was 14-24 to Italy) while Italy made the most of them, including a couple of easy counters. The next Hungarian goal came after another scoreless period of 15:51 minutes (they netted their first after 9:53min) and that was enough to set a negative record.
In the other matches title-holder Serbia found it a bit harder to beat the Russians as they might have expected, it stood 6-5 at halftime but three goals in 1:58 minutes early in the third did the damage and after 9-5 there was no way back for their rivals. The other favorites rolled on with ease, Montenegro and Croatia earned high scoring wins, Greece beat the Netherlands comfortably just as Romania did with Slovakia.
Germany and Georgia staged the day’s fiercest battle which most probably decided the third qualifying spot in Group A. Georgia took the better start, led by two goals deep into the second, then a double in 26sec put the Germans back to even. Still, the underdog side was ahead in the fourth at 7-8. They missed a man-up at 8-8 and after an exchange of goals, with 1:55 to go, Julian Real somehow pushed the ball behind the line to give a 10-9 lead for Germany. Georgia had another man-up but Moritz Schenkel saved the Germans and sent them to the next round.
The closing game – after the duel of Hungary and Italy – produced another fine battle, some 3,500 fans enjoyed the warm evening and Spain’s hard-fought win over France.
European Water Polo Championships, Day 5 – Men’s Round 2
Germany v Georgia 10-9
Hungary v Italy 5-12
1. Italy 6, 2. Hungary 3 (0), 3. Germany 3 (-12), 4. Georgia 0
Montenegro v Malta 17-5
Spain v France 7-4
1. Spain 6 (+20), 2. Montenegro 6 (+14), 3. France 0, 4. Malta 0
Greece v Netherlands 12-7
Croatia v Turkey 23-2
1. Greece 6 (+31), 2. Croatia 6 (+28), 3. Netherlands 0, 4. Turkey 0
Russia v Serbia 9-11
Romania v Slovakia 9-5
1. Serbia 6, 2. Russia 3 (+4), 3. Romania 3 (-2), 4. Slovakia 0
Fixtures, Day 6 – Women’s Round 4
14.00 Israel v Greece (A)
15.30 Germany v Turkey (B)
17.00 Italy v Croatia (A)
18.30 Netherlands v France (A)
20.30 Russia v Hungary (B)
22.00 Serbia v Spain (B)
Follow all games live and look for the detailed stats and play-by-play descriptions on www.len.eu.