The tiny country of Montenegro upset Hungary to reach the European Championship final tomorrow night. Their win sets up a final with more than just the European title on the line. Montenegro won 8-5 on the back of a tough defense and excellent goal keeping.
Montenegro will face Serbia, the country of which it was a part of just a decade ago. Serbia will be seeking to win it’s third straight championship in that final. While Serbia will be favored, Montenegro has shown itself to be a giant slayer in this tournament. Their win over Hungary came after they beat another #1 seed, Italy.
To term the win an upset may be a bit unfair to the Montenegran squad, who has acquitted themselves well since their formation. They one a European Championship in their first attempt as a nation in 2008.
Hungary has the most storied national water polo squad in the world. They did, however, struggle last year, finishing just 6th at last year’s world championship.
The star of the day was Montenegran goalkeeper Milos Scepanovic, who stopped 11/16 shots on goal. The match was low scoring for both teams through three quarters, before Montenegro broke through for three goals in the fourth.
Aleksandar Ivovic had two of those goals, the first coming half way through the quarter. Although that goal was decisive, Ivovic crushed all hope for a Hungarian comeback with a counter attack goal with just 0:25 left on the clock. Hungarian star Dénes Varga was frustrated all evening, connecting on just two of seven shots including one penalty.
Both Ivovic and Scepanovic have been with the Montenegran national team since it began in 2006.
Hungary had plenty of good opportunities to score, as Montenegro racked up 11 exclusions on the day to Hungary’s eight. Montenegro played excellent defense in the man down situations, allowing just six shots.
Now Montenegro will face their former countrymen in the Serbian capital for the European title. That match takes place at 5:45 pm local time (11:45 eastern in the US). Seating capacity for the final has been extended to 16,000 seats and a packed house is expected.