Courtesy: LEN Aquatics
Spain achieved a fine double: after winning the U18 world title among the women, they added the U19 European gold two weeks later. They had a great run in Funchal (POR), eliminating Greece, Hungary and Russia en route to the top.
The Greeks did it among the men in August (U18 Worlds-U19 Europeans double), now it was the Spaniards’ turn. After coming first at the World Champs in Belgrade (and one year earlier in Novi Sad at the U17 Europeans), they staged a brilliant unbeaten run in Funchal to claim their first ever U19 European triumph.
It was a great march as they beat four top-level teams on their way to the top of the podium. In the group stage they overcame Italy 11-10, then in the quarters they outplayed Greece (9-4) and didn’t leave any chance for Hungary in the semis (11-5). Then they also turned the final into a one-sided contest after netting three connecting goals in 2:55 minutes before the middle break to go 7-4 up against Russia and won the match with a brilliant performance 12-8.
The Russians faced the Italians in the quarters and they pushed them aside with surprising ease (13-5), then won an outstanding battle against the Netherlands 10-8 in semis before succumbing to Spain.
The Dutch clinched the bronze in a thriller, they led 4-0 late in the second against Hungary but the Magyars netted three in the third to tie the game at 4-4. The fourth saw no goal so the penalties decided the outcome: the Hungarian goalie (!) took the first one but her colleague saved it and that was decisive as all the remaining players buried their respective shots.
As for the lower ranks, it’s worth noting that Israel is on its way to change the order in the future – after the senior team’s first-ever appearance at the European Championships in Barcelona, the U19 side posted the nation’s best ever effort in water polo, clinching the 7th place.
Women’s European U19 Championships, Final Rankings
9. Great Britain
12. Czech Republic