FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final
The European favorites all came through with wins on the final day of group play at the men’s World League Super Final. Croatia and Spain both utilized second half rallies to cement their wins, while Hungary used a five-goal effort by Toni Nemet to move past Japan. Host Serbia claimed the top spot in Group B with a dominant 20-6 win over Kazakhstan.
While no teams were eliminated in the group stages of the tournament, the seeding does set up the single-elimination bracket
- Croatia def. Australia 11-9
- Hungary def. Japan 13-9
- Spain def. Canada 12-5
- Serbia def. Kazakhstan 20-6
Standings after group play:
Hungary def. Japan 13-9
Toni Nemet found the back of the net five times as Hungary moved past Japan with a four-goal showing in the final quarter.
The teams played to a 6-all tie at the half. Hungary boasted a one-goal lead (9-8) heading into the last period, before sealing the deal with a 4-1 advantage.
Hungary converted on 41.9 percent of its shot attempts (13 of 31), while Japan made just 26.5 percent (9 of 34). Japan did boast the edge in extra-man situations, making good on 5 of 11 vs. 4 of 10 for the Hungarian side. Both teams punched in a penalty shot.
In addition to Nemet’s five goals, seven other players scored for Hungary, including a two-goal showing by Matyas Pasztor.
For Japan, Yusuke Inaba put in four goals and Atsushi Arai added a hat trick.
Nemet buried two goals in the fourth quarter and his teammates chipped in two more goals in a 4-0 run to start the period, putting the game out of reach for Japan.
“I expected that at one point of the game we could start expanding the gap,” Hungarian coach Tamas Marcz said. “It happened in the fourth period though we had some chance to have this happen a bit earlier. Still, against Japan you have to be on alert even when you are four goals up as with their fast paced game they could come at you in no time. Still, I was confident we would make it as I saw that our game plan worked and the players stuck to it, kept their nerves when the game was still close. As time went by we could force the Japanese to play six on six more and more, and in the position game where they are not that effective.”
Spain def. Canada 12-5
Spain poured in nine goals over the final two quarters to cruise past Canada and claim the top spot in Group A. Canada, who opened the tournament with the upset of the week by downing Hungary 9-8, proceeded to lose by large margins in each of their next 2 matches, including this defeat at the hands of group winners Spain.
Alvaro Granados scored three times to lead the Spaniards, while Francisco Fernandez and Alejandro Bustos added two apiece. Goalkeeper Eduardo Lorrio stopped six of the 11 shots he faced (54.5 percent), while his team punched in 5 of 10 extra-man scoring opportunities.
Those 3 goals for Granado made him the tournament leader after the group stages, with Japan’s Inaba Yusuke and Arai Atsushi following with 12 and 10, respectively.
Reuel D’Souza accounted for four of Canada’s five goals. The Canadians made good on all three of their penalty shots, but failed to convert a single extra man opportunity (0 for 7).
Canada struck first with a two quick goals, but Spain took control in the third quarter with three goals in just over two minutes to vault ahead 6-3. Canada made two penalties to narrow the gap to one at 6-5, but was overcome from there. A five-goal flurry capped the win for Spain.
“It was definitely better than yesterday and we did a good job in the first half but once we started making mistakes it was just a question of time when Spain starts to punish us for them,” Canadian coach Pino Porzio said. “A team like theirs usually does it and that’s what happened in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. These were not big mistakes, a bad pass here, a wrong move there, but for them it’s enough. But I cannot complain, mine is really a very young team and we need this experience to be ready for our big tests in the future.”
Standings after group play
Croatia def. Australia 11-9
A six-goal third period was the difference in the game as Croatia rallied from down 6-5 at halftime to defeat Australia 11-9.
Andrew Ford put in three goals to lead Australia, while six others chipped in a single goal.
Both teams hit four of their 12 extra-man opportunities. Croatia received the only penalty and converted it.
Croatia notched five goals in a six-minute stretch in the third period to turn the tides. After being held scoreless for seven minutes, Australia put in two goals in a row to narrow the gap to 9-7 but the Aussies would get no closer.
“In the first half we played well, then in the third we were too passive in our man-ups,” Australia coach Elvis Fatovic said. “There we made too many mistakes and the Croatians are too experienced not to build on this. They just did that, scored six goals and that decided the match but I’m still happy with the way the team played.”
Serbia def. Kazakhstan
After seizing a 4-0 lead in the opening eight minutes and upping the advantage to seven at the half (10-3), Serbia cruised to a 20-6 win over Kazakhstan to wrap up group play.
Nine players scored for Serbia with Stahinja Rasovic leading the way with five goal, followed by hat tricks from Dusko Pijetlovic and Stefan Mitrovic. Goalkeeper Gojko Pijetlovic saved eight of the 14 shots he faced.
Murat Shakenov accounted for three of Kazakhstan’s six goals. The Kazakhs used two goalkeepers but could not find an answer. Madikhan Makhmetov (4 of 14) and Valeriy Shlemov (6 of 16) split time between the pipes.
Serbia capitalized on nearly every opportunity, scoring 55.6 percent of its shots (20 of 36), cashing in on 10 of 13 man-up situations and 2 of 3 penalties.
Kazakhstan made six of its 23 shots, including 2 of 8 in extra-man situations.
“It was a strong practice for us,” Mitrovic said. “We had only one real aim, to avoid injuries. It’s really tough to play these games at the end of a busy club season but we try our best to keep on till Sunday.”
Friday, June 21 – Quarterfinals
- 15:00 Hungary vs. Australia
- 16:45 Japan vs. Croatia
- 19:15 Spain vs. Kazakhstan
- 21:00 Serbia vs. Canada