European Water Polo
Championships, Belgrade Day 1, Summary
Serbia: triumphant start in
front of 11,000 fans
Water polo was lifted to a
new level on Sunday: the last game of the opening day of the 32nd European Championships
showed this sport from a different perspective as 11,000 fans filled the stands
of the Kombank Arena while Serbia and Croatia produced a great game. This was
the highest ever attendance in the history of the Europeans.
Transforming the Kombank Arena into a giant pool
already proved to be brilliant choice of the organisers. At the opening
ceremony LEN President Paolo Barelli praised the locals in his speech
accordingly: We are grateful for the Serbian Government, for the City of Belgrade
and for the Serbian Water Polo Federation for doing their very best to host a
really memorable event. This nation, may I say, is crazy for water polo and we
do see how great efforts youve made to ensure the highest level in all areas.
From LENs point of view its always a great satisfaction to work with
dedicated professionals and here, in Belgrade this is the case.
State President Tomislav Nikolic, Minister of
Youth and Sports Vanja Udovicic and Serbian Water Polo Federation President
Milorad Krivokapic were all convinced to see a great event in the next two
weeks which would also boost the development and popularity of Serbian water
The first storm of applause went to Dusko
Pijetlovic, who, together with Italys Roberta Bianconi were voted the best
European players in 2015 and received their respective LEN Awards from LEN
President Paolo Barelli and Sport Minister Vanja Udovicic.
Then the world-beater national team didnt
disappoint its fans either: the title-holders opened their campaign with a
convincing performance against Croatia. This match-up was a worthy start for
this great event, though the visitors couldnt keep up the Serbs too long
just as it happened last summer in the World Championship final in Kazan where
they went down 11-4. Though the Croats scored first with a fine distance shot
from Andelo Setka but the Serbs hit back soon and jumped to a 1-3 lead by the
end of the first period as their rivals missed three man-ups in the first eight
Dusan Mandics hat-trick further widened the gap
and even though Luka Loncar pulled one back for 3-5 but two unanswered Serbian
goals put the writing on the wall by half-time (3-7) while Croatian goalie
Josip Pavic seemed to run out from miracles. Things turned from bad to worse
for the Croats soon, they couldnt set up clear shooting chances while the
hosts enjoyed an easy cruise, ending in a 13-6 win.
It was a fitting result after all, since the
opening day had already witnessed a series of one-sided matches. In the mens tournament
Spain thrashed Slovakia within two periods, rushing to a 10-2 lead and sat back
for the rest of the game which whistled off at 13-4. In the other match in
Group A Montenegro beat the Netherlands 13-6, here the damage was done in eight
minutes when the favourites got a 5-0 lead. Aleksandar Radovic was the
top-scorer for the Montenegrins with 4 goals.
In Group B, beside the Serbs triumph, France
taught a lesson for the newcomers of the event, Malta, the Gauls won 17-7 with
Ugo Crousillat netting 5 goals.
In the womens event the Greeks downed Portugal
27-3, Christina Tsoukala and Alexandra Asimaki scored 5 apiece. The Russians
were merciless with the womens newcomer, Turkey, it was a 29-0 rout, Anastasia
Simanovich netted 5 and three more players hit 4.
More excitements were expected from the clash of
the Netherlands and Hungary (the silver and bronze medallists of the last
edition) but the Dutch were superior in the first 20 minutes, earned a 11-3
lead and even though the Magyars started to climb back they could only come
closer but never endangered their rivals win. Yasemin Smit led the Dutch
attacks she scored an amazing 6 goals.
Results, Day 1
Spain v Slovakia 13-4, Montenegro v Netherlands
Croatia v Serbia 6-13, France v Malta 17-7
Portugal v Greece 3-27, Russia v Turkey 29-0,
Netherlands v Hungary 14-10
For detailed stats,
play-by-play descriptions, flash quotes and free live streaming of each game
visit our website: www.len.eu?