The Netherlands claim another title
The Netherlands claimed another title after their European triumph in Barcelona last summer. This weekend the Dutch won the Europa Cup final in Turin (ITA), by beating Russia for the gold medal. Hungary claimed the bronze after defeating host Italy. These four sides also qualified for the World League Super Final where the first Olympic berth will be at stake.
LEN Europa Cup Final (World League qualifiers)
Final rankings: 1. Netherlands, 2. Russia, 3. Hungary, 4. Italy, 5. Spain, 6. Greece
This year’s Europa Cup was jointly organised by LEN and FINA, also as part of the World League qualification process. Since the winner of the WL Super Final in June shall book its place at the Olympics, the Europa Cup final – the last stage of the European qualifications – was pretty important.
The quarters produced less excitement than expected as Hungary downed Greece 9-6 with a convincing performance while the Netherlands ousted Spain in a surprisingly one-sided contest (9-4).
With Hungary advancing, it’s already decided after the first day that all four semi-finalists will make the WL Super Final (to be hosted by the Hungarians in Budapest in June). Russia and Hungary were entangled into a scoring festival but the Russians edged out the Magyars 15-14 while the Dutch enjoyed an easy and spectacular cruise while beating host Italy 17-11.
The last day saw a brilliant bronze medal match, after a 5-5 opening period Hungary got the upper hand and made the podium with a 13-11 win. The final saw the Netherlands netting three connecting goals after 7-5 and the five-goal lead killed the rest of the match even though the Russians netted the last three goals of the game. This 11-9 victory secured another gold for the Netherlands after they had managed to triumph at the European Championships in Barcelona last summer.