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2020 European Water Polo Ch European Water Polo Ch Budapest LEN Events News Water Polo

34th European Water Polo Championships, Budapest D4

Hungary wins thriller, the Dutch shuts out Italy in the second half

Host Hungary upended the Russians in the first really thrilling match of the women’s tournament, while Italy suffered another 6-goal defeat, this time from the Netherlands. The Dutch won the second half 4-0.

Group A: Hungary v Russia 9-8, Greece v Slovakia 18-2, Serbia v Croatia 8-9

Standings: 1. Greece 9, 2. Hungary 9, 3. Russia 6, 4. Croatia 3, 5. Serbia 0, 6. Slovakia 0

Group B: Netherlands v Italy 10-4, Spain v Israel 18-2, France v Germany 17-5

Standings: 1. Netherlands 9, 2. Spain 9, 3. France 6, 4. Italy 3, 5. Israel 0, 6. France 0

Hungary and Russia usually entangle into tremendous fights, 5 out of their last 8 encounters at the Europeans – including the last two in 2016 and 2018 – saw a single goal deciding the outcome. And it ended the same way, though at halftime the hosts seemed to have firm control as they led 6-3 while the Russians were unable to score in the second period. Rita Keszthelyi already netted three goals, the second one was his 100th alone at the Europeans. However, their rivals came back strong for the second half, Maria Bersneva broke their scoreless period of 9:29 minutes and deep into the third they equalised for 6-6.

It was Hungary’s turn to bounce back and they just did that: Rita Keszthelyi’s brilliant lob halted their scoreless phase at 8:46 minutes and another action goal just 36 seconds later gave them an 8-6 lead before the last break. The last period saw an enormous fight, Russia pulled one back with 4:42 remaining then they missed a crucial man-up while Anna Illes put one away in the dying phase for 9-7. Olga Gorbunova’s ball just sneaked in from the post in a 6 on 5 so the Russians had 1:56 minutes to save a point but they couldn’t set up another fine shooting chance.

In the other big game of the day Italy once again failed to be on the same level with its rival and they suffered another 6-goal defeat like against Spain. At half-time the Netherlands led 6-4 so some more excitements were in sight – instead the Dutch netted three more goals in the third to decide the outcome. Italy remained scoreless in the entire second half, altogether for 17:42 minutes. Their man-up was 2 for 4 at the beginning, but collapsed then to go 0 for 7 afterwards and they had a 14.8% shooting efficiency (4/27). At the other end Debby Willemsz posted a 71.4% saving percentage and Maud Megens scored 5 goals, one more than the entire Italian side.

In this group Spain beat Israel with ease and France handed a 17-5 defeat to the Germans, the heaviest in the history of the two teams in 35 years.

In Group A Greece enjoyed another easy match before taking on Hungary and Russia. In the game probably deceding the 4th place Serbia and Croatia staged a brilliant battle, sometimes recalling the tensions of the males’ big clashes. The Croats had the better start and took a 2-4 lead but the Serbs hit back with three connecting goals for 5-4. But the Croats reacted well, came back to 7-7 till the end of the third and after killing a man-down they managed to score twice for 7-9. The Serbs were unable to score for long minutes, with 1:02 to go they missed a penalty, and even though pulled one back 42 seconds from time, they created a shooting chance too late in their last possession and scored only after the buzzer. This win sets up the Croats to reach the quarters for the first time in their history.

For more details, detailed statistics, play-by-play descriptions click here


Women’s preliminaries, Round 3

Group B, 11.30

France v Germany

Florian Bruzzo, head coach, France

“This game was advantageous for us because my older players did a great job in the first quarters, so after that my younger players could gain some experience. We are mainly focusing on reaching the quarter-final and on the qualification for the next World Championships.’

Arno Troost, head coach, Germany

“We were very motivated before today’s game as we wanted to win this match against France, but the first quarter was extremely difficult for us. The opponent scored a few goals, so we had to change our tactics. I have mentioned previously that we want to qualify to the quarter-final, but we were not able to beat any of the teams so far so we have no chances left. Next we will face the Spanish team, which will not be easy.”

Louise Guillet, player, France

‘We didn’t know too much about our opponent so we did not expect this huge difference between the two teams. We are happy about the result but we still need to improve. I think we performed well in both offense and defence.’

Group B, 13.00

Spain v Israel 18-2

Miguel Oca, head coach, Spain

‘We respect each of our opponents, we have two games left, the first will be against Germany, and the other, one of the most important ones of our group clashes, the match against the Netherlands. The Italian and the Dutch teams are always in a big fight for the podium, so we really have to stay focused and continue to play our game like we have done so far.”

Clara Espar, player, Spain

“I do not think that the final result shows the real difference between the two nations. I remember one of my youth events when I played against them and they were playing quite well. They have improved a lot during the years. I think we could play what we wanted so we can be satisfied. The most important match in the group is still ahead of us but I think we are ready to face the Dutch team. But before that we need to focus on the game against Germany.”

Dimitrios Mavrotas, head coach, Israel

‘We did not have high expectations before this game because the Spanish team is much better than us. Here we are playing against teams we only saw on TV so it is already an achievement to play at the European level. One of the key problems from our perspective was that we did not give 100%, neither did our opponent, and we started to follow their rhythm. We played slowly and careless which is disappointing for us. The fact is that I do not care of the score. The thing I care about is willingness and motivation. I want to make the girls understand that we are here to enjoy the games.”

Group A, 14.30

Greece v Slovakia 18-2

Georgios Morfesis, head coach, Greece

“It’s good, this game went as I expected. We have young players, so it is a quite new team. During our preparation some of the athletes got injured, so it is great to have easy matches, though it is also a disadvantage because the easier a match is the more difficult is to catch the rhythm when we meet stronger teams. We are now focusing on the two tough matches in our group against Hungary and Russia. After that comes the most important game of the championships, the quarter-final.”

Milan Henkrich, head coach, Slovakia:

“We are getting better but still not enough to play equally with the top teams. We started the match well but then our game fell apart and Greece took advantage of our mistakes. We are playing with Serbia on Friday and we want to win that one and the next one against Croatia. We want to show that we should be here not just to have a learning experience.”

Chrysoula Diamantopoulou, goalie, Greece: 

“It was a nice game. At the beginning we made some mistakes in the offense but later we managed to correct them. We are waiting for Friday and Sunday when we have the important matches against Hungary and Russia.”

Margarita Plevritou, player, Greece

“Even though we knew it would be an easier match, we took it seriously. I think the key was our defence today, we conceded only two goals. I think this and the previous two matches made us ready for the upcoming challenges against Hungary and Russia.”

Emma Junasova, player, Slovakia:

“What can I say? Some of our players were sick all night with their stomach and one managed to play. We will try to give our best in the following matches.”

Group A, 16.00

Serbia v Croatia 8-9

Dragana Ivkovic, head coach, Serbia

“I did not see what I expected from the beginning of the game. Our moves were static, the girls did not move at all, they did not use the centre forward in the attacks, they had only long-distance shots and furthermore, in the last period they missed a penalty. Meanwhile, Croatia could score two easy goals and played very well during the whole game. I am dissatisfied not only with the last period where we let Croatia take the lead, but with the whole match from the very beginning.”

Marijo Caleta, head coach, Croatia:

“I would like to congratulate to my players and the staff for this victory. We started off nervously, Serbia scored three goals in a row but we managed to catch up with them and take back the lead. I am so happy for this victory. We were prepared tactically, managed to mark really well two of their most dangerous players. It cost us a lot of personal fouls but we pulled ourselves through the man-downs. This win is opening the door to quarter-finals. We will try to prepare the match against Slovakia the best way possible.

Nina Josifovic, player, Serbia

“Well, there is not much to say… We missed the chance we were given. We made many mistakes in our man-up. We have a match against Slovakia on Friday. We’ll be fighting for the 9-12th position from now on but we’ll give our best.”

Emmi Miljkovic, player, Croatia

“I thought the match would be easier. We made some mistakes, I missed a penalty shot. Both teams were playing goal by goal. Then finally we managed to pull away by two and held on till the end. Next is Slovakia, we played with them recently in Varazdin and we hope to win that game too.”

Ivana Butic, player, Croatia

“It was a really tough game. We went out today saying we would win this one. We have prepared so much for this match so we really should not have lost our concentration. It was very close until the end, but we kept fighting till the final whistle.”

Group B, 17.30

Netherlands v Italy 10-4

Arno Havenga, head coach, Netherlands

“We played very disciplined and this is a result of a team effort. We played very well-organised. Overall, I’m happy how we achieved it. It was our first tough game. Next is France and a big match with Spain. But first we have to recover physically as this was a very tough one.”

Paolo Zizza, head coach, Italy

“Our start was good, then we stopped started making mistakes. We conceded many goals without exclusions. Our attack wasn’t bad bud lacked efficiency. I think we were 2 for 11 in 6 on 5s which is inexcusably low. Next is Israel but first we have to recover from this match. It was very physical, they turned the game to that kind knowing we couldn’t keep up.”

Bente Rogge, player, Netherlands

“We really gave our best in order to play first and foremost as a team and I think we showed that. We were there helping each other every step on the way. We knew that our games with Italy and Spain would be important. Now we have to build on that trust and hopefully go to win against Spain.”

Maud Megens, player, Netherlands

“We prepared so much against Italy, our main tactic was to force them to play and shoot from positions which is their weak side. We lived mostly from their mistakes this way. In offense we really played as a team. Thanks to my teammates I was able to score five goals, without them and without our system it would not have been possible.”

Giulia Gorlero, goalie, Italy

“We missed the first two important games, but there are still two more ahead of us in the group. We need to win and see what happens. The real start of the championships is the quarter-finals.”

Group A, 19.00

Hungary v Russia 9-8

Attila Biro, head coach, Hungary

“I haven’t seen my team playing so smartly and intelligently for a long time. This victory has a huge importance in regards of confidence and unity, however, we still have much ahead, for us actually the tournament has started just now. We have not been prepared for this strict refereeing, nor to collect so many personal fouls by the end of the second quarter. The Russians played in positions where they have never done before, though the girls reacted to this unexpected situation very well. We performed brilliantly in the centre-forward position as well as in the goal. The Russian team is the fastest team in the European Championships, so we deliberately slowed their game down, meanwhile the Greek team, whom we will face on Friday, is very good in static play.”

Andrei Belofastov, assistant coach, Russia

“It was really a top performance by the Hungarian team. They started off strong right from the beginning. They managed to mark our best player Prokofyeva, and played excellent in extraman. We came back, but those three goals we conceded from their counter-attacks have been anything but similar we’ve seen what I can remember from the past year. We made mistakes, one led to another. Now it seems that it’s going to be decided between Greece and us who will meet Italy after the group phase. It’s never easy with them.”

Rita Keszthelyi, player, Hungary

“I was really hyped before the match, I was waiting for this tough game since the beginning of the tournament. I must admit, without my teammates I would not be able to show such a great performance, they truly worked for me, but if during the next games I have the chance to play for them, I will do it with all my strength. I also have to thank the staff for giving me so much freedom as I did not play with the girls at all during the autumn. But once we leave the Arena today, we shall already be focusing on the clash against Greece. If we are able to beat them that would mean an easier tournament for us from that point.”

Evgeniya Ivanova, player, Russia:

“It was very tense, nervous game. This was our first serious match here. We missed a lot of chances in attack and in extraman too. We have to work on our mistakes to be prepared for the next important match against Greece.”