Brilliant semis, Greece and Serbia reach the final

Greece and Serbia are set to play for the title after winning outstanding encounters. The semi-finals couldn’t have been any better, the Greeks edged out Spain in a shootout, while Serbia managed to bring down Hungary with a six-goal haul in the final period.

Greece and Spain produced an extraordinary battle in the first semi-final. The opening period was like a showdown from the Wild West, just shooting and shooting and amidst the scoring festival the Greeks took a 5-4 lead. As a sharp twist, the second period saw a lonely goal, netted by Saul Granados to make it even by halftime. Then the Spaniards ran out of the gunpowder, though the Greeks also needed some time to find the way to score again, indeed they could hit the back of the net after 15:48 minutes, but with 0:06 to go they added one more to go 7-5 up.

When Christos Siamas made it 8-5 from action 78 seconds into the fourth, some may have thought it was over. They couldn’t have been any more wrong. Spain, silent since 15:19 minutes, pulled one back from an extra, then came a whirlwind, three action goals in a span of 70 seconds (!) and the Spaniards were ahead at 8-9. Further 30 seconds later they had a ‘match-ball’, a 6 on 4, missed it and they paid for that heavily. A minute later Spyridon Lykoudis equalised from action and that was the last goal in the regular time. And in the shootout a single miss decided the outcome, Spanish captain – and one of the best players in the tournament – Biel Gomila hit the post in the fourth round, while the Greeks buried all five attempts to reach the final.

They will face Serbia which beat the Hungarians in an awesome match. At the beginning, the Serbs were flying high, they stormed to a 0-4 lead while the mighty Magyars, European champions in U15 and world champs in U16 were struggling. However, after 12 minutes they found their game and by halftime they came back to 3-4, then in the third they equalised, what’s more, after killing a 6 on 4, their scoring machine Botond Balogh netted one from action to complete their 5-0 run. The Serbs regrouped themselves and managed to reply with a double – after a silence of 7:06 minutes –, but Balogh scored his third from a man-up to make it 6-6 before the last period.

Which began with a stunning chain of action: the Serbs scored three action goals in 129 seconds and killed two man-downs – and that proved to be decisive. The Hungarians pulled one back only to concede two more, this time from 6 on 5s, so the Serbs sat comfortably in the driving seat at 7-11 with 3:56 remaining. Their rivals staged a last surge, halved the gap in 37 seconds with two man-up goals, but Kosta Bodiroga scored a great one from action with 1:42 remaining to put the match into bed. It was astonishing that the Serbs could score six goals in the fourth period, as many as they had in the first three.

In the crossovers for the 5-8th places, Italy won a tough defensive battle against Croatia, while Montenegro thrashed the Dutch by netting 21 goals, with Srdan Janovic and Strahinja Gojkovic hitting 7 apiece.


Greece v Spain 9-9, pen: 5-4

Hungary v Serbia 9-12

For places 5-8th

Croatia v Italy 5-6

Netherlands v Montenegro 11-21

Schedule for Monday (local time)

For places 7-8th, 16.00: Croatia v Netherlands

For places 5-6th, 17.30: Italy v Montenegro

Bronze medal match, 19.00: Spain v Hungary

Final, 20.30: Greece v Serbia