Greece v Italy 12-9 – Split 2022

The Greeks opened the scoring with a fine man-up play, finished by Erini Ninou, then came a lengthy  battle, with a lot of swimming and position play to seek any minor advantage. Italy needed 4:28 minutes  to open their account in this game, then Domitilli Picozzi’s pinpoint shot was good enough for an  equaliser. The Greeks regained the lead in 20 seconds with a penalty, but Claudia Marletta gained some  ground and arrived to the Greek goal unmarked to make it 2-2. Both sides missed its next man-up, then  Italy got an extra chance nine seconds before the first break, the excluded player didn’t swim out but  Marletta sent the ball painfully wide from the penalty line. 

LEN Total Waterpolo

Eleni Xenaki’s magnificent centre-shot put the Greeks ahead once more in 27 seconds and this time  they hit the next one too – from a woman-up+penalty combo, Ninou made it 4-2. The Italians missed an  extra, but the Greeks couldn’t expand their lead – and finally Roberta Bianconi halted Italy’s scoreless  run after 7:45 minutes by burying a penalty. The answer came immediately, Christina Siouti’s amazing  bouncer from the left wing reset the two-goal gap. Silvia Avegno pulled one back again, but Ninou was  on fire and blasted his third one with 43 seconds on the clock for 6-4. 

A quick exchange of extra-man goals kicked off the third period, then came a decisive phase: the Italian  defence denied two Greek shots but a lapse in attention left Maria Patra alone and she thanked the  opportunity. Then there was another collapse in the same position 50 seconds later, Vasiliki Plevritou  could shoot unguarded, for her it was a Christmas gift and Greece led 9-5. 

Italian head coach Carlo Silipo called for a time-out and in the middle of the period Avegno shaved off  one by netting a penalty. However, the time-out helped the Greeks too as Vasiliki Plevritou had another  clean shot in a woman-up. Valeria Palmieri delivered from the centre for 10-7 with 2:30 to go. Enough  time to have a 6 on 5 apiece but the defences stood firm so the three-goal margin remained and that  looked quite good from the Greeks’ perspective. 

And looked even better – they killed a woman-down and soon Ioanna Chydirioti came up with a fine  sneaking shot from the perimeter for 11-7. Italy’s next extra needed a VAR review, it showed that the  goalie made the save behind the virtual line, so Avegno was credited with her third and there were five  minutes to play. That’s a lot in this sport – but three minutes were gone, and Italy didn’t get any closer  as they missed two 6 on 5s. All credit went to the Greek defence, they did an astonishing job, and soon  they denied a third one. Before that they also missed an extra at the other end, but it was affordable with  such efforts in the back; Ionna Stamatopoulou was 10 on 18 at this stage, for 55.8%, a game winning  performance. The two late goals – one apiece – didn’t matter that match, this semi-final also ended in a  convincing three-goal win.

Flash Quotes

Alexia-Anna Kammenou, coach, Greece 

“I’m very happy! We played very well against one of the best teams in Europe. We had a total control  on the game. Now we need to focus on the final because against Spain it is going to be a very hard  match since Spain is the greatest team in Europe in the last ten years. They are very experienced and  they can control every situation during a match. Now we have to rest, we need to think about our  balance. I think if we play with same mentality as we did it today, we will have chance to win against  them. The defense is the key of our success, so we need to focus on that.” 

Carlo Silipo, coach, Italy 

“For us this was not the best match at the European Championships. We didn’t play a very good game  and Greece has a very good team and we couldn’t manage to dominate the game. I think our players  were tired because they didn’t have the energy to swim back for making all moves in defense. They  were not precise, I think they just lost their power.” 

LEN Total Waterpolo

Erini Ninou, player, Greece 

“I am very proud of this victory. We have been working a lot for that. I am very happy to win such a  game and absolutely proud of my team. It was a great match, we played an amazing defence and we  played as a team, it was great. Thanks to everybody to help us to arrive to the final, we worked a lot, the  whole team is absolutely happy. Because of all this, the hard work, the people who help us, the good job  of our coaches have done, today the entire team has a lot of tears of joy.” 

Maria Patra, player, Greece 

“This is so emotional, we tried so hard to be in the final. This is really exciting. We knew Italy would  fight until the last second of the match, but we were prepared for that. We are very excited for the final,  Spain is a great team, their girls have played together since long time. I think the one who does less  mistakes will be the one who is going to win. For them, this is the second European final in a row, and  they are amazing players, but a European final is only one match, and we are going to be ready for  that.” 

Silvia Avegno, player, Italy 

“Falling behind didn’t scare us. We are used to confronting whatever happens, situation by situation, regardless of the actual score, whether we are in the lead or behind. We still have steps to make and  things to correct and improve, in order to win against high level teams so I prefer looking at this as the  glass half full, rather than half empty. Next comes the bronze medal game, it’s key match, it’s very  important to win. This is the deja vu of the Worlds in Budapest and this re-match we want to win. We  must start the match with the agressve approach right from the beginning and keep it up. We don’t have  much time to rest. We must work and prepare it well.”