The Dutch team secured their best-ever finish for an age-group competition by claiming ninth place with a defeat of Malta in their final match of the LEN European U19 Water Polo Championships.
For places 9-10th: Netherlands 13-9 Malta.
For places 11-12th: France 12-10 Georgia (9-9, pen: 3-1).
For places 13-14th: Romania 5-7 Turkiye.
For places 15-16th: Czech Republic 10-8 Slovakia.
The Netherlands took on a Maltese team who have certainly impressed in Montenegro, but after a close first half the Dutch took control and eventually secured a comfortable 13-9 victory.
The other games offered more excitement; with the clash between France and Georgie coming down to penalties. Though the French led 9-6 in the fourth, Besarion Akhvlediani’s hat-trick in less than two minutes (and a penalty save from the Georgian goalie) set up the scene for a shootout.
Despite the powess he demonstrated earlier in the game Akhvlediani missed in the fourth round and it proved to be costly as the French took 11th place.
Watch the Netherlands vs Malta at Podgorica 2022 via LEN TV.
Romania and Turkiye produced an intriguing encounter. The Romanians took a 3-1 lead after eight minutes, only to concede six in the second period, which saw the Turks 4-7 up at halftime.
The second half saw just a single goal, which went the way of Romania, but it was too little to change the outcome of the result.
The battle to avoid the lowest rank was fierce – as expected – between Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Czechs scored first and maintained that advantage despite a spirited showing from Slovakia. Cenek Rames’ penalty, 13 second from time, secured a Czech victory.
Today was a rest day for the teams seeking the top positions – Sunday will bring the very best of action with Serbia and Spain being set to stage a brilliant showdown for the title.
Medal round (Sunday) – Final: 19.00 Serbia v Spain. Bronze medal: 17.30 Hungary v Greece. For places 5-6th: 16.00 Italy v Croatia. For places 7-8th: 14.30 Germany v Montenegro.