Water Polo Men, Day 4: ITA 11 CHN 3
Italy has booked a quarterfinal appointment with Spain after beating China 11-3 in the qualifiers at Bernat Picornell Pool. It was a vast improvement on the previous meeting of the two at last year’s World League when Italy won 10-9 — the smallest winning margin in all eight encounters between each other at major tournaments.
Italy scored twice before Zhang Chufeng (CHN) plastered the ball into the back of the net from two metres. Matteo Aicardi scored the first of two amazing centre-forward, backhand lobs against Weiqing Ge for 3-1.
Maurizio Felugo opened the second-quarter scoring and Feihu Tan replied from centre forward. Felugo added a second and Alex Georgetti sent in a “donut” over the goalkeeper’s head for 6-2 by halftime.
Georgetti netted a third at the top of third when his shot was deflected by a defender, catching out Ge. Christian Presciutti repeated the “donut” shot and Valentino Gallo sent in a low lob for 9-2 at the final break.
Aicardi netted his second lob and then Ge had one of those “I-want-to-forget” moments when he used his face instead of his hands to stop a penalty attempt from the world’s hardest shooter — Pietro Figlioli (ITA), who has been recorded at 86.7km/h.
Georgetti netted a fourth with a shot cross-cage and China gained a consolation goal when Zhongxing Liang converted a penalty with one second left.
Italy had the form and the skills and will utilise them against Spain with efficiency on Tuesday.
Match 31: 20:10, Quarterfinal Qualification, ITALY 11 CHINA 3
Quarters: 3-1, 3-1, 3-0, 2-1
Referees: Boris Margeta (SLO), Doriel Terpenka (CAN).
Extra Man: ITA: 3/7. CHN: 1Ž2.
Pens: ITA: 0/1. CHN: 1/1
ITALY: Stefano Tempesti, Amaurys Perez, Niccolo Gitto, Pietro Figlioli, Alex Georgetti (4), Maurizio Felugo (2), Niccolo Figari, Valentino Gallo (2), Christian Presciutti (1), Deni Fiorentini, Matteo Aicardi (2), Christian Napolitano, Marco Del Lungo. Head Coach: Alessandro Campagna.
CHINA: Weiging Ge, Feihu Tan (1), Zhongxing Liang (1), Bin Jiang, Junliang Guo, Ning Pan, Bin Li, Yang Wang, Junmin Xie, Jian Zhang, Chufeng Zhang (1), Nianxiang Liang, Honghui Wu. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo.
Niccolo Gitto (ITA):
“We know that this match against China has been a preparation game to the next one: Spain. They have played a great match this morning against USA and they are an intensive and tough team. We know from the beginning that Spain is one of the favourites, so we cannot make any mistake. ”
Valentino Gallo (ESP):
“This game was hard, China are unpredictable, we wasted a lot of energy but we had a hard defence. The Spanish team is motivated, their supporters are here and they are a strong team.”
Maurizio Felugo (ITA):
“Spain is a strong team and is playing at home. We hope everything will be good.”
Weiqing Ge (CHN):
“I got smashed in the head by one of the world´s best shooters. During the game my adrenaline meant that this didn’t faze me much but now it is starting to hurt! Italy is one of the best teams, we had a lot of problems with defence and we missed more counter-attack goals.”
Rick Azevedo (CHN Head Coach):
"We knew Italy was a great team, they are coming from winning the silver medal in London and they have changed only two players. I´m happy, we have played very well during the game, but after halftime we were tired and it´s very difficult to keep the level Italy plays all the time. We need to keep improving, we are a very young team with very little experience, but I´m sure we are going to get better. We´ll be a better team for Rio 2016 (Olympoics)."
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