Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

The Netherlands, Greece, Italy and Spain topped the respective groups after the prelims, these four sides already booked a spot in the quarters. Most of the excitements came in the morning when Spain and the United States tied in a thrilling encounter which favoured Spain at the end. Russia downed Hungary for the second place in Group A, setting up a mouth-watering clash between the Magyars and the Aussies for the crossover matches. In the evening Greece closed the group phase with a sparkling win over China.

 

The rematch of the finals of the last two editions, Spain v USA, didn't disappoint as it produced a thriller. Spain came from behind to overcome a two-goal deficit in the last period, and prevailed in one of the craziest finish the game ever seen. The Spaniards took the lead just 23 seconds before the final whistle, for the first time in the match. Still, the Americans equalised when 15 seconds remained and that time was enough to see a missed man-up, a saved penalty (Spain missed three in the match) and a desparate shooting attempt from the US girls. It ended 9-9, however, and at the end of the day it favoured the US team, based on the results against the next highest ranked team, New Zealand, though Croatia was just inches away from a surprise draw against NZ which would have put the US first...

Clash is on: a scene from the game between Spain and the USA (pictured: Ryann Neushul and Sofia Diaz) - Credit: Aposotolos Zacharakis

In Group C, the matches were much calmer, Italy maintained its clean sheet with a fine win over Slovakia and Canada also woke up in time to secure the second spot with a convincing win over Serbia.

This has set up the following crossover matches for tomorrow in that half of the draw: Canada v New Zealand, USA v Serbia. Italy and Spain qualified directly to the quarter-finals.

The afternoon session didn't bring any hiccups, the Netherlands downed Japan with ease and earn their third win in as many matches, while Russia punished the Hungarian mistakes and rolled over their opponents with a 5-1 rush in the third period to secure the second place in the group and a seemingly easier crossover game against China. The Magyars face the Australians in perhaps the most awaited duel on Wednesday.

Bersneva (Russia) in action against Hungary

According to the math, China had a chance to go first in Group B in case of a four-goal win over Greece (in a three-way tie). What happened in reality was something totally different: Greece simply blew them away, after a tight first period the hosts start rolling and at some stage even endangering the USA's single-match scoring record (24 goals) was a possibility. It didn't happen, still, the crowd felt entertained as Greece won with a sparkling display of water polo and advanced to the quarter-finals.

Eleni Xenaki is about to score one her five goals against China

Final rankings - preliminaries

Group A

1. Netherlands 6, 2. Russia 4, 3. Hungary 2, 4. Japan 0

Group B

1. Greece 6, 2. Australia 4, 3. China 3, 4. South Africa 0

Group C

1. Italy 6, 2. Canada 4, 3. Serbia 2, 4. Slovakia 0

Group D

1. Spain 5, 2. USA 5, 3. New Zealand 2, 4. Croatia 1

Tie-break: results against New Zealand – Spain: 14-3, USA: 11-4

Schedule for Wednesday

Crossover matches:

12.40: Russia v China (winner meets Italy in the QF)

17.20: Hungary v Australia (winner meets Spain in the QF)

18.40: Canada v New Zealand (winner meets Netherlands in the QF)

20.00: Serbia v USA (winner meets Greece in the QF)

For places 13-16

10.00: Japan v South Africa

11.20: Slovakia v Croatia