The quarter-final day of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final kicked off with a thriller in Belgrade. Australia managed to edge out the Hungarians in a penalty-shootout after a brilliant game, full of twists and turns. In the remaining QFs the Challenge the Europeans campaign didn’t bring any more success for the teams from the other continents, as Croatia, Spain and Serbia all won with big margins to reach the semi-finals.
After an almost perfect first half Hungary blew away its 5-1 lead, and even though they still led 7-5 before the last period, this advantage didn’t last till the end. The Aussie offence improved significantly in the second half – in the first only 2 (!) of their shots were on target – and by netting five goals in the last period they even set themselves up to earn a straight win but the Hungarians could force the shootout with a man-up goal 2 seconds from time.
It was a tremendous fight but the Aussies prevailed as Istvan Kardos (right) could offer one save less than needed - Credits: Istvan Derencsenyi
In the wheels of fortune the Magyars got advantage with a first save but then a miss levelled the score and finally in the 7th round a fine save from Joel Dennerley sent Australia to the semis.
It didn't go unnoticed - the new video review rule let the TWPC reveal what happened to Adian Roach and the punishment was handled to Hungarian goalie Istvan Kardos
Later they received further bad news: after a video review – the new rules enable the officials to act like this – the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee banned Hungarian goalie Istvan Kardos for 3 games because of an act of brutality in the fourth period (an Aussie player had to leave the pool with blood on his face, and the review revealed the reason for that). So Hungary has to play its last two games with one goalkeeper (and field only 12 players).
The Croats were superior in the whole game
The second game was a bit balanced only for a single period, that even saw Japan netting three in a row to turn the game from 0-2 to 3-2. But soon the excitements ceased as the Croats took over and building on their physical superiority they expanded the gap quarter by quarter. Actually, scoring goals against Japan is the best way to prevent their fast counter-attacks and the Croats didn't spare any as they netted 20 goals, to tie their own record from Day 1.
The third was also a one-sided contest as expected, Spain easily overcame Kazakhstan, won each period with ease, did a fine job in man-up (11 for 15) and their young talented player Alvaro Granados bagged his second MVP award in succession as he netted five goals. Next comes the semis where the Spaniards will face Croatia – both teams have to prepare a really hard test.
Demanding test it was for the Kazakhs...
The last game was just like the preceeding two as Serbia didn't let the Canadians think of any kind of upset for a single moment. The hosts showed respect towards their opponent by playing with full focus so they also finished the game with 20 goals. Next is Australia, a tougher challenge in the afternoon heat after playing the previous four matches in the evening.
One of the twenty Serbian hits
Schedule for Saturday
(all games were brought forward in order to have room for possible rain delays as the weather remains unpredictable for the weekend)
15.00 Australia v Serbia
16.45 Croatia v Spain
For places 5-8th
10.00 Hungary v Canada
11.45 Japan v Kazakhstan