Russia finished third in the World League European Qualifiers as they managed to beat and eliminate the Netherlands. The Dutch fought bravely, trailing by four they started playing 7 on 6 in a couple of attacks from the middle of the fourth quarter but the Russians could respond well and won easily at the end.
The Dutch was the busiest team in Budapest, playing three World League matches so they had all the chances to make the cut for the Super Final. However, they could clinch only one win, against Spain while lost to Greece and now on the closing day to Russia.
While only a single goal separated the sides in the previous two occasions, this time the Dutch didn’t have a real chance to play an even match with the Russians. The chance to advance took its first blow in the second period when Russia netted three unanswered goals to go 2-6 up, from that point it was a chasing game where the Dutch had only partial success.
Twice they could come back to two goals, at 4-6 and 6-8, then came a crucial phase in the dying seconds of the third, at 6-9. Catharina van der Sloot’s penalty was well saved by Anna Karnaukh with 22 seconds to go and Nataliya Churzina just beat the buzzer from the next possession to make it 6-10 (instead of 7-9).
That was decisive as the Dutch, playing once more with eleven players due to a disciplinary decision, didn’t have enough gas left in the tank. They tried everything though, went for a 7 on 6 in the middle of the fourth in a couple of possessions, but the Russians managed to respond every time, sometimes scored with some luck but they worked for it.
It means they claimed the third place – passed the Dutch and the Greeks as well and secured their place in the Super Final by their own right, though they may play host of the event in mid-June too.
Netherlands v Russia 10-15
Details, stats, play-by-play here.
1. Hungary 16 pts (5 wins, 1 loss), 2. Spain 14 pts (5W, 1L), 3. Russia 9 pts (3W/3 L), 4. Greece 9 pts (3W/3L), 5. Netherlands 8 pts (3W/3L), 5. Italy 7 pts (2W, 4L), 7. France, 0 pts (6L)
Tie-breaker for the third place: Russia v Greece 12-9.
The top four ranked teams qualified for the Super Final.