On the final day of group play, China upset Hungary 11-9 after leading 8-2 at one stage in their Group B clash, meaning Hungary will not win its group, gifting top slot to defending champion United States of America. In the second afternoon match-up, Netherlands held off Canada 16-12 in Group A.
China showed its incredible progression in Tokyo with a stunning 11-9 upset of Hungary — the conqueror of United States of America — in their final Group B encounter.
It will probably will not change China’s final position in the group — fourth — but what it did show is that it is capable of matching any team here. Such is the competition, even the last day’s matches are unpredictable.
“I didn’t expect to play so good against Hungary. Hungary players are good and they beat USA. It was a surprise for me. Now there is an important match and can be against Spain (quarterfinal), the champion of Europe. We analysed them (Hungary) and other teams and they closely contested our players, but our goalkeeper (Yineng Shen) played well for us today.”
Even so, what was incredible was China’s bolt from the gate like a Kentucky Derby charge, winning the first quarter 4-1 and finishing the half at 7-2, a usually unbeatable score.
That margin was extended to 8-2 as China found the target and Hungary was wayward on more than five occasions, shots it would normally achieve. Also, some options looked unwinnable, passing to the non-free player.
The wind changed in the second half and Hungary started to throw out its spinnaker and surf rather than drift. Anna Illes arrested the slide on extra-man attack at 8-3, and Greta Gurisatti, playing her first Olympic Games, sensed it was her time and landed the first of her four goals on extra. Captain Rita Keszthelyi drove down the left into the maze of players, accepted the pass on the hand and scored for 8-5. Xiao Chen took a quick pass on the near-post position to score from point blank and Gurisatti again converted extra for 9-6 in the last minute of the period.
Nearly four minutes expired before Gurisatti grabbed a cross pass on counter to narrow it to 9-7. Xinyan Wang squeezed the ball between the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Alda Magyari, but it went to VAR, showing the ball was still on the hand when the buzzer sounded. Gurisatti nailed the penalty for 9-8, Zewen Deng responded in the same manner for 10-8 and Dora Leimeter converted extra from deep right for 10-9 at 0:16. China was on a roll, drove right and passed into the hole position for Chen to score and 11-9 with a second left on the clock.
Match 17, 14:00, Group B, HUNGARY 9 CHINA 11
Quarters: 1-4, 1-3, 4-2, 3-2
Referees: Viktor Salnichenko (KAZ), Frank Ohme (GER)
Shots: HUN: 9/35. CHN: 11/26.
Extra Man: HUN: 5/12. CHN: 6/12.
Pens: HUN: 1/1. CHN: 1/1.
Yineng Shen (CHN) — Goalkeeper with 10 Saves
“The fact that my team put in a great performance in defence gave me great confidence in everything I did. It was a much better performance than against the United States,” she said of her performance. “I hope we can do (even) better in the next game.”
Attila Biro (HUN) — Head Coach
“They surprised us in the first half. They had very good team tactics. We arrived back in the game (second half), but the players were very tired and that was the key at the end. It doesn’t matter who we play in the quarterfinal… the quarterfinal is the most important match.”
Greta Gurisatti (HUN) —Four Goals
“Yes, I scored four goals and I am an attacking player more than a defender. In my first one or two Olympic games (matches, Tokyo 2020) I was finding my way in the team and needing to be more positive. In two days, we have a very important match.”
GROUP A: NETHERLANDS-CANADA — 16-12
Netherlands withstood the constant threat of Canada to win their final Group A match 16-12. It nearly cemented some of the positions in the group ahead of the evening’s final two matches.
For Netherlands, it was a third victory after the loss to Australia and the win over Spain and will see it end in a three-way tie, losing the first tiebreaker (Spain advances top) and the second tiebreaker (it lost to Australia), leaving a probable quarterfinal clash with Hungary on Tuesday. Of course, this depends on Australia winning its evening match with South Africa.
“Both sides were competitive. It’s an interesting tournament to see the results. Now the tournament has started, and the next step is the quarterfinals. Today was not really satisfying about our defence. We need to work on that. Now we are preparing for 3 August (quarterfinals).”
Canada, a group winner at June’s FINA World League Super Final, has been struggling to regain that form since and the sole victory, over South Africa, does not bode well heading into the quarterfinals. Canada takes fourth position and will now play reigning champion United States of America as the top team in Group B. Hungary was odds on to finish top of Group B except China had other ideas.
The match was tied at one, two, four, five, six and seven in the first half and then a Simone van der Kraats goal — her third — from the top, gave the Dutch the edge with nearly two minutes until the long break.
Van der Kraats gained her fourth at 11-8, her fifth at 13-10 in the fourth with about three minutes on the clock. Canada called timeout and had no success with the shot. Nomi Stomphorst scored off a cross pass on extra-man attack for 14-10 and then Canadian head coach David Paradelo sent goalkeeper up into the post position. With seven on attack, Hayley McKelvey scored. Another timeout was taken and this time, with seven up front, veteran Joelle Bekhazi in her 578th match, scored from the top for 14-12 at 1:07.
The Dutch went to a timeout and at 0:41, van der Kraats made a half-hearted shot from just inside the halfway line and the ball dribbled through Wright’s left hand. Canada went on attack with seven, lost the ball and pressed all over the field. The ball made it up front to Vivian Sevenich at two metres who flipped the ball into the empty goal with just two seconds on the clock. Netherlands won 16-12.
Canada was always there but, sadly, it led for only 20 seconds of the first minute when Kyra Christmas scored the first of her four goals.
Match 19, 15:30, Group A, NETHERLANDS 16 CANADA 12
Quarters: 4-4, 4-3, 3-2, 5-3
Referees: Alessandro Severo (ITA), Nenad Peris (CRO).
Shots: NED: 16/26. CAN: 12/31.
Extra Man: NED: 6/9. CAN: 4/7.
Pens: NED: 2/2.
Simone van der Kraats (NED) — Six Goals
“Our defence was good, we played like a team and the main thing is that in each game we are making progress. Defence has to be better in the next game against Hungary (quarterfinal).” On how she has become the highest goal scorer at Tokyo 2020: “My goal by myself is for every second to look at goal and make a chance to score. I prepare my whole body to shoot.” On why players are not marking her harder: “In the quarterfinals they will be higher on me, but if I can get my space, I will be very happy.”
David Paradelo (CAN) — Head Coach
On his tactic to send the goalkeeper on the last three attacks: “You have to have good tactics at the beginning, not the end. We started good against the Dutch. It was a decent game, but there were some breakdowns early and they hurt us a lot. We made a couple of adjustments for the second half, but kudos to them; they have some long, hard shooters and they deserved to win.”