Spain equalised with a minute left on the clock for a 10-10 result with Greece and the group winner will not be decided until their final group matches on Friday — which both are expected to win —when the tiebreaker rules will be dusted off. France picked up its first win, downing Thailand in a high-scoring 24-8 encounter.
Group D — Szeged
SPAIN 10 GREECE 10
Both teams came here with a win and all the players knew this could be the decider for the first spot in the group. Surprisingly, Spain trailed almost all the game and just took the lead one time in the match. Greece prepared really well physically and tactically, too. Both teams operated with lots of shots, but the accuracy wasn’t on a high level. In the last quarter, Greece had a couple of occasions to take a bigger step to win the match with a two-goal difference, but it didn’t use the opportunities. The match ended with a fair draw.
For Spain, Elena Ruiz was the best with four goals and she earned the MVP award. On the other side, the Plevritou twins — Eleftheria and Vasiliki — led the team with three goals each and helped to secure the tie.
Surprisingly, neither of the teams had a turning point or failed to live it. Spain had the ball more, won all the sprints, and Greece was better from actions, but both teams had really bad shot selections, so most of the chances were missed.
Stats don’t lie
Spain was a little bit better in extra-man play (5/13) and Martina Terre had a 64 per cent save efficiency. Greece scored eight goals from 20 actions, and 50 per cent on extra. Both teams’ shot efficiency was about the 30 per cent mark.
Spain will play against Thailand on Friday and try to outscore Greece’s result and Alexia Kammenou’s women will try to do the same against France, because in the last round they have a must win while the goal difference will decide the winner.
What they said
Alexia Kammenou (GRE) — Head Coach
“We played against the Olympic silver medallist with a lot of respect. They have a coach who has a great knowledge. For sure the result was not bad, but on the other side we showed that we could even win the game. We have a lot of games in front of us, so we should stay focused and be better game by game. We need to forget this draw now and look forward to France, a serious and young team.”
Eleftheria Plevritou (GRE) —Three Goals
“The game was really tough. Spain is one of the best s in the world; for me, the best in Europe. We played really well; almost all the game we were in front. At the end it was a little bit bad with an equal score. Now we are looking for the last game of the group. Goal difference matters now; we want to be the first. We try to score as much as we can against France.”
Miguel Oca (ESP) — Head Coach
“We already knew that Greece was a very strong team to play against, therefore getting to a draw was an accomplishment for us as most of the game Greece was the team leading. After getting the point we need to keep on working especially on our defence and see how the game after tomorrow between France and Greece will turn out.”
Paula Camus (ESP— Athlete “We came to the game knowing how hard it would be to win against Greece. We were very close during the whole game, but at the end it wasn’t how we expected it to turn out. Still, we are quite happy that we got one important point against Greece. We keep on working till getting to the finals of the championship, but before anything, we’re concentrating on the game against Thailand.”
THAILAND 8 FRANCE 24
France did the job, but we will remember the match mostly for the outstanding achievement from the Thai women. They scored eight goals and made a 4-4 last quarter against a much stronger and more experienced team. With the win, France had a chance to reach second place in the group, but it needs to be so much better in defence to have any chance against Greece. Still the first steps for the fresh Thai team, but it was pretty clear that it was getting better game after game and most importantly they can play against some of the best teams in Europe.
Kritsana Puangtong led by example for her team, scoring four goals and four other players had their names etched on the scoresheet. Louise Guillet scored six from eight shots and was outstanding in this match.
France started a little slow and Thailand could score really early, but at the end of every quarter France showed good character and scored at least six goals in the first three. The fourth quarter was the best for Thailand.
Stats don’t lie
France took 39 shots and scored 24, which is really accurate (61 per cent). Both teams were more than 60 per cent in the extra-man situations.
The French were really good on attack, but it’s only half of the game, so they need to be good in defence, too, to have any chance against Greece. This is Thailand’s first international experience and it came here with teenagers. Getting better day by day, maybe it won’t finish in last place at the end.
What they said
Emilien Bugeaud (FRA) — Head Coach
“It wasn’t our best game, but it wasn’t a bad game. Result is here, the score is here. I’m not happy about the defence; we made too many mistakes, but the offence was OK. We could have been better for sure. There are some teams you don’t know how to play, so they can surprise you. Some of the girls were ready, some of them were not. We have a young team and we need to develop and I hope this team will be better in the future. We had a decent game in the World League European finals against Greece in April. We are ready and try to make a good result. In a day anything can happen, so let’s be on the good side.”
Louise Guillet (FRA) — Athlete
“We wanted to win this game, but the next step will be tough. We made some mistakes, to be honest. We got some goals that we cannot take normally. We were not concentrating 100 per cent. We lost against Greece by five goals, two months ago, but we have an opportunity to make something, and are ready to go.”
Natalya Rustamova (THA) — Head Coach
“I’m very happy with our team as you can tell that we are improving after playing the second game with such strong teams. We’re getting better and better at our defence; today we tried to put more effort into not getting (letting through) as many goals as last game. The most important is that the girls are very happy with the eight goals scored.” Kritsana Puangtong (THA) — Four Goals
“I’m very excited about today’s results, especially about scoring goals. I feel like we are already working much better as a team compared to the first game. All the girls are delighted with the success of today.”
Group Progress Points: Greece 3, Spain 3, France 2, Thailand 0.