Georgia sensationally pushed Montenegro to a one-goal victory — 10-9 — in what could have been a massive boilover to start the night’s entertainment at Margaret Island in Budapest in Group A action. Hungary’s men then made sure of a huge margin against Brazil, finishing 20-6 to ensure a second victory and the probability of claiming the group should it topple Georgia on Saturday.
Group A — Budapest
GEORGIA 9 MONTENEGRO 10
Someone forgot to tell Georgia you shouldn’t rain on the parade of the long-standing men’s water polo nations. Georgia downed Brazil 14-10 on the first men’s day and tonight came back from three down three times to level at four and eight, before succumbing 10-9 to Montenegro. What could have been a dour charge by Montenegro was an exciting, action-filled encounter in which Georgia laid realistic claims to a top-eight position. Montenegro led 4-1 at the first break suffered a goal-less second quarter for 4-4, shot to 7-4, 8-5, and only had an 8-7 advantage at the final break. Jovan Saric converted a penalty shot for 8-8 to start the final period. Man-of-the-match Bogdan Durdic blasted in his fourth goal on a booming counter and Vasilije Radovic scored from the deep right off a snap pass for 10-8 at 3:49. Andria Bitadze pulled one back off the right-post position on extra-man attack at 3:06 and the match was there for the taking. Georgia had an extra-man chance in the dying seconds and shot twice, only for Dejan Lazovic to stop each one with the last almost on the line to save the victory.
Durdic nailed three of his goals from the top at crucial moments while Dusan Matkovic had two in the bag by quarter time and Radovic’s pair in the second half helped get Montenegro over the line. Lazovic dragged down five balls in his short time in the pool. For the unlucky Georgia, Dusan Vasic scored three.
A two-goal break late in the first, a three-goal burst in the third and the two-goal advantage in the fourth was Montenegro’s best moments. For Georgia, coming back thrice from three down was phenomenal and those three goals spanning the final break for 8-8 set the stage for a glory finish.
Stats don’t Lie
Georgia converted four from 12 on extra-man attack and Montenegro three from eight, showing that defence was the key to both teams’ play.
Georgia deserves to do well in Budapest and the showing tonight was outstanding. Montenegro received a shake-up but came through when needed. This is what the group play is all about.
What they said
Vladimir Gojkovic (MNE) — Head Coach
“Before the game we knew this victory would be important for us, because we want to be in second position in the ranks. We started the game well, but missed a lot of chances. We should analyse what happened, but after that we have to go on, because this is my team. I am satisfied with my team after all, we could do our job against Hungary as well.”
Dejan Lazovic (MNE) — Goalkeeper
“It was a difficult game for us. I expected that, because Georgia is a good team with a lot of excellent players, who play against the biggest clubs in Europe. Our team is very young; for four players this is the first international competition. The next game against Brazil probably won’t be so difficult like the first two, but we have to focus from the beginning to the end.”
Dejan Stanojevic (GEO) — Head Coach
“We need a little time for the emotions to come down, but if we had controlled the counter attack better, we could even have won the game, but Montenegro is a much better team right now. Our performance was better than on the first day, so I was satisfied after all. We could continue our journey in this championship. The last group game against Hungary is priority for us. We get a chance to play against one of the best teams right now, in the best stadium I have ever seen. It is a privilege for my team to play in this arena where 5000-6000 fans are cheering, and I think for them it will be the best game in the world.”
Boris Vapenski (GEO) — Goal Scorer
“This is my 15th game in this season where I lost by one goal... so I cannot be satisfied. We need to work more. The young team of Montenegro showed us that hard work paid off at the end. We prepared together only for two weeks. I think that is the biggest problem. I would like to congratulate my team but to Montenegro, as well. To my team especially, because our improvement is obvious. If we keep working like this, we can be much better and who knows, maybe next time we can win this game. For example, at the European Championships.”
HUNGARY 20 BRAZIL 6
Hungary went two from two in defeating Brazil by a handsome score that suggests it could now lay claim to strong medal possibilities. The loss to Croatia in the same pool five years ago still rankles. Hungary had all the artillery and used it frequently. With periods of 7-1, 4-2, 4-1 and 5-2, Hungary pleased the packed house who roared for every Hungarian goal. Brazil was stymied at almost every position and struggled hard for its goals, gaining two of the last three scores and the last two seconds from time.
Denes Varga (HUN) snapped up the player-of-the-match award for his excellent play and his smart tip-in score for the second goal. He scored once more and afterwards he spoke to the crowd that hung on every word. Old-stage Balazs Harai, at 35 one of the most senior players here and competing in his final world championships, scored twice. Rafael Real (33) snapped up two goals for Brazil, including a deflection that caught the goalkeeper off-guard.
What turning point? It was the opening whistle. Hungary went on a romp that had most players scoring and enjoying themselves as Brazil found just what it is like to compete at this level in Hungary.
Stats don’t lie
Hungary went five from 10 on extra-man attack and Brazil managed two from six, but this is not the statistic that counted tonight. It was the fact that Hungary shot 37 times to Brazil’s 22 that made the difference. Both Brazilian goalkeepers made six saves.
Hungary now needs to continue the rage against Georgia on Saturday and that could prove to be an even more interesting
What they said
Tamas Marcz (HUN) — Head Coach
“From the outside, it seemed to be a gala game, but I wanted to use this opportunity to refresh my players, score their first goals. I asked my team to keep our speed, not bow to the rival team’s play, just play our own game. I also asked them to enjoy the match and to practise our tactics. The spectators were amazing; they push the players to score more and more goals. Georgia is a massive team with a lot of experienced players, we prepare for them and want to continue what we have started.”
Adam Nagy (HUN) — Goal Scorer
“Our head coach asked us to take the game seriously from the first minute; let’s go for it hard and we just did that. I’d add that we really enjoyed the game; it’s fantastic what the audience gives; we get a huge extra boost from the fans. The atmosphere is magical; everyone is here to cheer for us. I expect a victory against Georgia, but we still have to work hard and enjoy the game at the same time.”
Barbaro Diaz (BRA) — Head Coach
“It was very interesting for the Brazil team to play a strong team like Hungary. We have a young team; three players just have experience in a great championship and we are preparing for next year. I am just waiting for my players to play their best at the next game and play nice water polo.”
Gustavo Coutinho (BRA) — Goal Scorer
“It was a hard game for some of us. It is just the first match in a champions’ level; our young team have to learn from every game and prepare for the next championships. This crowd was awesome, even if they were cheering against us. I really love to be part of it. We are happy to play here, and it is a pleasure to play in this historical pool. We need to play our best, to improve a little bit more. Improve, improve, improve… Every game is a little bit better.”
Group Progress Points: Hungary 4, Montenegro 2, Georgia 2, Brazil 0.