Greece won the gold medal at the 4th FINA World Men’s Youth Water Polo Championships, that was ended today in Szombathely (Hungary). The Greek teenagers beat Spain in the final game while home team Hungary clinched the bronze medal.
Greece led throughout the final match of the World U18 Championships. Spain managed to equalize just once (1:1), but it was a close battle until the end. The Greeks took a big step toward the gold medal in the finish of the 2nd quarter. They earned a 3-goal lead (7:4) 2:17 from halftime. Spain, led by Bernat Sanahuja (6 goals) controlled the second half of the match, but the Greeks kept their advantage. In the middle of the third period, they were 9:6 up.
The Greeks’ offense slowed down in the remaining period, but their defense worked pretty well. Spain came close in the 29th minutes (8:9). Both sides had their chances in the last three minutes, but goalkeepers (Piovan, Greece – 11 saves) and Garcia (Spain – 9 saves) did their job. Spain’s Asensio missed an action shot 40 seconds before the final buzzer, while the Greeks earned an extra player 20 seconds from time and everything was over. The new champions kept the ball and celebrated a 9:8 win. Greece came to the medal with 7 wins in as many games.
This was the first medal for Greece at the World Men’s Youth Championships. Spain water polo players had clinched one silver before Szombathely. They were second in Istanbul in 2014.
Games for places 3th – 8th
All today’s matches were outstanding battles with a lot of excitements.
Hungary won the bronze medal by beating Serbia in the game with a lot of twists and turns. The hosts built a 5:3 advantage in the first period and went 6:4 up early in the second quarter. Than came Serbia, with three action goals in a span of 1:59 minutes to take a 7:6 lead. At halftime, nobody had an advantage (7:7).
The Serbian “Dolphins” earned a 2-goal lead (11:9) deep into the third quarter. Hungary responded with three goals which proved crucial for their win. For the first time in the 2nd half they went ahead – 12:11, with 05:13 remaining on the clock. Serbia equalized – 12:12 (2:46 before the end). Hungary hit the back of the net twice in a span of 62 seconds for 14:12 (00:57 on the clock). Serbia netted its 13th goal when it was too late – 10 seconds from time. The hosts clinched the bronze, with a 14:13 win.
Hungary remained the only team which won a medal at all four World Men’s Youth Championships (silver 2012, gold 2014, bronze 2016, bronze 2018).
Italy overcame Croatia after the penalty shoot-out in the clash for the 5th place – 15:13. Croatia led for most of the time, but the gap was never bigger than 2 goals. Italy was ahead just twice (1:0 and 8:7). The Croats were very close to the win, but Italy’s Faraglia found the net just two seconds from the end (10:10) and secured a penalty shoot-out.
Montenegro met Australia in the match for the 7th place. It seemed that the match wouldn’t have a thrilling finish, as the Montenegrins built a big 7:2 advantage by halftime.Montenegro led 8:3 in the 20th minute. However, the “Aussi Sharks” didn’t give up. They narrowed the gap to one (9:10) in the middle of the last quarter, but they weren’t able to equalize. The Montenegrins won 12:11.
Results, rankings, awards history
Spain 8:9 Greece
(3:3, 1:4, 3:2, 1:0)
Spain: Sanahuja 6, Bertam, Echevarria.
Greece: Kalogeropoulos 3, A. Chalyvopoulos, Kovrouvanis, Braime, Grammatikos, Papanikolaou, Dimou.
For bronze medal
Hungary 14:13 Serbia
(5:4, 2:3, 3:4, 4:2)
Hungary: Bobis 5, Baksa 2, Szeghalmi 2, Fekete 2, Dala 2, Schemolcz.
Serbia: Radovic 4, A. Mitrovic 3, Stanojevic 2, Sulc 2, Ganic, P. Mitrovic.
For 5th place
Croatia 13:15 Italy
(3:1, 3:3, 2:4, 2:2, 3:5)
Croatia: Penava 4, Bajic 2, Markic 2, Culina 2, Brubnjak, Radulovic, Herceg.
Italy: Di Martire 3, Faraglia 3, Iodice 2, Condemi 2, Antonucci, Giannazza, Mezzaroba, Narciso, Ferrero.
For 7th place
Montenegro 12:11 Australia
(2:2, 5:0, 3:5, 2:4)
Montenegro: Radovic 4, Mitrovic 3, Gardasevic 2, Draskovic, Vujovic, Milic.
Australia: Humby 4, Collins 2, Taylor 2, Kyriakou 2, Oberman.
14. New Zealand
15. South Africa
18. Saudi Arabia
Most Valuable Player:Nikolaos-Sry Papanikolaou (Greece)
Best goalkeeper:Unai Aguirre (Spain)
Top scorer:Ahmed Elsapagh (Egypt), 29 goals
All medal winners
Perth, 2012: 1. Italy, 2. Hungary, 3. Serbia.
Istanbul, 2014: 1. Hungary, 2. Spain, 3. Russia
Podgorica, 2016: 1. Croatia, 2. Montenegro, 3. Hungary.
Szombathely, 2018: 1. Greece, 2. Spain, 3. Hungary.