Hungary clinched the gold medal in the 2nd FINA/LEN Europa Cup. The Hungarians beat Croatia, the 2018 Europa Cup winner, by two goals (10:8) in the final game played in Zagreb today.
Spain took the 3rd place, by defeating Italy in the game for the bronze medal (9:7). In the match for the 5th place, Montenegro was better than Serbia (16:14). Greece edged out Russia in the encounter for the 7th place (15:14).
The medal winners qualified for the World League Super Final, which will take place in Belgrade (June 18 – 23). Besides Hungary, Croatia, and Spain, five teams will play at the Super Final: Australia, Japan, Canada, Kazakhstan (top 4 teams at the Intercontinental tournament) and host Serbia.
Final: Hungary – Croatia
The Hungarians, which took the 6th place at the 2018 Europa Cup, led for most of the time. They had a 2:1 advantage in the middle of the first quarter.
World champion Croatia managed to turn around the deficit to a 3:2 lead early in the second period. Hungary responded strongly, with four goals in a row. Tamas Marcz’s squad went 6:3 up in the 18th minute. Hungary kept Croatia scoreless for ten minutes. That 4:0 run proved vital in Hungary’s win. The Hungarians managed to keep a 3-goal advantage until the end of the third quarter (8:5).
The last hope for the hosts was Loren Fatovic’s goal from extra for 7:9 (03:38 remaining on the clock). The Croats had 15 man-ups during the match. This was the only one which they managed to convert to a goal (Hungary converted three of 8 man-ups).
Zalnaki soon scored for 10:7 (02:52 before the end) and everything was decided. Vrlic found the net for the final score 10:8 when it was too late – 01:44 from the final buzzer.
The hosts managed to stop Hungary captain Denes Vargam who was the MVP in the wins in semifinal and quarterfinals. Varga didn’t find the net in the final. The key players in the Hungarians’ win were Krisztian Manhercz (3 goals) and a goalkeeper Viktor Nagy. The top scorer in the Croatian team was Loren Fatovic (3 goals).
Hungary 10:8 Croatia
(2:2, 3:1, 3:2, 2:3)
Hungary: Manhercz 3, Angyal, Zalnaki, Vamos, Nemet, Kovacs, Erdelyi, Batori.
Croatia: Fatovic 3, Jokovic 2, Buljubasic, Buslje, Vrlic.
For bronze medal: Spain – Italy
The encounter between Spain and Italy was not just battle for the bronze medal, but a battle for the last remaining ticket for the World League Super Final.
Italy opened the scoring, but Spain grabbed a 2-goal lead late in the first period (3:1). Italy equalized (3:3) in the 11th minute. There were no goals until the end of the 2nd quarter, so the teams were tied at halftime.
Spain water polo players dominated in the third period. They netted three goals in a span of fewer than three minutes to build a 3-goal gap (6:3). They had an 8:5 lead 10 seconds before the last break, but Di Fulvio scored from an extra five seconds from the end of the 3rd quarter and Italy trailed 6:8 in the start of the last eight minutes.
After a lot of missed chances on both sides, Figlioli hit the back of the net from a penalty with 1:24 remaining on the clock (7:8). The “Settebello” had a man-up attack to equalize, but they wasted it. Spain had the last possession. Alberto Munnariz set the final score, with his third goal 14 seconds before the last buzzer, and Spain won 9:7. The silver-medalists at the last year’s Europa Cup and European Championships secured the bronze and continued their World League campaign.
Italy 7:9 Spain
(1:3, 2:0, 3:5, 1:1)
Italy: Figlioli 2, Di Fulvio, Renzuto, Echenique, N. Presciutti, Aicardi.
Spain: Munarriz 3, Mallarach 3, Barroso, Tahull, Perrone.
For 5th place: Montenegro – Serbia
Despite the match for the 5th place wasn’t important, the clash of two big rivals offered, as usual, a great battle. The game turned into a scoring festival, with 30 goals (and 32 exclusions – 16 on each side).
After the first eight minutes, Serbia was a step ahead of Montenegro (6:5). The second period belonged to the Montenegrins, who entered the second half with a 2-goal lead (10:8). They doubled an advantage in the third period (14:10). Early in the fourth quarter, Montenegro went 15:10 up, but Serbia, which played without injured Andrija Prlainovic, came back and trailed 14:15 a minute and a half before the end. In the next possession, Montenegro earned a penalty. Ivovic didn’t miss and secured a 16:14 victory for his team.
Montenegro 16:14 Serbia
(5:6, 5:2, 4:2, 2:4)
Montenegro: Janovic 3, Ivovic 3, Spaic 2, Murisic 2, M. Petkovic 2, Dj. Radovic, Draskovic.
Serbia: Pijetlovic 4, Filipovic 3, S. Rasovic 3, Mandic, Dedovic, Cuk, Jaksic.
For 7th place: Greece – Russia
The game for the 7th place also saw a flood of goals. Greece defeated Russia by a goal (15:14).
Russia 14:15 Greece
(3:3, 4:5, 2:4, 5:3)
Russia: Kholod 3, Shepelev 3, Naagev 3, Merkulov 2, Bychkov 2, Dereviankin.
Greece: Genidounias 4, Vlachopoulos 4, Gounas 2, Mourikis 2 Fountoulis 2, Dervisis
2nd FINA/LEN Europa Cup Final Eight (Zagreb, April 4th – 7th)
Hungary – Montenegro 11:7 (4:2, 2:3, 1:1, 4:1)
Spain – Serbia 13:12 (5:4, 3:1, 3:4, 2:3)
Italy – Russia 11:9 (3:3, 3:2, 1:3, 4:1)
Greece – Croatia 11:13 (2:1, 4:5, 1:4, 4:3)
Semifinals, places 5 – 8
Montenegro – Russia 15:9 (4:3, 2:1, 3:2, 6:3)
Serbia – Greece 14:10 (3:4, 5:4, 3:1, 3:1)
Semifinals, places 1 – 4
Hungary – Italy 12:11 (3:4, 3:3, 4:2, 2:2)
Spain – Croatia 9:12 (3:4, 2:1, 3:3, 1:4)
7th-8th place: Russia – Greece 14:15 (3:3, 4:5, 2:4, 5:3)
5th-6th place: Montenegro – Serbia 16:14 (5:6, 5:2, 4:2, 2:4)
Bronze medal match: Italy – Spain 7:9(1:3, 2:0, 3:5, 1:1)
Final: Hungary – Croatia 10:8 (2:2, 3:1, 3:2, 2:3)