The last day of the group stage at the 16th FINA World Cup in Berlin was highlighted by two thrilling clashes. Little details determined the rankings and the battles for the 1st places in the groups. Few would have guessed that Germany would take the 1st first place in its group. But, the host managed to finish atop of Group A ahead of Australia and Hungary. Serbia won the 1st place in Group B.
The 3rd competition day was kicked off by a water polo classic, which offered a lot of drama. Olympic and European champion Serbia and World champion Croatia shared the points – 10:10. This result put the Serbs into the 1st place, while Croatia ended as the 2nd team in Group B. The Croats have a better goal difference (Croatia 50:22, Serbia 45:21). By the FINA’s rules, in cases like this the most important criterium isn’t goal difference, but results against the 3rd-placed team, which was taken by the USA. One goal decided the outcome! Serbia beat the USA 14:8, while Croatia defeated the Americans 15:10.
One goal made a big difference. Serbia will face Japan in the quarterfinals, while the Croats will have much harder task, as they will play against Australia.
Croatia stunned the young Serbian team in the opening minutes of the big derby. The Croats rushed to a 3:0 lead. They were 4:2 up after the 1st period. The young team of Serbia started climbing back and equalized early in the 2nd quarter (4:4). Croatia didn’t lead a lot of time to earn a new 2-goal lead (6:4). For most of the time, world champions had an advantage. Serbia managed to equalize once more (7:7), but it wasn’t able to go in front. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Croatia was 10:8 up. Ognjen Stojanovic, the best scorer of the game, netted his 4th goal this evening for 9:10. Viktor Rasovic scored from an extra with 54 seconds from time, securing a 10:10 draw. This was the first draw in the encounters between Serbia and Croatia since 2014 (8:8 in the group stage at the European Championship in Budapest).
As expected, the USA beat South Africa with ease (15:6) and secured the 3rd place in the Group.
The finish of the run for the 1st place in the group A was more complicated than in Group B. Germany, Hungary and Australia earned 4 points each. In the last round, Australia defeated Germany 10:9, but it wasn’t enough for the “Aussies” to move from the 3rd place. Germany, which beat Hungary (12:10), and lost in the match with Australia by a goal, took the first place. Hungary (10:12 against Hungary, 9:8 against Australia) finished as the 2nd, by the FINA’s rules, while Australia was 3rd.
The last game of the group stage, Germany – Australia saw a big battle. Germany scored the first goal in the match. After that the “Aussies” controlled the result, but the gap between two sides wasn’t bigger than a goal, except Australia’s 6:4 advantage early in the third quarter. The last goal was scored by Lattan Edwards 2:54 from the end (10:9 for Australia). In the remaining time, both teams had nice chances, but nobody could hit the back of the net. After the last buzzer, Germany celebrated taking the 1st place, despite the defeat. They already took a big step towards semifinals, as they will meet South Africa in the quarterfinals.
Australia needed just one goal more. If thay had achieved a victory with a 2-goal margin, they would have finished atop of the group.
Top scorer, with five goals, was Joe Kayes, who will play for Pro Recco next season.
Hungary defeated Japan in a flood of goals. The Hungarians had a 8:3 lead after the 1st quarter. They slowed down in the next quarter, but they maintained a 5-goal advantage until halftime (11:6). Both sides scored 8 goals apiece in the second half of the game. Hungary, boosted by Gergo Zalnaki (5 goals) posted a 19:14 win. Hungary will meet the USA tomorrow.
FINA Men’s World Cup 2018, Day 3
Serbia 10:10 Croatia
(2:4, 3:2, 3:3, 2:1)
Serbia: Stojanovic 4, Lazic 2, Jaksic, Mandic, V. Rasovic, S. Rasovic.
Croatia: Vukicevic 3, Milos 2, Fatovic, Basic, Vrlic, Setka, Garcia.
South Africa 6:15 USA
(0:5, 2:3, 1:5, 3:2)
South Africa: Evezard 2, Prout, Rodda, Laurenson, Stewart.
USA: Irving 4, Obert 3, Cupido 2, Carniglia 2, Hooper, Hallock, Roelse, Stevenson.
1. Serbia 3 – 5
2. Croatia 3 – 5
3. USA 3 – 2
4. South Africa 3 – 0
(equal points – results against the 3rd-placed team: Serbia – USA 14:8, Croatia – USA 15:10)
Hungary 19:14 Japan
(8:3, 3:3, 3:4, 5:4)
Hungary: Zalnaki 5, Batori 3, Pasztor 3, S. Jansik 2, Manhercz 2, Mezei 2, Kovacs, Nagy.
Japan: Adachi 3, Inaba 3, Koppu 2, Okawa 2, Yoshida, Iida, Arai, Araki.
Germany 9:10 Australia
(1:2, 3:3, 3:3, 2:2)
Germany: Real 2, Stamm 2,Eidner 2, Reibel, Van der Bosch, Cuk.
Australia: Kayes 5, Campbell 2, Edwards, Hollis.
1. Germany 3 -4
2. Hungary 3 – 4
3. Australia 3 – 4
4. Japan 3 – 0
(equal points – Germany – Hungary 12:10, Hungary – Australia 9:8, Australia – Germany 10:9)
Quarterfinals (14 September)
Germany – South Africa
Hungary – USA
Australia – Croatia
Japan – Serbia