The distinctive feature of the third day of Women’s U-19 European Water Polo Championship was a lot of positional battling. Passing the group stage equator, the team are already starting to sum up the points gained and take a closer look at their potential opponents in quarterfinals.
After yesterday’s defeat from the Hungarians, Spain was determined to take revenge in the game against the Netherlands. For a little more than two periods, the game was even. The second half of the third period could be pivotal in this thrilling match, when the Netherlands made a heroic spurt scoring four goals. But it did not take “la furia roja” long to recover from shock, and with two and a half minutes remaining in the final quarter, it scored an equalizer - 9-9. However, these were Team Holland’s players who kept their composure. Their right decisions gave them a victory by the slightest margin - 10-9(2-2,2-1,4-3,2-3).
Team Russia was also craving to make amends after their poor performance against Italy. The players’ chance to improve their standings was a game against Greece. From the very first minutes into the game, the Russians set up such a carousel of high-speed combinations in water that it made their opponents dizzy. Occasional failures of the home team were compensated by swift and efficient attacks that went through the Greek defense like a knife. Anna Karnaukh was determined to keep her net safe and denied several dangerous shots including a 5-meter penalty shot. Interceptions, counter attacks, defense, offense, complex combinations and individual skills – today, Team Russia was good in all components of the game. Mikhail Nakoryakov’s team wins 13-6 (0-3, 3-2, 1-5, 2-3).
Team Great Britain also improved their position in the group after a confident victory over Ukraine 14-3 (3-0, 4-1, 3-1, 4-1). Two virtually equal teams were to show good rivalry, but the Ukrainians never got close enough. Primarily so, as the British players capitalized on almost all of their scoring chances, while their opponents’ shots were far from sharp and the team lacked agility near the British net.
The match between Italy and Turkey turned out to be a “one-way game”. For the young Turkish players such games are a real workshop presented by the leading water polo nations. Meanwhile, for the Italians today’s game turned into an exhibition gala when one can simply show beautiful combinations and even prettier goals without any extra nerve. Four periods of Team Italy’s domination and the first “whitewash” win at the U-19 European Championship - 22-0 (9-0, 5-0, 6-0, 2-0).
- For us, the most important game was yesterday, against Russia, - Italy’s coach Paolo Zizza comments on preliminary results. – I am very glad we managed to win, as Team Russia is much stronger. And I am sure the Russians will make it to the final. If we are lucky and manage to beat other tough opponents, such as Hungary, for instance, then Russia and Italy might face each other again.
The match between France and Germany could hardly change anything in the prospects of medal distribution of the Women’s U-19 European Water Polo Championship. However, for the so-called “second line” this local rivalry was extremely interesting and crucial. Both the Germans and the French were hoping for nothing less than a victory, and the coaches on both ends were so excited that one might think they were fighting for all gold of the world, not for preliminary standings of group stage. In this storm of emotions, the French fleet was more coherent. France wins - 13-4 (3-0,3-0,3-1,4-3) after the final whistle.