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Georgia withstands Turkey comeback for historic 2014 Europeans berth

Spain and France were the first to join the already qualified teams for the upcoming 2014 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary out of the qualification play-offs on Saturday. Spain, playing without stars such as Guillermo Molina, Marc Minguell, lefthander Xavi Garcia and top scorer Albert Español, rolled past Ukraine at home in Mataro 25-6 followed by France who defeated Malta 6-20, both after having won their respective first leg games with clear margins earlier. Although the French side was more or less regarded qualified after a clear leg 1 victory the confirmation on Saturday means they will return to Europe's main international stage after a 13-year absence when, indeed, the 2001 European Championships were held in Budapest as well.

The anticipated tense finish of the series between Turkey and Georgia got close as expected. Turkey rallied back on home soil in Istanbul coming back from a 8-4 loss in leg 1 to beat the visitors 12-9 at home. Just a single goal seperated the two sides of forcing a finish with a penalty shootout. But it was not to be as Georgia hung on and survived with a 17-16 aggregate to ensure their participation at the 2014 European champs. A historic one as the team was seeking its first major competition to qualify for and got their reward on Saturday.

The remaining games on Saturday produced no further upsets as Croatia and Romania posted respective second dominant wins to secure their places at the 2014 European Championships. Paulo Obradovic took off for the 2012 Olympic champions scoring six goals in a 14-6 win over Slovakia in Dubrovnik while Romania held on to a 10-goal margin in the final score against Great Britain, this time in Sunderland, UK. A balanced attack with ten goal scorer led the Romanians, and their new head coach Dejan Stanojevic to another planned but desired European Championships participation.

Russia was the last team to qualify for Budapest, marking a return to Europe's main stage after missing out on action at the 2012 edition in Eindhoven, Netherlands after beating the 2012 hosts 12-10 in leg 2 in Moscow on Sunday. The visitors made a final push in the fourth quarter but could not overcome a superior Russian side that had created a seemingly comfortable lead in the first three quarters including a 4-0 start to the game.

European Championships 2014 - Play-offs men's qualification

Fixtures leg 2

Saturday, 1 Mach 2014
Spain* vs. Ukraine 25-6 (4-0, 9-1, 6-2, 6-3) – in Mataro, Spain
Spain scorers: Alberto Munarriz 5, Alberto Barroso 3, Victor Gutierrez 3, Francisco Fernandez 3, Miguel de Toro 3, Ruben de Lera 2, Alejandro Bustos 2, Vicente Matoso 2, Balazs Sziranyi, Pere Estrany.

Ukraine scorers: Volodymyr Syntyk 2, Yevgen Obedisnkyy 2, Tymur Shylin, Volodymyr Voitenko.

Pictured: Spain's Alberto Munarriz takes a shot and head coach Gabriel Hernandez speaks to his men.
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Malta vs. France* 6-20 (1-6, 2-2, 3-6, 0-6) – in Gzira, Malta
Malta scorers: Steve Camilleri 2, Niki Lanzon, Jerome Gabarretta, Matthew Zammit, Jordan Camilleri.

France scorers: Michael Bodegas 5, Romain Blary 3, Alexandre Camarasa 3, Thibaut Simon 2, Manuel Laversanne 2, Mehdi Marzouki 2, Enzo Khasz, Mathieu Peisson, Loris Jeleff.

Turkey vs. Georgia* 12-9 (2-3, 3-3, 4-1, 3-2) – in Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey scorers: Arslan Sutalo 4, Anik Sönmez 3, Cemil Özbakis, Atakan Destici, Mihajlo Korolija, Halil Beskardesler, Alican Cagatay.

Georgia scorers: Marko Jelaca 5, Marko Elez 2, Revaz Chomakhidze, Marino Franicevic.
Croatia* vs. Slovakia 14-6 (3-0, 3-2, 4-3, 4-1) – in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Croatia scorers: Paulo Obradovic 6, Niksa Dobud 3, Luka Bukic, Maro Jokovic, Petar Muslim, Ante Viskovic, Andelo Setka.

Slovakia scorers: Martin Mravik 2, Jozef Hrosir, Marin Kolarik, Andrej Janicek, Tomas Bruder.

Great Britain vs. Romania* 8-18 (5-3, 1-3, 1-5, 1-7) – in Sunderland, Great Britain
Great Britain scorers: Ciaran James 3, Glen Robinson 2, Thomas Curwen 2, Jake Vincent.

Romania scorers: Tiberiu Negrean 3, Nicolae Diaconu 2, Daniel Teohari 2, Mihnea Chioveanu 2, Alexandru Ghiban 2, Andrei Cretu, Alexandru Matei, Dimitri Goanta, Ramiro Georgescu, Alex Popoviciu.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Russia vs. Netherlands 12-10 (4-1, 4-4, 3-2, 1-3) – in Moscow, Russia
Russia scorers: Artem Odintsov 2, Ivan Nagaev 2, Alexey Ryzhov-Alenichev 2, Konstantin Stepanyuk 2, Albert Zinnatulin, Artem Ashaev, Vladislav Timakov, Dmitry Antipov.

Netherlands scorers: Luuk Gielen 2, Robin Lindhout 2, Yoran Frauenfelder, Willem-Wouter Gerritse, Lars Gottemaker, Roeland Spijker, Alex Roelse, Mattijs Lucas.

*qualified for Budapest 2014.

Men's 2014 European Championships (14-27 July) qualified teams:

- Hungary (host nation)
- Serbia
- Montenegro
- Italy
- Germany
- Greece
- Spain
- France
- Georgia
- Croatia
- Romania
- Russia

Pictured: Goalie Iñaki Aguilar was one of the veterans called up for Spain's leg 2 game by new head coach Gabriel Hernandez.

The European Championships draw will be held on Sunday 9 March in Budapest. Tune in to Waterpoloworld for live results.

Fixtures leg 1 results
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Romania vs. Great Britain 18-7 (3-2, 4-2, 6-2, 5-1) – in Bucharest, Romania
Romania scorers: Nicolai Diaconu (pictured) 6, Daniel Teohari 3, Alexandru Matei 2, Cosmin Radu 2, Andrei Cretu, Alexandru Ghiban, Andrei Busila, Ramiro Georgescu, Tiberiu Negrean.

Great Britain: Joe O' Regan 4, Ciaran James 2, Jack Waller.

Ukraine vs. Spain 5-17 (1-3, 2-5, 2-5, 0-4) – in Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine
Ukraine scorers: Maksym Ratkov 3, Tymur Shylyn, Yevgen Obedinskyy.

Spain scorers: Albert Español 4, Xavi Garcia 3, Fran Fernandez 3, Marc Minguell 3, Alberto Munarriz, Alberto Barroso, Guillermo Molina, Victor Gutierrez.

Slovakia vs. Croatia 8-16 (2-5, 2-4, 1-4, 3-3) – in Novaky, Slovakia
Slovakia scorers: Jozef Hrosik 2, Tomas Bruder 2, Martin Famera, Lukas Durik, Tomas Bielik, Michal Kratochvil.

Croatia scorers: Maro Jokovic 4, Kristijan Milakovic 3, Andelo Setka 3, Luka Loncar 2, Paulo Obradovic 2, Petar Muslim, Niksa Dobud.
Georgia vs. Turkey 8-4 (3-1, 2-1, 2-1, 1-1) – in Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgia scorers: Marko Jelaca 3, Damir Tsrepulia 2, Marko Elez, Zurab Rurua.

Turkey scorers: Cemil Özbakis 3, Arslan Sutalo.

France vs. Malta 20-8 (4-3, 6-2, 7-2, 3-1) – in Montpellier, France
France scorers: Alexandre Camarasa 5, Rémi Saudadier 3, Enzo Khasz 3, Mehdi Marzouki 3, Arnaud Jablonski 2, Romain Blary 2, Thibault Simon, Loris Jeleff.

Malta scorers: Steven Camilleri 4, Niki Lanzon, Matthew Zammit, Clint Mercieca, Dino Zammit.
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Netherlands vs. Russia 9-11 (3-1, 1-3, 3-4, 2-3)  – in Utrecht, Netherlands
Netherlands scorers: Robin Lindhout 3, Lars Gottemaker 2, Roeland Spijker 2, Willem-Wouter Gerritse, Joep van den Bersselaar.

Russia scorers: Roman Shepelev 3, Artem Odintsov 2, Dmitry Kholod 2, Alexey Ryzhiv-Alenichev, Ivan Nagaev, Konstantin Stepanyuk, Artem Ashaev.

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