© Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia

Greece control Spain, meet Serbia in semis

It was the question whether their hard-fought win over Romania would be of any disadvantage playing Spain in the quarterfinals just a day later. But Greece showed to be in good rythm and shape. A controlled 2-6 win over Spain has the Theodoros Vlachos coached side in the semifinals for the first time since 1999 when the team played their best result finishing 4th in Florence, Italy as the bronze medal match there was lost to Italy 7-6. Now Greece reached the objective by qualifying for the semifinals thanks to great defence and some nice shooting by top scorer Ioannis Fountoulis who stood up once more when it counted scoring 3 goals despite going 3 for 7 in total for a 42,9% shooting percentage. The team's nice help defence and great goalkeeping by Konstantinos Flegkas troubled Spain who experienced a rough match. Top scorer Albert Español and Guillermo Molina went a combine 0-for-11 in the loss while Olympiacos left-hander Blai Mallarach top scorer the Spaniards with 2 goals against many of his club team-mates. Greece meanwhile did not had a great shooting night either just going 6 for 27 as a team but could overcome that by simply controlling the Spanish offence who were held to scoring just 2.
Top scorer Ioannis Fountoulis was proud of his team's performance: ''We came here concentrated, forgot the game against Romania and our tiredness. This was like a final for us. We analysed Spain very well and I think that was shown today. Maybe it was not such an exciting match but it was a tactical match from us. I can say we're very proud that we took the win this way'', Fountoulis said. Now Greece is set to meet hosts Serbia in the semifinals, on Wednesday. Fountoulis looks foward: ''We will play in front of a full house. We will have to try to impose our game and get Serbia maybe 'down' a little bit. Maybe they will beat us 9 out of 10 times but who knows what happens this time. We will be prepared.''

Serbia vs. Russia

Photo: Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia.

Meeting Greece in the semifinals will be hosts Serbia who defeated Russia 15-5 in the 2nd quarterfinal on display at the Kombank Arena on Monday. After a bit slow offensive start by the home team, playing in front of a capacity crowd, it was Andrija Prlainovic who took his team by the hand in the opening period. Prlainovic scored the teams first pair of goals, including a nice static shot from the right wing as the shot clock expired to get Serbia in front 2-1. As Lev Magomaev equalised over a minute later, it was Dusan Mandic who set the score to 3-2 at the end of the quarter blasting home a free throw.
Things changed however in the second quarter as Serbia took the initiative and started taking control of the match. On defence the Russians were disrupted and held away from the goal while on offence the extra man play started to pay off. The next three goals were scored 'on extra' with in between Filip Filipovic shooting home a shot on a counter attack. It boosted the score up to 7-3 at half-time with Serbian havign the game in a firm grib. They did not let go, in fact took over in the 3rd session where the game was basically decided. A variety of goals, from centre forward, to counter attack, to a penalty shot; all went in as Serbia walked away to leading 11-5 with just 8 minutes to go. It allowed the game an easy final period where Serbia controlled and the advantage was just extended by four more goals, including the final 2 by Slobodan Nikic, on extra man, and a nice centre-forward drive with 4 seconds on the clock. The 10-goal difference in the end were perhaps a bit much but Serbia were never endangered in the second quarter by the rejuvenated but, well performing team of Russia who finally made it back to the final 8 this tournament. It shows the progression and perhaps comeback of Russian men's water polo but for now 5th place will be the highest possible ranking for the Erkin Shagaev coached side. Spain will be the first opponent on that road.
Joint top-scorer of the Serbian team, Andrija Prlainovic, naturally was satisfied post-game: ''Maybe in the beginning we needed some good defensive efforts to realise we were also capable of doing well in attack. We suffered some unusual goals in the beginning, but after that started to play very well on defence, with also our goalkeeper Branislav Mitrovic doing very well'', Prlainovic responded. On the upcoming semifinal match-up with Greece: ''It will be a good, interesting game. I think they, together with us, showed a bit more in the last year in world water polo. I'm really looking forward and believe that they deserved to be in the semis. But it will be tough. They are a team who understands the meaning of team but are unique with very specific players. Greece is doing well so far, but I also think we are on a good run''.

Romania vs. Malta

Romania rebounded from their tough loss to Greece in the round of last 16 on Sunday by going for 9th place in the rankings straight away on Monday morning. Malta was beaten 7-12 in the day's opener as Romania will now face the winner of Slovakia-Germany in the semifinals for 9th place, to be played on Wednesday. Most of the damage to the Maltese defence was done in the first half. Here shooter Tiberiu Negrean already went for 4 for 5 while Alexandru Ghiban added 2 more goals for the 4-9 half-time score. Shooting 9 for 16 as a team, including 6 for 6 on action shots, the Romanian offence proved too much for Malta. In the second half Romania could control the match allowing Malta top scorer Steven Camilleri to go for 4 goals. For the debuting Karl Izzo coached side however, finishing in 13th place will now be the main objective.

Slovakia vs. Germany

The first match to be decided by penalties was on display Monday morning. Here Slovakia and Germany fought to stay in the race for 9th place, with the loser likely out of contention for the Olympic Qualification tournament as the top 12 of this tournament are likely to be eligble at this point. In a sensational finish including 15 penalties Germany came out as winners showing their resillience after their tough loss to Russia yesterday. Even in the game against Slovakia they had to come back from trailing on numerous occasions. Including the game's final phase where Serbia-born Marin Restovic emerged as game saver scoring twice in a row to get Germany back to 8-8 after Slovakia youngster Maros Tkac had put Slovakia in front 8-6 with 3.42 to go. But the Germans were not done, not at all, in fact. Restovic scored twice from his right side, the second one on a deadly counter attack; a nice job by the team that had played a game the night before but now struck that late in a close game.
In a tense final minute Germany defended well after Paul Schueler was excluded, and again in the final seconds to block an attempt of Juraj Zatovic saving the tie and confirming the penalty shootout.
The penalty series seemed to get a finish early as Paul Schueler missed the first attempt for Germany but Martin Famera did the same in the following attempt for Slovakia. Then a long series of converted shots followed. No less than 12 attempts later, a decision was at hand as Tomas Bruder saw his attempt being saved by Germany goalkeeper Moritz Schenkel, who was brought in the game by head coach Patrick Weissinger for the shootout. On the other end Erik Bukowski held his nerves and shot home the winner as Germany will now face Romania in the semifinals for 9th place while Slovakia continue for a maximal 13th place ranking.

Women's matches

In the bottom of group A debutants Turkey were close to a historic draw or even win but could not tie Portugal in the final quarter as the Portugese women held on to beat Turkey 11-10 for their first win of these Europeans. Therewith they overcame a monster game from Kubra Kus who scored 7 goals for Turkey. In the end Portugal got their first win but both sides will miss out on the quarterfinals.

Starting the 2nd session were the Netherlands and Greece. The Dutch, already sure of the group win, but still unbeaten, experienced a rough start against the focussed Greek squad who took a quick 3-0 lead and stayed sharp to maintain their lead throughout three quarters in which the first defeat for the Netherlands seemed to be uphand. However, the Netherlands remained calm and slowly but surely got back in the game.
That didn't meant things got better for the Arno Havenga coached squad. Greece showed some resillience themselves by walking away again in the third period following a 5-6 score to extend it to 6-10 with 3 minutes remaining in the period. Then however the Dutch started a real comeback. Sabrina van der Sloot was the first to score for the Netherlands with just 4 seconds remaining bring back the score to 7-10. In the final period the Dutch defence looked to have found the answer and intensity level to stop Greece while on the other end counter their way to the victory. Three counter attack goals in a row made the score to be tied at 10-10 with 3.45 on the clock. And as Maud Megens was responsible for netting the equaliser, she even became the game winner for the 2014 Europeans silver medallists as she hit a nice shot from way out with 1 minute remaining. In the next posession an active Dutch defence stole the ball and could play out the clock to secure the nice victory, their 5th in a row to confirm their top position in group A, and their place in the quarterfinals where now group B's number 4 await.

The battle for 2nd place in group A was up next as Hungary faced Russia. A game that looked to belong to Hungar got close in the end as Russia made a nice comeback but ultimately fell to the Magyars who showed their resillience and through Anna Illes, on extra man, got the win 11-10 as she secored the winner with just 47 seconds on the clock. It erased the Russian comeback that saw the girls coming back from trailing 10-6 in the final quarter to tie at 10-10 through an Evgeniya Ivanova goal. Russia looked to have gained the momentum, but Anna Illes decided the outcome in Hungary's favour. Top scorer for Hungary on Monday, once more, was Rita Keszthelyi who scored 6 goals in the win. In the quarterfinals they will now face group B's number 3, likely to be France, on Wednesday.

2016 European Championships
Belgrade (SRB)

Kombank Arena

Programme and results

Monday, January 18:

Malta vs. Romania 7-12 (2-4, 2-5, 1-1, 2-2) - men (ranking 9-16, match 9)
Malta scorers: Steven Camilleri 4, Niki Lanzon, Jordan Camilleri, Aurelien Cousin.

Romania scorers: Tiberiu Negrean 5, Alexandru Ghiban 3, Cosmin Radu, Mihnea Gheorghe, Andrei Busila, Alex Popoviciu.

Slovakia vs. Germany 15-16 (3-1, 1-1, 2-4, 2-2; penalties: 7-8) - men (ranking 9-16, match 10)
Slovakia scorers: Juraj Zatovic 2, Maros Tkac 2, Martin Famera, Jozef Hrosik, Lukas Duric, Lukas Seman.

Germany scorers: Heiko Nossek 2, Marko Stamm 2, Marin Restovic 2, Erik Bukowski, Maurice Jüngling.

Portugal vs. Turkey 11-10 (2-2, 3-3, 4-1, 2-4) - women
Portugal scorers: Elisabete Matos 3, Mariana Sarmento 3, Ines Nunes 2, Ines Braga 2, Susana Costa.

Turkey scorers: Kubra Kus 7, Melda Fatma Idrisoglu 2, Melek Cavlak.

Netherlands vs. Greece 11-10 (1-3, 3-3, 3-4, 4-0) - women
Netherlands scorers: Sabrina van der Sloot 3, Maud Megens 2, Lieke Klaassen 2, Yasemin Smit, Amarens Genee, Nomi Stomphorst, Vivian Sevenich.

Greece scorers: Alkisti Avramidou 3, Antigoni Roumpesi 2, Triantafyllia Manolioudaki 2, Eleftheria Plevritou 2, Alexandra Asimaki.

Hungary vs. Russia 11-10 (2-1, 4-1, 3-3, 2-5) - women
Hungary scorers: Rita Keszthelyi 6, Hanna Kisteleki 2, Dora Czigany, Anna Illes, Barbara Bujka.

Russia scorers: Ekaterina Lisunova 3, Evgeniya Ivanova 2, Anastasia Simanovich 2, Ekaterina Prokefyeva, Elvina Karimova, Evgeniia Soboleva.

Spain vs. Greece 2-6 (0-2, 1-1, 1-2, 0-1) - men (quarterfinal 1)
Spain scorers: Blai Mallarach 2.

Greece scorers: Ioannis Fountoulis 3, Emmanouil Mylonakis, Konstantinos Mourikis, Angelos Vlachopoulos.

Serbia vs. Russia 15-5 (3-2, 4-1, 4-2, 4-0)  - men (quarterfinal 2)
Serbia scorers: Dusan Mandic 3, Andrija Prlainovic 3, Slobodan Nikic 2, Filip Filipovic 2, Milos Cuk, Dusko Pijetlovic, Milan Aleksic, Nikola Jaksic, Stefan Mitrovic.

Russia scorers: Lev Magomaev, Artem Odintsov, Kirill Nikolaenko, Dmitrii Kholod, Adel Giniiatov.

Tuesday, January 19:

09.30: Turkey vs. France - men (9th-16h place, match 11)
11.00: Georgia vs. Netherlands - men (9th-16th place, match 12)
12.30: Croatia vs. Germany - women
15.45: Italy vs. Spain - women
17.15: France vs. Serbia - women
18.45: Italy vs. Montenegro - men (quarterfinal 3)
20.15: Hungary vs. Croatia - men (quarterfinal 4)

Wednesday, January 20:

09.00: Malta vs. Slovakia - men (ranking 13th-16th place, match 13)
10.30: Romania vs. Germany - men (ranking 9th-12th place, match 15)
12.00: Greece vs. 1B - women (quarterfinal 4)
13.30: Netherlands vs. 4B - women (quarterfinal 1)
15.45: Hungary vs. 3B - women (quarterfinal 3)
17.15: Russia vs. 2B - women (quarterfinal 2)
18.45: Spain vs. Russia - men (ranking 5th-8th place, match 17)
20.15: Greece vs. Serbia - men (semifinal 1)

N.b.: time mentioned is local time.

Current rankings (women)

Group A (final)

1. The Netherlands 5 - 15 pts
2. Hungary 5 - 12
3. Russia 5 - 9
4. Greece 5 - 6
5. Portugal 5 - 3
6. Turkey 5 - 0

Group B

1. Spain 4 - 12 pts
2. Italy 4 - 12
3. France 4 - 6
4. Serbia 4 - 3
5. Germany 4 - 3
6. Croatia 4 - 0

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