Serbia and Italy have qualified for the 2022 FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final in France, Following a day of intense contests in which three games were won by one goal and one by two goals, courtesy to a buzzer-beating 20-meter Italian goal. Hungary overcame Greece 14-13, while Serbia upset Spain 11-10, Italy blanked host Montenegro 9-7, and Croatia defeated France 13-12. On Saturday, Spain and Montenegro will compete for the bronze medal and remaining Super Final qualification berth.
14 HUNGARIAN, 13 GREEK
A three-goal, 90-second Hungarian run pulled the Hungarians from one down to two ahead, from which Greece could only get one back inside the final 40 seconds in a topsy-turvy game that saw Hungary lead for nearly 13 minutes and Greece for 11. It all came down to the final quarter.
Gergo Zalanki, who scored three goals for Hungary, capped off a counterattack from deep right to score the game-winning goal. Gergely Burian scored twice in the first quarter and added his third with the goal that tied the game at 12-12. Konstantinos Genidounias, the all-powerful player for Greece, erupted with two in the second, three in the third, and six in the fourth, including the decisive 12-11 score. This follows a pair on the first day. Three of the first four goals for Greece were scored by Konstantinos Kakaris.
Hungary took control of the game after Greece took a 2-0 lead, and by the halfway point of the second quarter, they were up 5-2. At the two-minute mark of the third quarter, Greece went on a 5-2 run to tie the game at seven. Prior to Greece regaining the lead at 9-8 and 10-9 before the end of the third quarter, Hungary had gone ahead by one. Greece maintained its lead until 12-11, but Hungary scored three straight goals by 0:40 to make the score 14-12, and Greece’s response at 0:25 was insufficient.
Hungary defeated Greece (29–32) with three less shots and better extra-man statistics (5/14) than Greece (5/16). Greece only had five turnovers compared to Hungary’s ten. Hungary won 11-8 thanks to the goalkeeper saves. Greece had two chances at penalty kicks, but only one was successful for Hungary.
Greece won the silver medal in the Olympics, while Hungary won the bronze. Three of Greece’s greatest players were absent, and it was obvious. Genidounias took advantage of his opportunity to the fullest, boosting the group to victory. The scenario is primed for success in Budapest in June, yet, like with all the teams in Podgorica, newbies are blending in well with the old-stagers.
How they spoke
Akos Konarik (HUN) is the Player of the Match
“It’s challenging. While we are in the middle of our club season, a world competition is taking place. We only have a short while to get ready as a group. Like everyone else, our team is new and young, therefore I believe it’s difficult for everyone to perform well right now. I’m thrilled we won today, and I’m hopeful we’ll win again tomorrow. We as a squad, especially in Budapest, truly want to win. I simply hope it will go as well as the two tournaments we’ve hosted here in Budapest in recent years. There will be a large crowd in the pool, and Margaret Island is usually a wonderful experience for everyone.
11 SERBIA , 10 SPAIN
When it comes to important games, Serbia is the master, and playing Spain is never easy. Serbia took a 2-0 lead, fell behind to 4-4 midway through the second quarter, but recovered to lead 6-4 at the half and 10-7 at the end of the third. At 4:29, three goals from Spain tied the game, and at 2:43, Nikola Jaksic scored the game’s winning goal after a cross pass narrowly missed his hand and fell into the net in front of goal. Even with the Spanish goalie watching intently throughout the final assault, a draw could not be achieved.
Marko Radulovic (SRB) of the Player of the Match
“I believe that defense made a difference. We had a few more blocks. Today, our goalkeeper played at a very high level. So, that was the only slight variation today. Italy is now on our minds. We came here in hopes of winning. We are always driven in the beginning. We have nothing to conceal. We seek both triumph and gold.
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