Hungary confirmed its superiority at youth men’s water polo level with a second world crown and fifth consecutive appearance on the victory dais in beating host Serbia 16-15 in a penalty shootout after the match was tied 11-11. Spain, silver medallist in 2018, came from 4-1 down to defeat Netherlands 13-11 for the bronze medal. Croatia took fifth place with a 12-10 victory over Italy and outgoing champion Greece kept Montenegro scoreless in the second half for 9-3 and seventh classification.
9. United States of America
14. New Zealand
16. South Africa
31 Lars Ten Broek (NED)
26 Daniil Krivoxijin (UZB)
20 Roland Gaszt (HUN)
20 Nikola Kojic (SRB)
20 Shakhzod Turgunov (UZB)
19 Fabiano Gomes (BRA)
18 Andreas Almyras (GRE)
18 Ryder Dodd (USA)
18 Akos Nagy (HUN)
18 Vlaho Pavlic (CRO)
Best Goalkeeper: Viktor Gyapjas (HUN)
Most Valuable Player: Nikola Kojic (SRB)
Highest Goal-Scorer: Lars Ten Broek (NED) 31
Photos courtesy of Sandic Photography
HUNGARY 16 SERBIA 15 in penalty shootout (FT: 11-11. Pens: 5-4)
Hungary held all the cards and played them well, leading the breaks 4-2, 5-4 and 8-6 before allowing Serbia to level four times in the final quarter and force a penalty shootout. It was a thrilling match with the dominance of Hungary shining through with only one blemish — when Serbia levelled at six. It was at 8-8 that Serbia came back at Hungary and again at nine, 10 and 11. There never seemed any fear that Hungary would lose, but shootouts are almost lotteries and most coaches would say that they should not have arrived at that situation. The shootout favoured Hungary, scoring all five and having Serbia’s Petar Stanic shoot into the goalkeeper’s charging body on the fourth rotation. All the Serbian heckling could not stop Hungary finishing with a perfect shootout sheet and claim its second gold medal. This is the nursery of any country’s hopes and aspirations and by visiting the podium in every edition, Hungary proved its future is assured and these youngsters will possibly be able to add their names to the marbled walls of Margaret Island. They say the extra-man statistics are crucial. Serbia converted eight from 12 while Hungary relied on field goals, only converting three from five. Serbia could think it was cheated as it stole nine balls to Hungary’s three. In this case, statistics do lie. Serbia adds a silver to its 2012 bronze and went two better than four years ago. Hungary now has two gold, one silver and two bronzes from this event, one of the latter from 2018.
There were so many Hungarian heroes with Akos Nagy scoring four goals; Roland Gaszt another three for 20 overall and let’s not forget the star goalkeeper of the tournament, Viktor Gyapjas, who made 11 match-winning saves. And what about Lorand Csite, the No 13 Hungarian who stopped the penalty shot in the shootout, that led to victory? On the other side of the ledger, Aleksandar Kovacevic nailed four from five and the tournament’s best player, Nikola Kojic, managed just three from 10 to see him third equal of the scoring ladder with 20 goals.
SPAIN 13 NETHERLANDS 11
This was the match that Netherlands lost. This was the match that Spain, against all odds, won. What a magnificent finish to a tournament for these two teams. The match looked over at 5-1 in the second quarter as the Spaniards seemed to be out sipping coffees. Once the final cup was drunk, Spain started the comeback, bringing it to within one at the halftime break (6-5). Three unanswered goals had Spain in the lead for the first time. Then the Dutch struck back with three of their own for 9-8. Spain levelled just before the final break. Netherlands went ahead twice in the final quarter for 11-10. Spain levelled on penalty, went ahead through Robert Lopez at the end of possession time with his fifth goal, cross-caging the ball at 1:07. The Dutch gained an extra-man play and Lars Ten Broek, looking for his sixth goal, shot, hit the left upright and bounced back into his hand. He passed to the left and the shot bounced into the crossbar. Spain snaffled the ball, went on counter and scored with nine seconds left to win the bronze medal to go with the silvers from 2014 and 2018. The Dutch go home with heads held high and a fourth placing from its first visit.
Lopez sent in five goals from nine attempts, surging his team to victory and gaining player of the match, lifting his tournament tally to 15. Hugo Castro, with two goals today, finished top of the Spanish scorers with 17. Netherlands’ Ten Broek was his usual dynamic self with five goals from seven shots and a tournament high 31 goals at an average of 3.9 per match. The Dutch led the extra-man figures with seven from 16 and Spain converted four from 14.
ITALY 10 CROATIA 12
Croatia outlasted Italy with two goals in the final minutes. The decisions gave Croatia the luxury of an unimpeachable position. The first was a turnover at the start of an Italian attack, stranding two Croatian players in front of goal, toying with the goalkeeper and scoring for 11-9. Italy converted extra at 0:40 and then Croatia gained a penalty foul wide right, which the Italian coach vehemently protested. It was a tough finish for Italy who led 1-0, 2-1, came back from 3-2 down to close the first period 4-3 up. Italy went 5-3 and 6-5 before conceding an extra-man goal for 6-6 at halftime. It went 7-6 up at the start of the third before Croatia lit up and went to 9-7 and 10-8 by the final break. Italy pulled one back on extra at the top of the fourth, only for Croatia to grab the opportunities for victory. The success could be put down to Croatia’s better extra-man count — eight from 17 while Italy converted only four from 14 chances.
Croatian goalkeeper Ivan Cubranic was named best in water with a superb 13 saves. Constant best performers Toni Radan and Patrik Kolak scored three goals each for Croatia. Vlaho Pavlic, with two goals today, finished the tournament with 18 goals. Four Italians scored a pair each. Alessandro Gulotta, twice on the scoresheet today, topped Italy’s scoring with 16 goals.
What he said
Ivan Cubranic (CRO) — Player of the Match
“We were a little weak in the first half, but we scored goals easily, so that was helpful. In the other half we managed to receive the smallest amount of goals as possible, which was deciding for our win. It can always be better, but when we consider that we only had two weeks of preparation for this tournament, I think we did a very good job.”
GREECE 9 MONTENEGRO 3
Greece, the reigning champion, bowed out with seventh position after a torrid tournament. It was sixth in 2016, did not front in 2014 and was fifth at the inaugural event in 2012, so Belgrade was not a good showing. Previous efforts were fifth and sixth, so this is the lowest of the four participations. The match was tight as the 1-0 first quarter showed and Montenegro had the halftime lead at 3-2. A 4-0 third quarter and a 3-0 final quarter for Greece meant Montenegro did not score for 17 and a half minutes. Montenegro was seventh in 2018 after claiming the silver medal in 2016 and fifth in 2014. Neither team gained an ascendancy in the six-on-five count with Greece converting two from nine and Montenegro two from eight. All in all, it was a remarkable match with the shutout second half.
Theodorous Damigos (GRE) picked up another player-of-the-match award with eight saves in the low-scoring match. Konstantinos Mathiopoulos scored twice as seven others made the sheet. Montenegro’s Milan Nikaljevic scored twice. Andreas Almyras — one goal today — topped the scoring for Greece with 18 goals. Nedo Bastrica was scoreless today, but finished the best of the Montenegrin scorers with 17 goals.
What they said
Ali Salech (GRE) – Goal Scorer
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the end we expected in this tournament, but as for the win in the end is the best we could have, so we are happy with it. I am satisfied with my team-mates for all the effort, how they handled our losing in the quarter-finals.”
Nikolaos Kastrinakis (GRE) — Goal Scorer
“We are happy that we won; could have done way better throughout the tournament, but at least we got the win. That’s the end of this whole tournament and it’s probably the last time we play together, so it’s kind of sad.”