Medal semifinals were found in day-six action at the Olympic Swimming Pool Centre in Coimbra on Wednesday with champion Spain in the mix. The quarterfinals produced the four winners who will contest Thursday’s semifinals — Spain beat Israel 10-4; Hungary brought unbeaten New Zealand to earth 21-3; Italy downed Greece 15-11 and Netherlands fended off United States of America 17-16 in penalty shootout after the match was tied at 13-13.
Spain will play Netherlands in one semifinal and Italy will clash with Hungary in the other on Thursday.
Further down the rankings, in Group G, where teams are battling for classifications 13-19, Japan routed Chile 28-4 and Portugal had a third win, defeating India 20-4.
In Group H, Kazakhstan had the better of South Africa 8-3.
Classification 1-8 Quarterfinals
SPAIN 10 ISRAEL 4
Spain made sure of its advancement to the semifinals and a chance to retain its crown with a solid effort against a determined Israel. Spain scored two quick goals, but the match went scoreless for nearly eight minutes before Spain added to the scoreboard. Israel took a timeout and this spurred Alma Yaacobi to convert an extra-man attack followed by Noa Sasover’s conversion soon after for 3-2 at halftime. Noa Markovsky levelled the match, also on extra, early in the third period.
Four minutes later, Spain bounced out of its lethargy with Daniela Moreno twice and Claudia Moreno scoring goals to prise open the match. Yaacobi had a chance to trim the difference from the penalty line only to have the shot saved, 18 seconds from the final break.
Christina Nogue for a second and Elena Ruiz, also with her second, pumped the margin to 8-3 by 5:28 in the fourth. Yaacobi was sent for three major fouls; Noga Levinshtein converted extra for 8-4; then Daniela Moreno and Ruiz, gave themselves a third each to finalise the scoring and the result at 10-6.
Moreno and Ruiz may have scored the goals, but it was goalkeeper Mariona Terre who was named player of the match.
Keeping Israel scoreless for the first 12 and a half minutes and then going from 3-3 to 8-3.
Spain has the all-round team and tactics to carry it through to the title. Israel has plenty of senior internationals gaining more experience ahead of January’s European Championships.
HUNGARY 21 NEW ZEALAND 3
Hungary put a stop to New Zealand’s excellent run of four victories heading into the quarterfinals. The more powerful and experienced Hungarians had the benefit of two long days without a match while the Kiwis were looking a little tired. That tiredness and frustration led to a violence foul in the final quarter that had New Zealand down a player, but not out of it.
Hungary went 2-0 and 4-1 by the quarter break and in doing so, started a 20-minute famine for the Kiwis as the score rattled to 8-1 at halftime and 16-1 before New Zealand converted extra-man attack through Sammie Bentley. It was 18-2 at the final break and the final period produced 3-1 for Hungary.
Surprising, a VAR check several minutes after a potential flare-up, re-wound the clock to 4:14 as New Zealand’s Scarlett Goldsworthy was adjudged to have committed a violence foul and a penalty awarded and four minutes with a player up. The penalty was saved, although the rebound earned another penalty and Eszter Macsai converted for 20-3. The only other goal scored in the exclusion period was to Macsai from the right and the new player returned at 0:14.
Those 20 minutes when New Zealand was looking for an oasis to break the drought.
Hungary is a budding champion. To expect New Zealand to win five in a row was a huge ask. At least it made the quarterfinals and will improve vastly on its 14th place from four years ago.
GREECE 11 ITALY 15
A 7-3 third-quarter burst by Italy put paid to any hopes that Greece had of making the semifinals and competing for a medal. Other than that, it was a tight match. With Stefania Santa performing at her highest level for Greece, there was a chance of a positive outcome, but she needed more team-mates to step up to the plate.
Santa started proceedings with Italian star Sofia Giustini responding twice — from the top on extra and with a centre-forward lob. Foteini Tricha levelled from the right for Greece with two Italian goals in consecutive attacks stretching the margin to two. There was one response by quarter time. The margin went to three early in the second quarter as the score went 6-3, 6-4, 8-4, 8-5, 10-5, 10-6 and 11-6 just before halftime. Santa had two more for Greece and Paola di Maria three for Italy — two from centre forward.
Dionysia Koureta pulled one back on the first attack, but two Dafne Bettini goals and a third for Marta Giuffrida — all on extra-man attack — had Italy comfortable at 14-7 heading into the final quarter.
Santa scored her fourth and fifth for 14-9, but left the match with three major fouls at 3:30, snuffing Greece’s faint hopes. Italy went to 15-9 with Greece scoring the last two when the match was virtually over.
Santa, without a doubt. She did everything she could to get Greece into the top four. Di Maria, Bettini and Giuffrida all had three for Italy.
The second quarter.
Italy has made the top four again while Greece will have no chance to go one further than it did in Netanya, Israel two years ago when it took home silver.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 16 NETHERLANDS 17 in penalty shootout (FT: 13-13. Pens: 3-4)
United States of America was never headed in regular time and will rue not defending a last-gasp Netherlands shot that forced a shootout and victory for the Europeans. USA was 6-2 ahead in the first quarter and closed the period 6-3. By halftime, that lead had not only dwindled, but was snuffed out by the Dutch as they levelled at 8-8 one second from the buzzer.
USA regained its advantage with the Dutch levelling at 9-9, then USA shot to 11-9 with the Dutch responding for 11-10 at the final break. Jenna Flynn, fast becoming the tournament’s highest scorer, had a penalty attempt go wide right to start the final quarter. USA kept going to the lead only for Netherlands to reply with Feline Voordouw sending her name in lights to the secretary 11 seconds from the final buzzer off the right-post position on extra-man attack for 13-13.
USA began the penalty shooting with Flynn and Noa de Vries netting goals. Emily Ausmus hit the post and Aniek Roekevisch converted to give the Dutch the advantage for the first time at 15-14. Ava Stryker made it 15-15 and the next two shooters failed to convert. The last three shooters scored with senior international Lola Moolhuijzen netting the winner and her fifth for the match, giving her 11 goals for the last two matches.
Flynn, with her six goals, and Moolhuijzen with her five. Flynn went to the penalty line four times, scoring three, counting the shootout score. She now has 20 goals from four matches.
Voordouw’s equaliser. That and the earlier four-goal USA advantage being wiped.
Netherlands was sixth in 2021 while USA was sixth at its last visit in 2019. Both teams will be out to prove they can do better than those results, with the Dutch already well on the way.
JAPAN 28 CHILE 4
Japan did what was expected and ran away with this match. Japan went to 5-0 before allowing Chile in twice before the quarter-time buzzer and the score at 6-2. It was a shutout in the second as Japan swam in five goals. In the third period, it was 9-1 with Chile’s effort coming from a centre-forward backhand by Isabel del Villar. In the fourth, it was 8-1 with Antonia Puelma following up on her first-quarter goal with a backhander off a rebound at two metres. Japan used all its field players to score. Inevitably, 16 of Japan’s goals came from counter-attack.
Momoka Nishiyama topped the Japanese scoring with five with four team-mates scoring three.
The opening whistle where Japan went on the attack and eventually pulled up its 100th goal of the week.
Japan, who topped the group with three victories, was too good for Chile who the day before had gained its first win at this level — over India.
PORTUGAL 20 INDIA 4
Portugal gained a historic third victory at this tournament and consigned India to 19th place and out of the competition. Portugal revelled in the ability to score goals and had the quarter at 8-0, before being slowed down in the second quarter, turning at 10-2. Portugal won the third 3-0 and then applied the afterburners with a 7-2 final period in which Prachetha Rao scored her second and third goals for India, including the 20-4 goal at 0:19. The powerful Magdalena Lousa was again on fire for Portugal with three of her five goals coming by 5-0, setting the tone for the Portuguese attack. India had chances, but what it did best was to deny Portugal sight of the goal for many minutes in the middle half of the pool.
Lousa, with her five goals, and team-mate Joana Arromba, who also scored five. Rao can be proud of her three goals, giving her seven of 16 Indian goals in Coimbra.
That 9-0 advantage until late in the second quarter.
Portugal still has more to do at home while India will return home, review and now knows what is required to play at this level.
SOUTH AFRICA 3 KAZAKHSTAN 8
Kazakhstan won in the lowest scoring match of the day. South Africa went 1-0 up and Kazakhstan took the lead at 2-1 before Tumi Macdonell made it 2-2. Milena Nabiyeva scored her second with a lob from deep left and at 3-2, Kazakhstan was on its way. There was just the one goal in the second quarter as Viktoriya Kaplun added to her wealthy tally with a penalty strike for 4-2 by halftime.
Darya Pochinok netted twice and Nabiyeva grabbed another two on extra-man attack for 8-2 by the final break. Derryn Wedderburn converted a penalty foul for the only goal of the fourth period, showing how close these teams were. South Africa could have been much closer as it had the chances.
Nabiyeva, with her four goals, was the best in pool.
Keeping South Africa scoreless for 24 minutes.
Kazakhstan, who finished second in the group, was more accurate. Good defence meant all South Africa’s efforts were almost to nought.
Group G: Japan 9, Portugal 6, Chile 3. India 0.
Group H: France 6, Kazakhstan 3, South Africa 0.
Match 48, 10:30, Chile v South Africa
Classification 9-12 Semifinals
Match 49, 12:00, Canada v Australia
Match 50, 13:30, Croatia v Brazil
Classification 5-8 Semifinals
Match 51, 15:30, Israel v United States of America
Match 52, 17:00, New Zealand v Greece
Classification 1-4 Semifinals
Match 53, 18:30, Spain v Netherlands
Match 54, 20:00, Hungary v Italy