In other matches played on Thursday, United States of America defeated Israel 18-2 and Greece dispensed with New Zealand 17-4 in the classification 5-8 semifinals.

In the classification 9-12 semifinals, Australia brushed aside Canada 16-8 and Brazil nudged out Croatia 15-14.

In the play-off for 17th position, South Africa romped home 17-3 over Chile, thus gaining its first victory in Coimbra.

Match Reports

Classification 1-4 Semifinals


Image Source: Luís Filipe Nunes/World Aquatics

Spain punched in a fifth straight victory en route to the final where it hopes to emulate the 2021 team and win gold. Netherlands had no answer despite its star players. Spanish defence and outside shooting proved unbeatable. From 2-0, Spain went 4-1 in the first quarter and stretched to 8-1 before Netherlands could again make the scoresheet. With six seconds remaining, senior international sensation Elena Ruiz grabbed her third goal from the penalty line, her second such strike of the match. It brought her to nine penalty goals from 10 attempts in Coimbra and 17 goals overall from the five matches.

The next two periods were much the same as the first two with Spain going 3-1 and 2-1.

Match Heroes:
Daniela Moreno, who had three of the first five Spanish goals, went on to score a fourth to close the match and earn player-of-the-match kudos, giving her 13 goals for the week.

Turning Point:
The six-goal blast from 2-1 to 8-1 that nullified anything Netherlands could do.

Bottom Line:
Spain will be hard to topple while the Dutch have to regroup for the bronze-medal encounter. Netherlands has lost any chance of emulating its senior team, which toppled Spain for the elite world championship gold medal in Fukuoka in July.


Image Source: Luís Filipe Nunes/World Aquatics

Hungary was out for revenge after the first-day, 14-13 shootout loss to Italy. Hungary was never equalled, going from 3-0 to 3-1 at the first break, made it a wonderful 6-3 by halftime and maintained the margin at three by the final break, despite Italy coming back to 7-6 down. Italy pounded in two more for 9-8 with Hungary responding at 4:56 and Italy sending in the last goal through Dafne Bettini — for her fifth — at 2:07. Both teams went to timeouts to no avail and Hungary had the gold-medal-final berth.


Match Heroes:
The award went to Hungarian goalkeeper Boglarka Veszmely, who was instrumental in the victory. Kata Hajdu scored three for Hungary and Bettini’s five lifts her to 18 for the tournament.

Turning Point:
The 3-0 start.

Bottom Line:
Hungary controlled the match and deserved the victory. Italy scored three extra-man goals to one while Hungary converted two penalties.

Classification 5-8 Semifinals


Image Source: Luís Filipe Nunes/World Aquatics

United States of America was on song and with a 12-0 start, left very little openings for Israel. It was a procession for USA, who probably had sights firmly set on the medal semifinals, although the 10-8 loss to Hungary and 17-16 shootout loss to Netherlands proved what a fine line it is in the  top echelon. USA beat Israel 21-7 on day one and closed the gaps that appeared on that day, limiting Israeli chances.

Emily Ausmus started with two big shots and Ava Stryker converted extra-man attack in the first quarter with Julia Bonaguidi missing a penalty attempt. Six more USA players made the scoresheet in the second quarter for 9-0. In the third, USA went to 13-1 with Noa Levinshtein putting in Israel’s first goal. Stryker shot twice more as USA took the fourth 5-1 with the final goal coming from Israel’s Alma Yaacobi with her 14th goal of the tournament.

Match Heroes:
Stryker took out the top prize as she and Ausmus collected three goals each. Anna Marie Pearson scored twice for USA, both times shunting in the rebound from two metres off rebounds.

Turning Point:
When you go 12-0 until midway through the third quarter, there 

Image Source: Luís Filipe Nunes/World Aquatics

be no other turning point.

Bottom Line:
USA picked up its third win and will be gunning for fifth place against Greece on Friday.


Greece also gained its third win, with a meticulous display against the Kiwis who now have a 4-2 record. There was nothing in it for the first seven minutes and the dam wall broke at 0:27 when Evdokia Tsimari blasted in from the left. Lauren Batchelor responded with three seconds on the clock, lunging on to her rebounded shot to score. It was to be New Zealand’s last goal for 11 minutes as Greece extended the score to 9-1, closing the half at 11-1.

Tsimara fired in two more — from 10m and 8m — and Dionysia Koureta plundered two goals at centre forward to go with the pair that started the second quarter.

Koureta did the same to start the fourth period, turning with ease to score at two metres. Her sixth goal came with the same method, this time on extra to close all scoring at 0:21.

Match Heroes:
Koureta, with six goals, proved unstoppable, doubling her contribution in Coimbra. Christina Siouti collected three.

Turning Point:
Greece broke New Zealand’s back in that first quarter and then steamrolled its way through the rest of the match.

Bottom Line:
Greece will have a tough encounter with USA for fifth and the Kiwis have a chance for a fifth win when taking on Israel for seventh position. 

Classification 9-12 Semifinals


Image Source: Luís Filipe Nunes/World Aquatics

Australia rebounded from its 13-10 loss to Israel and gained a fourth victory, bludgeoning Canada 6-0 in the opening quarter, which proved the difference in the two teams. Ali Burlock scored Canada’s first goal with Australia going to 9-1 and shutting up shop at 11-3 before the big turn. The next two periods were even for 13-5 and 16-8.

Sienna Green, who has tasted senior international water polo, scored three consecutive goals in the first quarter, twice from the penalty line. She scored the last two in the third period and snared the 14-7 goal after a rebound fell her way.

Match Heroes:
Green, with her huge tally, which gives her 16 for the event. Nioka Thomas scored three with two from centre forward, also for 16. Raha Peiravani netted twice for Canada.

Turning Point:
The first quarter set the scene for Canada’s destruction.

Bottom Line:
Australia now gets a crack at ninth position and Canada 11th. In 2021, Australia beat Canada for ninth ranking.


Image Source: Luís Filipe Nunes/World Aquatics

This was probably the most thrilling match of the day with ample ties. In fact, it was tied at one, six, seven, eight, nine, 12 and 14. Croatia was never headed until the last 21 seconds of the second quarter when Brazil came back from 4-3 down at the quarter to go into the long break at 8-7. Croatia regained the lead at 10-9 by 5:36 of the third and went to 2-10 before taking the last break with a 12-11 advantage. Brazil levelled early in the fourth quarter before Magdalena Butic and Jelena Butic gave Croatia another two-goal margin.

At 3:37, Leticia Lorieta went on counter for Brazil. After a timeout, Brazil converted extra-man attack through the ever-reliable Luana Bonetti with a near-post pass to the right-post position on extra for 14-14. At 1:03, Stefany Azevedo converted extra from the right side and Brazil had the lead. Croatia hit the bar twice on its second-last attack and could not get a shot away on its last because of the press defence, giving the match to Brazil.

Match Heroes:
Bonetti was sublime with seven goals, taking her to 12 for the week. She scored twice in the first quarter, including a penalty goal; two extra-man goals in the second; a centre-forward strike and one from the right in the third and the last-quarter 14-14 equaliser. Jelena Butic was equally successful for Croatia with seven, including three by 5-2 and a triple in the third. She now has 17 goals.

Turning Point:
Brazil grabbing the 8-7 lead and retaking it at 15-14.

Bottom Line:
Brazil will try and equal the Netanya feat of two years ago when it finished ninth and  Croatia has already gone better than its only other appearance — 16th in Volos, Greece in 2017.

Classification 17-18


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South Africa joins the list of winners in Coimbra with a final effort that reaped plenty of goals. Chile also departs as a winner with its 14-2 win over 19th-placed India. South Africa went 5-0 and closed the first period 6-1, turning at 9-2 and heading into the final quarter with a handsome 13-2 advantage. A 4-1 final quarter closed out the match and their sporting activity in Coimbra. South Africa won the penalty count with three goals to one, although it did miss one.

Match Heroes:
Madison Haworth, with four goals, was best in pool while team-mates Esihle Zondo, Skye Murray and Jaime van den Bosch netted three apiece. Barbara Gutierrez, so willing for Chile throughout the tournament, scored twice.

Turning Point:
The 5-0 start in five minutes had the match firmly in South Africa’s grasp.

Bottom Line:
Both teams worked hard and South Africa, who finished 14th in 2021 will be heading home to work on various aspects. Chile, playing its first tournament, will be heartened by the experience.

Friday Schedule

Classification 15-16
Match 55, 09:00, Portugal v Kazakhstan

Classification 13-14
Match 56, 10:30, Japan France

Classification 11-12
Match 57, 12:00, Canada v Croatia

Classification 9-10
Match 58, 13:30, Australia v Brazil

Classification 7-8
Match 59, 15:30, Israel v New Zealand

Classification 5-6
Match 60, 17:00, United States of America v Greece

Classification 3-4
Match 61, 18:30, Netherlands v Italy

Classification 1-2
Match 62, 20:00, Spain v Hungary