The second day of the Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final in Chelyabinsk continued to yield surprises. They were mostly connected with Group A matches.
USA – JAPAN 13-12.After an amazing victory over Team Montenegro, Team Japan was taking on Team USA as a “giant-killer”. The players proved their reputation right – the Japanese scored the first goal in the game and even won its first period. It was not until early in the fourth quarter that the Americans managed to take the lead 11-10. The final minutes of play proved hard for the visibly tired Team Japan. However, with one and a half minutes to go, the scoreboard was showing a tie 12-12. With just 46 seconds remaining in the match, the Americans managed to score their thirteenth goal and secure a victory 13-12(3-4, 3-3, 3-3, 4-2).
HUNGARY - MONTENEGRO 18-17. The result of Montenegro vs. Hungary game can also be called an unexpected one. The Montenegrins, having a solid advantage, ended up losing in a penalty shoot-out. In the first period, they did not face any problems putting the ball into their opponent’s net. Goalkeeper substitution in the middle of the second period somewhat decreased the frequency of the Montenegrins’ goals, and in the fourth quarter the Hungarian team equalized, 10-10. The thrilling balance was kept until the final buzzer and transferred into after-match shoot-out, by no means a less tense one. In this series that lasted almost two rounds, the Hungarians’ nerves proved stronger, and they celebrated a victory with the score of 18-17 (10-10 in regulation: 1-3, 2-3, 3-2).
Group B events unfolded without intriguing scenarios. Favorites in each match won expected victories.
CHINA – BRAZIL 18-3.Team Brazil and Team China are not the tournament’s favorites, and they will hardly contend for the World League’s trophies. However, their showdown looks by no means less absorbing than the “titans’ battles”. The opening two minutes of the match were equal, but as soon as the Chinese players started shooting on goal, they could not be stopped. The Celestial Empire’s representatives kept increasing their lead with each period and finally brought it to an impressive 18-3 win.
SERBIA – RUSSIA 14-11.The Serbian squad has practically had no significant changes since the Bronze Medal Match at the London Olympic Games. So the players came to Chelyabinsk with their best roster and excellent team chemistry. The Serbs’ advantage was obvious, but it would not be fair to say that the Russian team abandoned themselves to the conqueror’s mercy without any resistance. The young team created a lot of chances on goal but failed to capitalize on both of them. Both teams came out especially strong in the end of the game with Russia’s advantage in scoring in this mini-match. However, the Serbians had already ensured a safe and comfortable lead that resulted in a confident win 14-11(3-1, 3-2, 3-2, 5-6).