Day 3 of the Men’s World League Super Final in Chelyabinsk put the teams in order in each of the groups according to the number of points earned. In Group A it was not clear until the last match who would top the standings.
MONTENEGRO – USA 9-4.
The struggle went serious from the very first minute. Close man-to-man marking and extreme concentration on the defense – no one was willing to take the risk and play an end-to-end water polo. For two periods, both teams were getting on each other’s nerves by keeping an even score on the board: the ones were scoring, the others were catching up right away. The game seemed to be heading to another shoot-out series, but in the middle of the third quarter the Montenegrins managed to “stretch” the Americans’ defense and score in three attacks in a row. The lost match segment was quite a shock for the US players, and the Montenegrins continued to increase the lead. With two and a half minutes remaining in the last quarter, they were up by five and preferred to freeze the score. 9-4 (2-2, 2-1, 3-1, 2-0), the first win that Team Montenegro needed so much.
HUNGARY – JAPAN 11-5.
The troublemakers, Team Japan, gave Team Hungary a run for their money today. Although the first period did not prove so successful for the guests from the country of the rising sun. The Hungarians limited their opponents in free space and deprived them of their main advantage – movement. The Japanese had to accept the physical play and virtually failed to make shots on goal spending too much time on fighting for position. The Hungarians snatched a 3-0 victory in the first period. After the intermission the game went on more equal terms but the Hungarians kept on pressing hard and did not let the Japanese “swim into” the game. 11-5 (3-0, 3-4, 2-1, 3-0) victory for Team Hungary brings them the first place in Group A with 6 points.
In Group B, on the contrary, everything was clear and smooth. The leader and the outsider were determined yesterday. Today, the only intrigue was about who will be placed second and third.
SERBIA – BRAZIL 16-7.
Group B winner was determined in the first game of the day. The Serbia vs. Brazil match was, probably, the easiest to predict. The subject of discussion was only the score. The Slavic team proved their advantage in terms of skill in an assuring and efficient way, looking better than the Brazilians in all lines. Four periods in a calm pace ended with a legitimate result: 16-7 (5-1, 4-1, 5-3, 2-2) and Team Serbia advances to the quarterfinals from the first place in Group B. Brazil with zero points takes the fourth.
CHINA – RUSSIA 12-11.
Second and third positions in Group B were to be determined in China vs. Russia game. By their starting period, the Russians made it clear that they were not going to step down from the runner-up position. Three goals scored after the traditionally cautious first minutes gave hope that the Russians would make it a one-way game. However, as it often happens in sports games, such impression was a deceptive one. Team China wins the second quarter 5-2. In the third, advantage swings from one team to the other. Before the last intermission, the Chinese manage to gain a one-goal lead and the Russians cannot close the gap. In the final minutes of play, the hosts set up a real onslaught on the Chinese goal, but the goalkeeper works miracles. The Russians have the last attack but it helps nothing. 11-12 (3-1, 2-5, 4-4, 2-2), a hurtful loss for Team Russia that finishes third in the group.