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Hungary and Croatia will play in the final game of the 2nd FINA/LEN Europa Cup for men at the “Mladost pool” in Zagreb tomorrow.

Today in the semifinals, Hungary posted a narrow win over Italy (12:11), while Croatia defeated Spain in the rematch of the 2018 Europa Cup final (12:9). In the semifinals for places 5 – 8 Montenegro was better than Russia (15:9), Serbia beat Greece (14:10).

Schedule for Sunday

Final: Hungary – Croatia
For bronze: Italy – Spain
For the 5th place: Serbia – Montenegro
For the 7th place: Greece – Russia

The 2nd FINA/LEN Europa Cup is also the qualification tournament for the FINA World League Super Final, which will take place in Belgrade (June 18 – 23). The European teams at the Super Final will be Serbia, as a host, Hungary, Croatia, and a winner of the match for the bronze medal at the tournament in Zagreb (Italy or Spain).

Semifinals for places 1 – 4

Hungary – Italy

Hungary booked the ticket for the final game and for the World League Super Final, by defeating Italy in a very thrilling encounter. Italy was a favorite as it beat Hungary convincingly in two important games last season (10:5 in the Europa Cup and 12:5 at the European Championships).

Italy controlled the play and the results for more than two quarters. The Italians had an 8:6 lead early in the third period. Hungary managed to come back. A captain Denes Varga played a leading role. He netted for 7:8, while he put away a 6 on 4 to equalize (8:8) in the middle of the period. Italy took a new lead with a goal from Iodice (9:8). But, the Hungarians scored two goals in the last 23 seconds of the third quarter (Nemet from an extra and Varga from a penalty) to earn a lead before the 4th period (10:9).

Varga completed his team’s a 5:1 rush and Hungary went 11:9 up in the 28th minute. The „Settebello“ responded with two goals and equalized (11:11) 1:46 before the final buzzer. Krisztian Manhercz decided everything. He found the net with 58 seconds to go for the final score – 12:11.

The best scorers with 4 goals each were Denes Varga and Italy’s Francesco di Fulvio.

Croatia – Spain

Last year, in the final game of the 1st LEN Europa Cup (played in Rijeka) Croatia defeated Spain (12:9). Today’s semifinal match between these two teams produced exactly the same outcome. Croatia defeated Spain 12:9, thanks to a 3:0 rush in the finish of the game. The hosts will try to defend the trophy tomorrow in the final against Hungary.

The Spaniards grabbed an early 2:0 lead, but the hosts turned around an opening deficit to a 4:3 lead after the 1st quarter. The Croats went 5:3 up deep into the second period, but the Spaniards equalized by halftime (5:5).

The third period was a neck-and-neck race. Both sides scored 3 goals each. The home team took a lead three times, but the Spaniards managed to equalize soon after each Croatia’s goal. Before the last period, it stood 8:8.

Jokovic hit the back of the net in the Croats’ first possession in the fourth quarter (9:8), Granados back the terms on equal (9:9) 40 seconds later.

Everything was decided in the last 180 seconds. Jokovic scored his 2nd goal this evening for 10:9 three minutes from the end. The Spaniards missed from a 6 on 5 situation in the next attack. Croatia launched the fast counter-attack. Fatovic earned a penalty shot, which he converted to an 11:9 lead. Spain players didn’t find the net in their next possession, while Fatovic scored from an extra for the final score – 12:9 with 01:29 remaining on the clock. Fatovic was the best scorer of the match (3 goals)

Semifinals for places 5 – 8

Montenegro – Russia

Montenegro beat Russia by 6 goals (15:9). The first quarter was pretty balanced. It was 3:3 in the 5th minute. The following 12 minutes proved crucial in the Montenegrins’ win, as they scored 6 goals, while they conceded just one, and went 9:4 up a minute and 22 seconds before the end of the 3rd quarter. The Russians weren’t able to recover after that. Montenegro, boosted by its captain Aleksandar Ivovic (4 goals) controlled everything and secured the appearance in the match for the 5th place.

Serbia – Greece

The second semifinal match for the rankings for places 5 – 8 offered completely different storyline. Serbia recorded a convincing win, but the European and the Olympic champions needed a lot of time to break the Greeks. The teams fought a big battle in the first half. The Greeks were in front for most of the time. They had an 8:7 advantage in the last minute of the second period, but two seconds before the end of the quarter, Filip Filipovic buried a man-up, so the teams were tied at halftime (8:8).

Serbia took the lead in the 3rd quarter and entered the last eight minutes with a 2-goal advantage (11:9). Greece came close once more (10:11) in the 27th minute. The Serbs, eventually, secured the win with three goals in a row in the last 2:44 minutes (14:10). The man of the match was Serbia’s captain Filip Filipovic, who found the net four times.

2nd FINA/LEN Europa Cup, semifinal day

Places 1 – 4

Hungary 12:11 Italy
(3:4, 3:3, 4:2, 2:2)

Hungary: Varga 4, Vamos 2, Manhercz, Nemet, Sedlmayer, Kovacs, Jansik, Pohl.
Italy: Di Fulvio 4, Renzuto Iodice 2, Bodegas 2, Figlioli , Echenique, Aicardi.

Spain 9:12 Croatia
(3:4, 2:1, 3:3, 1:4)

Spain: Perrone 2, Munarriz 2, Barroso 2, Granados, De Toro, Bustos Sanchez.
Croatia: Fatovic 3, Loncar 2, Jokovic 2, Vukicevic 2, Buslje 2, Garcia.

Places 5 – 8

Montenegro 15:9 Russia
(4:3, 2:1, 3:2, 6:3)

Montenegro: Ivovic 4, M. Petkovic 3, Dr. Brguljan 2, Janovic 2, Murisic 2,Djurdjic.
Russia: Nagaev 3, Lisunov 2, Shepelev 2, Bychkov, Kholod.

Serbia 14:10 Greece
(3:4, 5:4, 3:1, 3:1)

Serbia: Filipovic 4, Pijetlovic 3, Aleksic 2, Mandic, Lazic, Jaksic, Prlainovic, S. Rasovic.
Greece: Kapotsis 3, Gounas 3, Argyropoulos 2, Fountoulis, Dervisis.

Results and schedule

Day 1 (Quarterfinals)

Hungary – Montenegro 11:7 (4:2, 2:3, 1:1, 4:1)
Spain – Serbia 13:12 (5:4, 3:1, 3:4, 2:3)
Italy – Russia 11:9 (3:3, 3:2, 1:3, 4:1)
Greece – Croatia 11:13 (2:1, 4:5, 1:4, 4:3)

Day 2 (Semifinals)

Places 5 – 8

Montenegro – Russia 15:9 (4:3, 2:1, 3:2, 6:3)
Serbia – Greece 14:10 (3:4, 5:4, 3:1, 3:1)

Places 1 – 4
Hungary – Italy 12:11 (3:4, 3:3, 4:2, 2:2)
Spain – Croatia 9:12 (3:4, 2:1, 3:3, 1:4)

Day 3 (April 7th)

7th-8th place: Russia – Greece (15)
5th-6th place: Montenegro – Serbia (16.45)
Bronze medal match: Italy – Spain (18.30)
Final: Hungary – Croatia (20.15)

DRAW FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

The draw for the water polo tournament at the 8th FINA World Championships 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea (July, 14 – 27) will be held in Zagreb tomorrow, before the matches for the final rankings at the FINA/LEN Europa Cup.

32 teams (16 men, 16 women) will take part in the men’ and women’ tournaments.

MEN

Line 1 – Australia, Hungary, Germany, Serbia.
Line 2 – Croatia, Montenegro, Spain, Brazil.
Line 3 – Greece, USA, Italy, New Zealand.
Line 4 – South Africa, Kazakhstan, Japan, South Korea.

WOMEN

Line 1: USA, Russia, Spain, Australia
Line 2: Netherlands, China, Greece, Canada
Line 3: Cuba, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand
Line 4: Kazakhstan, South Korea, Japan, South Africa.

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