WL Super Final: Day 3
June 15, 2012 Leave a comment
AUSTRALIA 7 : 8 SPAIN
Australia started the match well and was leading by the middle of the second quarter 4:1. Sam McGregor and Aidan Roach’s good goals from the perimeter were followed by two more from Thomas Whalan’s sophisticated look-away shot concluding a counter-attack and Jamie Beardsworth’s skilful centre-forward back-hand goal.
But when it looked like it was not their day, the Spanish turned the tide and showed that they are still a class team by scoring five unanswered goals in a row to finish the third period 4:6 in their favour. In the final quarter, Australia reduced the deficit twice thanks to the goals by Thomas Whalan (2) and Richard Campbell (1) to one goal difference 5:6 and 6:7, but the Spaniards preserved their lead winning the match 7:8. Their goal scorers were Marc Minguell (3), Albert Español (2), Blai Mallarach, Javier Garcia and Felipe Perrone.
Australia’s experienced centre-forward, Gavin Woods, played his first match at the WL Finals having recovered from the facial injury he sustained prior to this event. Spain’s CF, Ivan Perez, played 2 minutes in the first quarter. When he got back in the water in the second half of the fourth period he was able to earn an exclusion and penalty for Spain thus contributing to his team’s final result.
One of Australia’s problems in the match was poor extra-man conversion. Nevertheless, in my opinion, Australia demonstrated that it is capable of matching the Spanish team at the Olympic games in London.
Spain came second in group ‘B’ and will be playing against Kazakhstan in a quarter-final match whilst Australia will be playing against the USA.
X-man: Australia 5/0 (0%), Spain 9/3 (33%)
Penalty: Australia 1/1, Spain 1/1
Referees: Sadekov and Moller
– Thomas Whalan, Australia:
This is a problem we can fix however it was disappointing with a great opportunity to go up against Spain.
ITALY 7 : 5 USA
In addition to the heavy training regimes during this tournament to prepare for the upcoming Olympiad, it was a very physical game with a relatively low scoreline. One could see that the players of both teams were not as fresh as they could have been otherwise. But being world class teams they had a very different – higher – level of intensity to the previous games when they played weaker opponents.
Having played ‘lazily’ against China and Kazakhstan in the previous days, the Italians looked much more like the current world champions. They won the game by better utilizing their opportunities in attack and stricter defensive actions, particularly in man-down situations. But it was the game changing one-on-one counter-attack goals by Alex Giorgetti, Christian Presciutti and Deni Florentini that turned out decisive in their win.
Italy came first in its group and will be playing Brazil in a quarter-final match on Day 4.
X-man: Italy 8/3 (38%), USA 7/1 (14%)
Penalty: Italy 1/0 USA 0
Referees: Flahive and Peris
– Adam Wright, USA:
We cannot allow easy goals especially when playing the World Champions. In the 2nd qtr we allowed 2 1-0 counter attack goals in less than 1 minute. We cannot expect to win a game when we give free goals away. Also we had plenty of chances as the game went on including the 4qtr where we did not take advantage of our 6×5 opportunities. We must convert on those chances if we want to win the game.
CHINA 13 (8) : (8) 12 KAZAKHSTAN
Both teams had shown impressive water polo in the previous matches when they played against higher ranked opponents. China nearly caused upsets in the matches against Italy and the USA. Kazakhstan drew with Italy during the main time only to lose in the after-match penalty shoot-out.
The question was how they would go against each other. The game turned out to be a tough affair. The hosts looked slower than their counterparts. (The average age of Kazakhstan’s team is 29 years old and China’s – 26). The main conclusion that I drew from what I have seen is that coach, Ricardo Azevedo, definitely has made a positive difference to the Chinese team. They are playing more ‘literate’ water polo and because of this Kazakhstan’s conversion of their opportunities were minimal due to competent actions by China.
The match finished in a draw in ordinary time. China won the after-match penalty shoot-out.
X-man: China 10/3 (30%), Kazakhstan 12/1 (8%)
Penalty: China 1/1, Kazakhstan 2/2
After-match penalty shoot-out: China 5/5, Kazakhstan 5/4
Referees: Fernandez and Koganov
CROATIA 20 : 3 BRAZIL
The quarter-final matches will be: USA v AUSTRALIA, KAZAKHSTAN v SPAIN, ITALY v BRAZIL, CROATIA v CHINA