Spain’s women won their second title today at the 2020 European Water Polo Championships. The event also doubled as an Olympic qualification event where the highest ranked eligible nation qualified to the games. Overall, twelve nations competed in two groups of six with the top four advancing to the quarter-finals. The European Water Polo Championships is currently being held in Budapest, Hungary from January 12th to January 26th 2020.
Group A saw the three top nations; Greece, Hungary and Russia demonstrate they were on another level against their competition with large victories during the first two matches. As they went against each other we saw Hungary top the group thanks to back to back victories over Russia (9-8) and Greece (13-10). Russia took second place over Greece thanks to a 12-7 come back victory where they were down 3-1 after the first quarter during the final set of matches of the group. Fourth place went to Slovakia who was competing at their second ever European Championships thanks to victories of Serbia (6-2) and Croatia (9-7).
Group B came down to the defending European Champions Netherlands and World Championship silver medalist Spain going into the final game of the group. The Netherlands showed why they were European Champions as the took a 6-1 over Spain by half-time on route to winning the match 10-6. Also advancing to the quarter-finals were Italy and France while Israel and Germany were eliminated.
No seeding upsets occurred during the quarter-finals with the Netherlands and Hungary scoring easy wins over Slovakia (22-2) and France (16-3) respectively. A strong second half allowed Russia to put some distance over Italy where they won the match 13-7 as did Spain in their 12-9 victory over Greece.
The two semi-finals were close affairs. The Russia/Netherlands match was a low scoring match which ended in a 7-7 draw. In the ensuing penalty shoot-out it was Russia who prevailed 4-3. The other match saw Spain hold a four goal lead during the fourth quarter. Hungary attempted a comeback, but simply ran out of time as Spain won the match 11-10. As Spain already qualified to the Olympics Russia is now guaranteed a spot, regardless of the final’s result.
The final saw multiple lead changes. Going into the fourth quarter the two nations were tied 10-10. Spain would score the next three goals and while Russia attempted to comeback Spain managed to hold on to win the title 13-12. The bronze medal was won by Hungary who defeated the Netherlands 10-8.
Non-qualified teams will have one more opportunity to qualify to the Olympics via the World Olympic Qualification Tournament to be held in March.