France and Georgia to clash for 9th place

Credit: European Aquatics

France and Georgia snatched big wins respectively over the Netherlands and Germany to set up a showdown for the 9th place in Dubrovnik. Slovakia bettered Slovenia for the 13th place while Malta and Israel staged another thriller, at the end, the Maltese grabbed the 15th place with a shootout win.

For 9-12th places: France v Netherlands 16-9, Georgia v Germany 15-10. For 13th place: Slovakia v Slovenia 14-10. For 15th place: Israel v Malta 12-12, pen: 4-5

Credit: European Aquatics

France saved some pride after bidding farewell to the top division by beating the Netherlands with a convincing performance.

The French netted four goals in each period and built a decisive gap by the middle of the third period when they took a four-goal lead and never looked back.

They will clash with Georgia for the 9th place as the Georgians delivered a big finish to down the Germans.

For three periods, it was almost the same struggle they showed throughout the first week in Zagreb and especially in the crossover game against Romania.

For three periods the Germans had better spells, late in the third they were 7-9 up and began the last quarter with an 8-9 lead in hand.

Then the Georgians ‘rediscovered’ their real game, their Serbians – Stefan Pjesivac and Dusan Vasic – delivered fine goals and other ‘assets’ in offence and shocked their rivals with a 4-0 rush.

Zoran Bozic buried a penalty for 12-10 but Revaz Imnaishvili hit one from the distance 28 seconds later and that sank the Germans.

Two more goals secured Georgia’s win, they came up really big in the fourth where they staged a 7-1 rout.

Credit: European Aquatics

As for the lower ranks, there were a smaller stir compared to Split.

Slovakia and Slovenia played for the 15th place 15 months ago, now they met for in the game for the 13th position.

The Slovaks took the upper hand, thanks to a 4-0 run after 4-4.

After that the Slovenians could halve the distance but could never come closer and three more goals after 11-9 to land their best finish since 2016.

Israel and Malta dropped to the 15-16th place match, a bit surprisingly, as Israel had taken part in the 9-12th crossovers in 2022 and Malta had played for the 13th place last time.

Credit: European Aquatics

They had already met in the first week and produced a similarly incredible match where Malta came back from four goals down and won the nailbiter amidst extraordinary circumstances.

This match wasn’t different either.

After their clash in Zagreb saw one 4min ejection for brutality apiece, here another one was called late in the second period, this time against an Israeli player Tal Fotin, however, apart from burying the ensuing penalty for 4-4, Malta was unable to use the 4-minute man-up.

Instead, Israel scored, then, at equal strength, they doubled their lead and led 7-5 at halftime.

They held it before the last quarter and there Ido Goldschmidt’s action goal gave them an 11-8 lead with 5:06 on the clock.

Six days ago, they had led 9-11 with 6 minutes to go, so the situation was a goal and a minute ‘better’ this time.

Still, it wasn’t enough to win this match either.

Malta produced another surge, a 0-4 run, the last one came 8 seconds from time, and seemed to be a winner.

However, after a timeout, Vlad Begin managed to hit one to save the match to a shootout at least.

A save in the fourth round set up Malta to win, but Darren Zammit was also denied when he had a shot to close down the contest.

Then Goldschmidt’s ball was also stopped in the sixth round and Jake Muscat sent the ball home to seal Malta’s win and the 15th place.