Great Britain and Serbia top groups after perfect starts

Credit: European Aquatics

Great Britain and Serbia both made it three wins from three to top their respective groups and maintain their 100% records ahead of Monday’s crossovers at the European Championships in Eindhoven.

Group C: Romania 9-7 Türkiye, Serbia 15-4 Czechia
Standings: 1. Serbia 9pts, 2. Czechia 6pts, Romania 3pts, 4. Türkiye 0
Group D: Slovakia 23-8 Bulgaria, Germany 6-12 Great Britain
Standings: 1. Great Britain 9pts, 2. Germany 6pts, 3. Slovakia 3pts, 4. Bulgaria 0

Great Britain celebrated topping Group D with an impressive 6-12 victory against Germany in the final game of Sunday’s morning session in Eindhoven.

After beating Slovakia (7-12) and Bulgaria (6-19), Great Britain again dominated, delivering another strong first half performance and taking a 1-6 lead.

Credit: European Aquatics

Nick Buller’s squad already had some psychological advantage over Germany, after beating them in last year’s European qualification tournament in Portugal and in the recent Danube Cup in Hungary.

But it was the first quarter stats that told a story, as Great Britain were just far more clinical, scoring three from four, while Germany struggled with one from nine.

While weathering the storm well at one end, thanks in part to goalkeeper Sophie Jackson, who was rested entirely for day two’s game, Great Britain’s attack was also delivering.  

Saint Feliu’s Toula Falvey and Ethnikos’ Lily Turner caused most of the damage, firing in four each.

Falvey has also been one of most outstanding centre forwards in the entire tournament so far, as going into the Germany game she had the competition’s highest shot/goal percentage (87.5%) for players with seven or more goals.

Credit: European Aquatics

“I thought the team really pulled together today with some essential blocks, good communication and great defence,” commented GB goalkeeper Jackson after game.

“At the start we just wanted to keep calm, take our time, and take our chances, which we did.

“It was really good to get a strong start, because I think that can sometimes dim the morale of the other team, and I thought we did that.

\”Personally, I found some good rhythm and was able to help the team, which I\’m pleased about, but more important was the team\’s performance, and I thought we all did well and we\’re now looking forward to the crossovers.”

Earlier in Group D, Slovakia confidently beat Bulgaria 23-8 to finish third.

Nela Mesterova and Monika Sedlakova top scored for Slovakia with five each as they recorded their first victory of the competition.

Slovakia and Bulgaria will both now contest the 13th-16th classification games, where they could meet again, while Great Britain and Germany will face either Israel or France in Monday’s crossovers.

In Group C, Serbia have been by far the standout team and comfortably made it three wins from three with another impressive performance on Sunday morning.

After commanding victories against Türkiye (13-6) and Romania (4-15), Serbia overpowered Czechia in their final preliminary game (15-4).

Serbia’s success has been built around their solid and stubborn defence, which after two days of play had only conceded 10 goals, the fewest out of all the teams in the tournament. 

In attack, Serbia have also been one of the best, especially with Ana Milicevic leading the line, and her 12 goals in the competition so far have been key.

Credit: European Aquatics

Against Czechia, Serbia carried on their winning momentum from the very start, racing into an early 3-1 lead after the first, then 7-1 at the turnaround.

The second half continued along the same path, with Czechia struggling to find a way through on goal, scoring just three, while Serbia fired in eight more.    

“We are very happy to get the three wins and to top the group, because that was our goal from the beginning, so we’re pleased to have achieved that,” commented Serbia’s Tijana Lukic after scoring a hat-trick in the game.

“Today, we played with real energy and showed our strengths. I thought we made some really good actions and plays throughout.

“We’re progressing with each game and I think we’re now more connected than at the start of the tournament.

“We will now go away and prepare for tomorrow’s crossover, which will probably be against Croatia.

“They are a team we know very well and we have played them often, so we’ll be ready.”

Credit: European Aquatics

In Sunday’s opening game, Romania edged Türkiye 9-7 to finish third in Group C.

Türkiye may have suffered their third straight defeat, but there have been some positives to draw from in Eindhoven, particularly the performances of Kubra Kus, who has been one of the star attackers in Division Two.

Against Romania, she added five more goals to take her tournament tally to 11, but the problem was her opponents also have a star forward, Alina-Ioana Olteanu, who fired in four to help win the game and take her overall tally to 12.

Despite Kus’ efforts, Türkiye couldn’t keep up with Romania in the end, who were just ahead at the long break (6-5).

After Romania won the third quarter 3-2, the door was still open for Türkiye, but they were unable to find the net and ultimately fell to their third successive loss.

Türkiye and Romania will now contest the 13th-16th classification games, while Serbia and Czechia will take on Croatia or Hungary in the crossovers.