Maltese youngsters to face Greece in Last 16
The Malta U-19 waterpolo national team were made to pay for their poor scoring rate from man-up sets when they fell to an agonising 8-7 defeat to the Netherlands at the European Championships in Podgorica.
It was a disappointing outcome to a match that had seen the Maltese youngsters holding the edge over their opponents in the opening part.
But their failure to make the most of their numerical advantage situation, which saw the team convert just two from eight man-up situations made all the difference in the end as the Dutch held on for the win that enabled them to finish second in the group behind leaders Spain.
Malta finished third in the group and today will face Greece in the Last 16 tie.
Malta were off to a positive take-off as they managed to dominate proceedings for long stretches in the opening session.
Alec Fenech showed great precision with his shooting as he struck the target twice to put his team 2-0 ahead.
The Dutch managed to pull a goal back through Lars Ten Broek, but the Maltese quickly restored their control as Matthew Mifsud struck from a man-up set before Gialanze converted a penalty to make it 4-1.
Ten Broek’s goal at the death moved the Dutch team just two goals behind at the end of the first session.
In the second quarter, the Dutch stepped up their game as goals from Marmick Snel, Ten Broek and Jimmy Sjardijn pulled them level at five-all when ends were changed with Mifsud netting Malta’s goal.
In the third session there was little separating either side as both the Maltese and the Dutch players were showing signs of profligacy in front of goal.
Jayden Cutajar struck the session’s first goal midway through to put Malta 6-5 ahead as the tension was starting to brewing in the Podgorica pool.
The Maltese failed to make the most of two open scoring opportunities and the Dutch quickly punished them as goals from Snel and Ten Broek put them 7-6 ahead.
Malta started the final session brightly and a thunderous drive from Mifsud pulled them level.
However, Mart Van Der Weijden soon restored the Dutch team’s lead.
In the final minute, the Maltese had two huge chances to salvage the match when they found themselves with a player more, but they failed to beat goalkeeper Sander Berkenbosch as the Dutch held on for the win.
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