Germany needed a shootout to oust Romania
Germany needed a miraculous comeback and a shootout win to overcome Romania in the second leg of the women’s qualification play-offs of the 2020 European Water Polo Championships. The other five duels didn’t bring any upset, Slovakia confirmed its first ever appearance on the big stage next January in Budapest.
Women’s qualifications, 2nd leg
Germany v Romania 14-11 (pen: 4-2 – aggregate: 27-25), Switzerland v Israel 10-16 (agg: 16-29), Croatia v Portugal 8-5 (agg: 22-18), Turkey v Slovakia 9-16 (agg: 18-35), Serbia v Czech Republic 19-8 (agg: 44-14), Ukraine v France 6-13 (agg: 7-33).
There was only one period remaining and Germany seemed to be on the brink of elimination as Romania led 5-7 and by three goals in aggregate. However, the hosts’ fighting spirit brought them back to the match: they managed to go even for the first time in this game at 7-7, with 2:57 to go. The Romanians could retake the lead once more but two goals in 47 seconds put the Germans ahead.
Still, 22 seconds later, at 1:11, Romania equalised and that would have sent them through but Jennifer Stiefel scored from action for 10-9 with 16 seconds remaining from the game so the penalties determined the outcome. Though Steifel was the first one who missed her shot in shootout, the other four Germans all buried their respective penalties while the Romanians missed their last two so they need to wait for their first ever European Championship game for at least two more years.
On the contrary, Slovakia has made it to Budapest – though that was already secured in the first leg when they beat Turkey by ten goals. The second leg was also a one-sided contest – after the thrills in the 2018 qualifications this time the Slovaks were way better than their rivals.
Serbia, France and Israel also earned double victories and their winning margins were substantial too. Only Croatia had to go through some tougher moments against Portugal. After winning away by a single goal two weeks ago they also needed to work hard to keep the lead at home but some fine defending secured their 2020 berth.
Thus both tournaments’ fields are complete and there is no more question-mark in the women’s draw having also been conducted last Tuesday in Budapest. Here are the groups – the schedule of the games is to be announced in early November.
2020 European Water Polo Championships, Budapest
Group A: Greece, Hungary, Russia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia
Group B: Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Israel, France, Germany
Group A: Croatia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Germany
Group B: Serbia, Russia, Romania, Netherlands
Group C: Spain, Hungary, Turkey, Malta
Group D: Italy, Greece, Georgia, France