Spain finally made it
Spain had a bronze then two silvers from the previous three editions and now they stroke gold after a thrilling final in Novi Sad (SRB) where they beat the Netherlands 11-10. Hungary came third winning a similarly exciting match over Greece.
The Spanish team clinched its first title since the inauguration of the new age-group events: this edition featured the best U17 players who staged some really memorable games.
The top six nations were still a class apart as it was expected, until the quarter-finals all favourites cruised with ease. There two had to fall and this time it was the Italians and the Russians who failed to reach the semis. Italy lost to Greece while the Russians blew a huge lead away against Spain. At the beginning of the third period of the QF they were 6-1 up when the Spaniards scored five connecting goals in a span of 5:50 minutes in the third and then added a sixth one early in the third. The Russians equalised twice but Spain scored the winner for 9-8 with just 0:04 remaining on the clock.
This gave a huge boost for them, they defeated the Greeks 10-7 in the semi-finals (already led 9-4 before the last period) and the Dutch thrashed the Hungarians 8-3 in the other SF.
The last day saw two brilliant matches with lots of twists and turns. In the bronze medal game Greek took a 1-4 lead by halftime and was still 3-6 ahead deep into the third when the Magyars had an amazing spell and scored three action goals within 88 seconds for 6-6. They went on rolling in the fourth, jumped to an 8-6 lead and never looked back, earning the bronze after missing the podium in the previous two editions. The Greeks had three medals beforehand, not they left Novi Sad empty-handed.
The final was a coronation of the entire tournament which was professionally organised by the experienced staff of the Serbian Water Polo Federation. The first half was dominated by the Spaniards who took a 4-6 lead late in the second. The Dutch started to find their rhythm and in the middle of the third they went 8-6 ahead. Spain broke a scoreless period lasting 6:09 minutes and just before the last quarter they managed to get back to equal terms (8-8).
The Spaniards went on for 8-9, the Dutch netted two in 44 seconds for 10-9 but the following two came from Spain again. With 3:43 to go they led 10-11 and they could save this advantage until the last moment and could celebrate their first ever triumph in this tournament.
- Great Britain
- Czech Republic