Ádám Nagy (R) and American Hannes Daube during the match in Fukuoka.
Hungary’s men’s water polo team, led by Gergő Zalánki, who scored six goals, won 13-12 against the US team in the quarter-finals of the World Olympic Qualifying Championships in Fukuoka on Tuesday, thus reaching the last four.
They will face the winner of the clash between defending champions Spain and France on Thursday. The semi-final match is also an Olympic qualifier, as the two finalists from the World Championships will secure their place at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
The two teams last met three weeks ago in the bronze medal match of the World Cup Super Final in Los Angeles. The Hungarians won “first” after five penalties, but the final 4:24 minutes were replayed two hours later after the home team protested that the referees had let the Hungarian player back in too soon after an infringement, and the Americans went on to take third place.
The Hungarians took the lead in the match – watched from the stands by Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó – with Erik Molnár collecting the rebound and slotting the ball into the net.
Toni Német Toni (Front) and American Johnny Hooper. Photo: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd
The Americans, still trailing, started the third period with a lucky goal, and half a minute later they celebrated an equalizer after Dylan Woodhead’s bomb, this time with the same score. Zalánki broke the deadlock with his fourth goal, the opponents could have equalized from five minutes, but Vogel saved Daube’s shot. Soon after, the Hungarian goalkeeper had to face another penalty, but Max Irving could not outwit him. Up front, Zalánki was again on the brilliant side, his short corner shot going just wide of the post. The Hungarian star was unstoppable, and with another left-handed bomb he restored the biggest three-goal difference (10-7).
Photo: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd
The final eight minutes started with another American five-pointer, but Vogel stunned Daube, who shot over the top bar, while on the other end, Ádám Nagy came in and found the net. Rival Irving closed the gap with a goal, but the German wrestled his way in from the center and his shot sailed over the imaginary goal-line. Bowen swam over for another American penalty and broke the ‘Vogel curse.’ After a missed Hungarian advantage, Bowen scored the American penalty, but Dénes Varga also scored during his exhibition.
With 36 seconds left on the clock, the Hungarians had a player’s advantage, and although Zalánki’s attempt went over the top, the Americans were unable to score in the remaining 12 seconds.
Via MTI; Featured Photo: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd