BARCELONA, Spain, July 16. HUNGARY, with the World Cup crown it won in Perth, Australia last December, defeated the reigning world champions, Italy 11-10 in probably the best match of the tournament, only grabbing the lead inside the last two minutes.
Zsuzsanna Tiba took the lead for Hungary at 1:54 with a shot from eight metres and Agnes Valkay scored her third at 1:17 on a cross pass to seal the match. Cinzia Ragusa dragged one back but was ejected with 26 seconds left, allowing Hungary to have a timeout and control the ball until the end of the game.
All hope is not lost for the Italians. In Fukuoka, Japan two years ago, Italy lost to Russia but won the title. In Perth in 1998, Italy lost three games and still went away with the title.
For Germany, it was a second victory and passage to the second round and beyond. The stunning 10-8 victory was owed much to the almost arrogance of Ariane Rump, the brute strength of Stefanie Schindelbauer and the swift reflexes of goalkeeper Simone Budde. The Germans were 3-1, 6-4 and 10-6 ahead at the breaks Head coach Marcel Ter Bal was visibly excited after the match, as much as the Greek players were distraught.
Ter Bal said: "We've improved a lot because we've trained hard and the federation has given us more money." On the other side of the fence, Greek captain Dmitra Asilian said: "It was a very bad game for us. All things went wrong."
The game was sixth on the program and until then the games had run their courses without controversy or closeness.
World No 3 Canada sent off Brazil 9-2 in the Americas match, Olympic champion Australia defeated Great Britain 16-2 in what was a close thing for the Aussies. By having a 14-goal margin, Australia goes into the third match against Canada with a one-goal advantage. Should the teams tie, Australia will receive the bye into the quarterfinals.
Russia pummeled Venezuela 23-4 to take a stranglehold of Group B, ahead of the Netherlands, who downed Japan 15-3. With a two-goal advantage, the Dutch need to win to miss the second round.
The Americans has a three-goal advantage over Germany after beating France 15-3. The USA trained heavily in the morning, including weights, so just needed the win to get ready for Thursday.
In Group D, following Hungary's win, Spain enthralled the large crowd with a 7-4 win over Kazakhstan. Anna Ramirez was stellar with four goals.