CHELYABINSK, Russia, June 14. GROUP A matches continued to be suspenseful on the second day of the FINA Men's Water Polo World League Super Final. The United States scored in the last minute against Japan, while Hungary came back to defeat Montenegro in a penalty shootout. That changed in Day 3, with Montenegro and Hungary securing easy victories against the USA and Japan.
In Group B competition, matches for the most part were one-sided affairs with China defeating Brazil and Serbia taking care of the Russians. Day 3 started much the same with Serbia cruising against Brazil–but the surprising Chinese squad gave Russia its second straight defeat for the first time ever.
Day 2 — June 12
Group A: USA 13, Japan 12
After being down 2-1, Japan scored three straight goals with the score after the first quarter reading 4-3, Japan. The USA tied it up early in the second period, but Japan went on another three-goal scoring streak to go ahead 7-4 with 1:29 to go till halftime. Thomas Corcovan and Janson Wigo both proceeded to convert 6-on-5 situations in 35 seconds' time to bring the USA halftime deficit to 7-6.
Shea Buckner tied things up with the first attack of the third quarter. Japan retook the lead twice, but by two minutes into the final quarter the USA led, 11-10. More see-saw action ensued, with Japan tying it at 12-12 on Shiga Mitsuaki's fifth goal. With a minute to go, Japan had a great chance to take the lead, but the shot hit the bar. Janson Wigo got the ball and, with 46 seconds left in the match, scored the winning goal for the Americans.
Group A: Hungary 10, Montenegro 10 (shootout 8-7)
Hungary was successful this time in winning their second straight penalty shootout match, having fallen to the Americans the day before. This time they scored eight goals to Montenegro's seven to give them the victory in the game.
Montenegro jumped out to a 3-1 first period lead and increased that to 6-2 in the second period before settling for a 6-3 halftime advantage. Hungary changed goalies in the second half, switched their defense and made more of their scoring opportunities to turn things around. Hungary climbed back to a two-goal deficit at the end of the third quarter (8-6, Montenegro) and scored four goals to Montenegro's two to bring the regulation portion of the match to a 10-10 draw. The game went to a penalty shootout situation, with Hungary's Marton Vamos giving his team the first win of the tournament.
Group B: China 18, Brazil 3
Brazil took the lead early in the match, but it was soon over. China scored four goals in four minutes to put the game out of reach for the Brazilians at the end of the first period (4-1, China). By the half, China led 9-2; they scored six more goals and Brazil netted its last goal for a 15-3 third period score. The Chinese added three more scores to its total for an 18-3 finish.
Group B: Serbia 14, Russia 11
Serbia led the entire way, even though a couple of their key players did not play in this match. The Serbians went ahead 3-1 after the first period and doubled that to 6-2 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Serbia was up 9-5. The Russians never gave up, scoring six goals in the final period to Serbia's five for a final 14-11 score. This game gave Serbia the top position in Group B.
Day 3 — June 13
Group A: Montenegro 9, USA 4
The United States lost its first match of the Super Final, while Montenegro claimed its first victory. The USA scored first on a goal from Alex Obert two minutes into the match. Montenegro responded with two goals, but John Mann's goal enabled the USA to tie it 2-2 at the end of the first period. Mann scored his second goal and the first of the second quarter. Once again, Montenegro scored two goals to bring the halftime score to 4-3, Montenegro.
Once again, the Americans scored the first goal of the third period with Janson Wigo evening the contest at 4-4. That would prove to be the USA's final goal of the game, as they were held scoreless for the final 13:41 of the game. Montenegro went ahead 7-4 by the end of the third quarter and finished with two more goals in the fourth for a 9-4 win.
Group A: Hungary 11-Japan 5
Hungary led from the beginning, scoring three goals in the first period and never really letting Japan back into the contest. Japan came back in the second with four goals, lowering Hungary's lead to 6-4 at the half. That's as close as they came in the second half, with Hungary scoring two goals to Japan's one in the third period (8-5, Hungary). The Hungarians shut the Japanese out in the final quarter, while adding three goals to make the final score 11-5.
Group B: Serbia 16-Brazil 7
Brazil suffered another lopsided loss, this time to the Serbians, leaders of Group B. Possibly still feeling the effects of their long trip from Brazil to Russia, the Brazilians could only muster two goals against Serbia, who scored five goals in the first period and four more in the second for a 9-2 halftime lead. Brazil showed some firepower in the third period, outscoring the Serbians 5-3. But by then, it was too late. Both teams scored twice in the final period for the final 16-7 score.
Group B: China 12, Russia 11
The most thrilling match–and one of the most historic–of the tournament came at the end of the day when the Chinese faced the hometown Russian squad. Following the lead of the Chinese women who defeated Russia in the finals of the women's Super Final a week ago, the Chinese men held on for the first-ever win against the Russians.
The lead changed several times during the match. Russia actually went ahead 3-1 at the end of the first period. China tied it up at 3-3 in the second, followed by Russia's three-goal spurt to go up 5-3. Less than two minutes after Russia's last goal, the Chinese went on a three-goal streak of their own and ended halftime ahead 6-3.
Eight goals were scored in the third quarter–four by each team. The lead changed hands several time, ending in a 10-9 Chinese advantage. Early in the fourth quarter, Pan Ning earned his fourth goal to bring China up 11-9. Russia closed the gap to 12-11 with 3:50 on the clock, but lacked the firepower to even the game up.