Malta win 14-13 after penalty shoot-out
(3-3, 2-0, 3-5, 2-2)
Malta clinched the 15th place in the European Waterpolo championships being played in Belgrade, beating Turkey after a penalty shoot-out. The match finished 10-10 in regular time. No extra-time was played.
Goalkeeper Nicky Grixti was Malta’s hero as he saved two of the five Turkish penalty shots, with Malta scoring four of the five throws for a 14-13 final score.
The 15th place is the same Malta had obtained in 2003 when it had then finished third in the European B championships. At the time, only 12 teams took part in the European A championships.
It was a tight affair right from the start, with the two teams exchanging leads before the session ended on a 3-3 score.
Ozbakis gave Turkey the lead with Cousin replying for Malta from a man-up situation. Okman made it 2-1 for the Turks before Gabarretta equalised with a well-taken goal on a cross-pass. Steve Camilleri put Malta in front for the first time but Aksentijevic equalised. All three goals for Turkey came from man-up situations while Malta missed two chances of numerical superiority.
Malta opened up a double advantage in the second session. Steve Camilleri, already on two fouls at this stage, netted from five metres while Mark Meli flicked home for a 5-3 score at the change of ends. Good defending, including when a man-down, enabled Malta not to concede a goal in this session, which was the first to be “won” by Malta in its seventh game in the competition.
But things changed quickly in the third session, as Turkey turned the score in their favour with quick goals before Malta could recuperate to finish the session on level terms at 8-8. Aksentijevic, Yilmaz, Sutalo (2) and Gulenc scored for Turkey with Brownrigg, Cousin and Matthew Zammit replying for Malta.
The fourth session started with the Turks enjoying a double man advantage which they did not convert. For this they were punished by Steve Camilleri who put Malta in the lead once again at 9-8. Malta soon lost Matthew Zammit for good and Aksentijevic equalised for the Turks. Steve Camilleri again gave Malta a one-goal advantage which was neutralised by Gulenc. Malta lost Cousin following his third exclusion as both teams then missed a number of chances for the game to go into a penalty shoot-out at 10-10.
Nicky Grixti turned hero for Malta as he saved two penalty shots for Malta to win the game. Meli, Dino Zammit, Jordan Camilleri and Steve Camilleri scored for Malta, while captain Niki Lanzon missed his five-metre throw.