Great Britain 8-3 Portugal
Great Britain triumphed yet again at the LEN European Nations Trophy in a tighter but no less convincing 8-3 victory over Portugal.
Francesca Clayton put the hosts 2-0 with quickfire first quarter goals after Victoria Hawkins had hit the post. Portugal went into the first break just one goal behind thanks to a Flavia Pachelo goal late in the quarter but Britain were always in command.
The host nation had a gameplan before the match and managed to reduce the tournament’s leading goalscorer Mariana Sarmento to one goal and a host of long range shots.
Sarmento would not be silenced despite the lack of close range chances as she peppered the goal from all angles. The only time she managed to get on the scoresheet, however, was from a penalty.
Ines Braga levelled the match early in the second quarter but, either side of Sarmento’s penalty, Alexandra Rutlidge, Chloe Wilcox and Hazel Musgrove gave Szilveszter Fekete’s side a 5-3 lead going into the second half.
Britain’s superior fitness then seemed to kick in as Portugal failed to add to their tally in the second half. Britain stretched their lead with close range goals from Frances Leighton, Wilcox and Rachel Drabble.
Wilcox’s brace put her level with Sarmento as the tournament’s leading goalscorer said: “It was a good result but I think we could have done better.
“I missed a few opportunities in attack so I could be doing better but everybody on the team is scoring which is the main thing,” she added.
The final quarter failed to produce any goals as Britain held out against their tired opponents. Britain will be hoping to keep up their 100 per cent record against Slovakia tomorrow and qualify for the quarter finals.
Wilcox, looking forward to the final group game, continued: “All the girls are focussed on every game. We have never lost to Slovakia so if we play well we should win.”
Switzerland 10-23 Czech Republic
The Czech Republic completed another comfortable victory as they racked up the most goals in a match with a 23-10 win over Switzerland.
Every department of the Czech team was on form, particularly in goal and attack. Both Veronika Bartunkova and Lucie Votavova grabbed themselves six goals and Aneta Hendrychova scored five.
Hendrychova starred in the third quarter, scoring four of her goals then. The performance was not sololy reliant upon the goalscorers though, as keeper Martina Chvalova impressed.
Chvalova kept out more shots than she let in and would be disappointed to have conceded double-figures.
Bartunkova put the Czech’s ahead before Switzerland captain Nadia Knobel, one of their stand out players along with Erika Brunner who scored four goals, equalised.
The scores were not level for long though and, after Lenka Volpakova had restored her team’s advantage, the Czechs would hold the lead until the end.
The only other Swiss scorer was Paolo De Feo, whose first of the game came in the form of a second quarter penalty.
The high scoring third period belonged to Hendrychova who showed that being in the right place at the right time is important and scored four close range efforts.
The Czech’s eased to victory, though, leaving qualification for the quarter-finals within their reach and dashing their opponent’s hopes.
Ukraine 6-7 Croatia
Croatia stole a narrow last-second 7-6 win against Ukraine to ensure their passage through to the quarter-finals of the LEN European Nations Trophy.
In the lowest scoring game of the tournament so far, it took a speculative effort in the last second of the game from Maja Kalauz to separate the teams.
It wasn’t until the fourth minute that the scoring got underway in a tentative opening. Anastasiya Kotova deflected Kseniya Kurvicheva’s pass into the net to put Ukraine a goal up.
They did not have the advantage for long though as Andrea Premus put Croatia level. Early in the second quarter Ana Gavran gave Croatia a lead which they would not surrender until halfway through the third period.
Going into the second half 3-4 down, Ukraine really upped a gear and won the third quarter by three goals to one thanks to goals from Kotova (2) and Kurvicheva.
Andrea Artukovic then equalised midway through the final quarter and the game looked to be heading for a point apiece until Kalauz struck from distance.
Despite the win, Natasa Andelic, the impressive Croatia goalkeeper, pointed to some areas of improvement: “We were always a couple of points ahead [but] we made a lot of mistakes which is why the result was 7-6.”
Slovakia 13-11 Belarus
Slovakia claimed their first win of the LEN European Nations Trophy with a [SCORE] triumph over Belarus, who will be rooted to the bottom of Group B after two straight defeats.
The match was evenly contested in the first half but Slovakia raced away from their opponents during the third quarter.
Four players, Michaela Migrova and Paula Lacikova for Slovakia and Sviatlana Arlova and Viktoria Ulasava for Belarus, completed hat-tricks in a game which had a lot of exclusions.
After the teams went into half time at 6-6, Slovakia came out all guns blazing in the thirds quarter and doubled their tally and reduced Slovakia to just two goals.
Migrova, Miroslava Ziakova, Eva Hajkova, Baranicova (2) and Lacikova did the damage and the Belarussians were unable to come back from the four gial deficit.
They showed their resilience by putting three goals past the Slovak keeper through Alena Samsonova (2) and Alena Faschanka.
Michaela Tachezyova replied for Slovakia with an impressive swim from end to end, immediately after coming out of the exclusion zone as they ran out two goal winners.
The win takes Slovakia above Portugal on goal difference and a need to record a victory over Great Britain tomorrow. Belarus can qualify but only if they win and Great Britain beat Slovakia by big margins.
Thursday 9 July
16.00 Czech Republic Vs Croatia
17.20 Belarus Vs Portugal
18.40 Switzerland Vs Ukraine
20.00 Slovakia Vs Great Britain
photo Getty Images