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Waterpolo - 25. July 2011.

Italy, Greece, China and Russia in semifinals - the results of day 5

The biggest news of the women´s waterpolo tournament of the 14th FINA World Championships 2011 here at Shanghai, China so far was caused by European champion Russia today. In the quarter-final matches head coach Aleksandar Kabanov´s players knocked the reigning title-holders USA by a 9-7 to end the incredible series of four final appearances in a row. Evgenia Prokofyeva scored five of nine Russian goals in a pretty strange game.

Team USA had taken all five titles in women´s waterpolo since the 2008 Olympic Games so far: World Championships, FINA World Cup and three World League titles, but this unprecedented series ended today – exactly one year before the 2012 Olympic Games. Furthermore the North Americans made to the final game of FINA World Championships in a row, winning three titles in 2003, 2007 and 2009 and a silver medal in 2005.
 
Actually, it is not impossible to beat the US and some teams even did so in Preliminary Round matches or friendly tournaments. But today´s game was not only important, but also pretty strange. The North Americans gained a clear 4-0 lead after eleven minutes, and Russia needed more than twelve minutes to score. Two minutes after the changing of sides 2007 FINA World Championships MVP Lauren Wenger even brought the score to 6-2, but now the game changed completely.
 
It was to be one of these games that sometims happen in women´s waterpolo. Coaches are driven crazy, because they cannot do anything. Russia launched a 7-0 run and gained a 7-6 lead in less than four minutes. At the score of 6-6, Ekaternia Prokofyeva scored three goals in a row. Team USA was not able to get back in the match, missing man-up chances and a penalty-shot. Three Russian players were fouled out, but Prokofyeva scored her fifth goal to bring the score to 9-6 in the last minute.
 
So Russia gained their fifth semi-final appearance in a row and the team from Eastern Europe is going for big title on the FINA stage. Up to now, the Russians won only one World League title which was seized in 2008 before the Kabanov age. In all other events, the three-time European champion is still waiting for a gold medal. On the other side of the pool, US head coach Adam Krikorian missed a big title for the first time since he came to office in 2009.
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