match 7 - split v china
Split’s first of two games in day 3 came up against the strong Asian counterparts of China.
Both teams were looking for a win to find themselves at the right half of the table come finals on day 4 of the tournament.
And both teams did just that, as they fired a 3-3 scoreline going in to the first break.
Goals from Filip Voleta and Liang Nianxiang opened the scoring for either side, whilst Andro Franicevic and Zhang Chufeng grabbing the latter two for their respective sides.
Split, powerhouses in European water-polo, were yet to produce the dominant displays that brought fear in to the eyes of their opponents on day 1 – but that was about to change, a second period dominated by the Croatian’s it saw the Europeans cruise out to a 7-4 lead at half time.
And the third period did wonders for coach Groan Sablic who finally saw some life from his players as Split took the game to Japan 11-5 at the final break, Andro Franicevic bringing up the highest goal tally of the match with 4.
But what was to come almost would have inspired anyone watching, China, some 6 goals down with only 8 minutes to pull off a miracle, almost, did just that.
They were first to score in the final term with Lui Siwei finding the net early on, but a reply from Martin Stekovic restored some clarity,
However a Stekovic goal was followed by a Zhang Chufeng hat-trick in the final term, bringing the score to 12-8 and some nervous faces on the Split bench, with the clock ticking down, the Chinese were looking to stage the biggest comeback of this Tom Hoad Cup.
With minutes remaining, Jiang Bun, Lu Wenhui did their best to bring the deficit ever closer, but it was no enough as the Chinese crashed to a one goal defeat, losing 12-11, in one the most exciting water polo matches of this year’s Tom Hoad Cup.