HUNGARY 13 NETHERLANDS 12
The Hungarian women delivered what the men could not and that was a gold-medal-final berth for the water polo-crazy nation, by denying Netherlands that cherished position. The match was tied five times in the first half, and only once in the second half — 12-12 — before Hungary won 13-12, setting up a final with reigning champion United States of America. In the curtain–raiser, Australia beat Greece 16-14 in a penalty shootout after Greece tied the match 12-12, thus sending Australia to a fifth-place clash with Spain and Greece to play for seventh against France.
Alda Magyari, the rock on which Hungary builds its defence and thus attack, made a save she will always remember, blocking the ball with her right arm to send the ball on to the top of the net just seconds from time. The tall Hungarian goalkeeper denied Netherlands access to her realm and sent her team to the world championship final. No wonder she was awarded the player-of-the-match award that she will cherish for many years to come. That save was the icing on the cake for Hungary as it toiled hard in the first half to gain an ascendancy over a team of mega shooters and turned a 6-6 halftime score into 8-6, 9-7, 10-8 and 11-9 margins in the third quarter before the Dutch pegged one back. In the fourth, 12-10 soon became 12-12. Then Dora Leimeter swung her left arm and sent in the winning goal, still a vast 3:50 from the final buzzer. This is where the rock came into action and the bustling defence — at both ends — as neither team could mine a goal.
AUSTRALIA 16 GREECE 14 in penalty shootout (FT: 12-12. Pens: 4-2)
Australia, with such a poor penalty conversion rate all tournament, backed itself to beat Greece in the classification 5-8 semifinal by winning a shootout 4-2 after drawing the match 12-12. With the exception of 2-1 and 11-10 leads to Greece. Australia was the aggressor, allowing Greece to level at three and then not until 10, 11 and 12. Australia was comfortable at 6-4 by halftime and 10-8 heading into the last quarter, then Greece came back and made sure that the match went to the penalties, at which Australia had a shaky record. The first two rotations were successful and then Greece had its next two shots saved identically with Gabi Palm’s right hand blocking passage to the goal. There was no need to head to s fifth rotation and Australia had claimed a fifth-place berth on Saturday.