Great Britain to face Croatia after defeat to Olympic medallists Hungary

Olympic bronze medallists Hungary were just too strong for a fighting Great Britain side at the 2024 European Water Polo Championships in Eindhoven.

Hungary ran out 21-5 winners in the 5-8 place playoff semi-final match meaning Great Britain will now take on Croatia in the 7-8 place match on Saturday.

It’s set to be a crucial contest as Great Britain look to match their best finish at the event since 2012 with a win on Saturday.

Croatia finished eighth at the European Championships two years ago and will be hoping to better that placing in what’s set to be tight contest.

Like in Thursday’s defeat to the Netherlands the British side fought valiantly throughout, but the quality of three-time champions Hungary was just too much for the British team.

The experience of the Hungarian side was clear to see throughout the match-up with the fast starting Hungarians storming into a 3-0 lead inside the opening three minutes.

Their captain, Rita Keszthelyi, was the standout performer for her side, netting five throughout the match with four in the first quarter alone.

She showed her class in front of goal including two expert penalties which gave no chance for the ever-impressive Sophie Jackson in goal.

Great Britain’s captain Kathy Rodgers did get the team on the scoreboard in the opening period however.

Some good ball movement gave Katie Brown some space on the right before she teed up Rodgers to turn home but Hungary had already put themselves into a comfortable position.

They held a 7-1 lead at the end of the opening period so despite an improved second quarter, Great Britain could only limit their scoring from then on.

Hungary added four more in the second but Rodgers grabbed another one back as Great Britain ensured they got on the scoreboard in each quarter.

The goal came after Hungary’s keeper, Boglarka Neszmely, rushed out allowing Rodgers to turn away from her and fire the ball into an empty net.

‘A huge game’

Great Britain had opportunities to add to their tally but the Hungarian defence were on top form and at the other end they were clinical in front of goal.

A second half strike from centre forward Toula Falvey saw her continue her goal scoring form. She grabbed goal number 15 for the tournament as she continues to take on Europe’s best in the scoring charts.

Amelie Perkins added to her two goals from the quarter-final in the final period. The 16-year-old turned her marker and scrambled the ball home with just four minutes left to play.

But Hungary kept on coming and their quality was proven by some fine centre forward play from Mahieu Geraldine in the closing stages. She drew in three markers before feeding the ball out wide to Kuna Szonja who’s cross field pass found Tina Panna free at the back post to turn home.

Katie Brown then swam through and lobbed the keeper to get Britain’s fifth of the match but an extra player goal from Geraldine extended Hungary’s advantage to 16 to close out the contest.

After the match Falvey said that the British team are focused on Saturday’s crunch match with Croatia.

She told LEN: “We came into this knowing this will be a super hard game but before the match we decided there were a couple of things that we really wanted to focus on.

“Things like getting field blocks and finding little victories that we could get in this game and we were happy with that and now all focus goes on to our next game.

“We’re playing Croatia and it’s a huge game for us. We’re trying to qualify for the world championships with this match and we’re so excited about the opportunity to play in this so we’re super focused and ready for Saturday.”

They’ll be back in action at 3:00pm GMT on Saturday for their final match with Croatia which you can watch live for free on Eurovision Sport here.

For live results and the full schedule of the competition you can check out the event website, which contains all the information you need to know about the Championships.

Image: European Aquatics