Great Britain reach quarter-finals after penalty shootout thriller against Israel

Great Britain reached the European quarter-finals after a thrilling penalty shootout victory against Israel at the 2024 European Water Polo Championships in Eindhoven.

Following a tense 9-9 draw, Great Britain were perfect from the spot to seal a 14-13 victory on penalties.

City of Sheffield’s Amelia Peters held her nerve to fire in the winning shot following a stunning save from Sophie Jackson denied Israel’s Dina Namakshtansky.

The first six penalties in the shootout all found the target with Toula Falvey, Lily Turner and Kathy Rodgers all scoring for Great Britain until Jackson’s save gave GB the chance to take advantage.

Annie Clapperton was next and the forward calmly slotted it in the bottom left hand corner. Jackson almost made a second save for Israel’s final penalty but the shot was tipped onto the bar and just crept over the line to keep Israel in it.

That meant it was all down to Peters but the 22-year-old had ice in her veins as she placed her shot in exactly the same spot as Clapperton to send Great Britain into the quarter-finals.

The result sees Great Britain move on to face hosts and world champions the Netherlands in the last eight where they now know that they’ll at least match their finish from 2014 – the last time Great Britain entered this event.

A spirited display

The penalty shootout was the only time Britain were in front throughout the contest after a spirited display from Nick Buller’s team.

The team were chasing Israel all game long but made sure to bring the game level by the end of each period to keep them in the game and always within a chance of winning.

Last year’s sixth place side were always going to provide tough opposition which was proven by them taking the lead inside the opening minute of the match.

Veronika Kordonskaia fired in from 6m’s out to give Israel the lead after just 58 seconds in a quarter where Great Britain fought back from 3-1 down to go into the interval level.

Captain Kathy Rodgers got Britain off the mark but Israel scored two unanswered goals soon after until Falvey hit back.

The Club Natacio Sant Feliu forward scored twice in a minute to bring GB level after an inspired time out from head coach Buller.

Buller used the ‘man up’ opportunity to bring his team together and take advantage of the attack. And following some patient build-up play, Brooke Tafazolli laid the ball up for Falvey to turn home from close range.

That looked to give the GB team some confidence, especially after Falvey was found in the centre and fired in a back hand shot to tie the game up just 35 seconds later.

Goals were hard to come by at times for the British side but they kept battling back to keep themselves in the contest.

They went behind again in the second before goals from Katy Cutler and a rocket from Lily Turner levelled the game up at 5-5 at half time.

This is a collective of everyone’s work in the country

Israel gave it everything to break clear and they thought they had done in the third period.

They went both 7-5 and then 8-6 ahead in the third quarter but the spirit of the British side once again shone through as they clawed back on level terms with just eight minutes left to play.

An extra player goal from Rodgers, a penalty from Turner and an expertly executed lobbed shot from Katie Brown brought GB on terms heading into the final quarter.

Israel took the lead once more thanks to a long range effort from Semone Hila Futorian but Falvey hit Great Britain’s sixth equalising goal and her hat trick to make it 9-9.

Both teams searched for a winner in the closing stages but some incredible defending at both ends of the pool meant the two sides had to settle for penalties where Great Britain came out on top.

Speaking after the match, goalkeeper Sophie Jackson said that this result is for all the people supporting the team from home.

The City of Manchester athlete said: “This is something that we’ve always dreamed of doing since the team was reformed.

“I’m still in quite a bit of disbelief – I haven’t quite comprehended it yet so we’re very excited.

“It wasn’t my best game. The team really stepped in with some huge blocks and I think that team effort really brought us the win.

“We went down so many times but we kept coming back and making big blocks in defence.

“But this result is for everyone back home. Thank you for following on, we really appreciate all of your support. I don’t know how to put it into words.

“Our team is a collective of everyone’s work in the country, the volunteers. Everyone put so much time and effort and this is what we can get out of it and it’s absolutely amazing.”

All matches at the Championships are free to watch on Eurovision Sport which you can sign up for 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 competition.

Image: European Aquatics