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Slick Romania give Malta reality check with dominant display

The Malta waterpolo national team found the going tough against Romania. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

After all the euphoria emanating from their 19-5 victory over Lithuania, a sense of reality was knocked back into the Maltese players yesterday.

The day after earning a fourth consecutive qualification for the European Championships, Malta found Romania well beyond their reach when the teams faced each other in the final match of the 2022 LEN European Championships Group C Qualifying round.

The final outcome gave Malta mentor Karl Izzo the size of the task, his side will face in Split, Croatia, this summer.

The superior technical and physical skills of the visitors were evident from the beginning of the match as they gradually built a commanding lead which put them 7-1 ahead by the halfway mark.

In the latter sessions, Romania spearheaded by an impressive Tudor Andrei Fulea, ran down Malta’s energies with a stifling all-pitch press and their sharp executions earned a comprehensive 18-4 victory.

The visitors were off to a ruthless opening. They were 5-1 up as Vlad Georgescu opened his account with a brace – he eventually reached a poker of goals – and Malta were already up against it and unable to shake off Romania’s vert stringent press.

At least the loose covering in front of Nicholas Grixti was partially alleviated in the second quarter but at the other end of the pitch, Malta looked like a malfunctioning side with the service provided to the point from the flat positions being very poor.

Except for a brief moment in the third session, when Malta trimmed the gap to 7-3 with the goals coming from Dino Zammit and Liam Galea, there was no semblance of a contest.

Romania were intimately faster, more skilful in their handling and had a clear physical edge, thwarting the Maltese time and again from having even a speculative shot at goal.

Further misery was heaped as the Romanians kept up their uncompromising momentum to strike eight more times in the final session against the increasingly faltering hosts.

MALTA 4

ROMANIA 18

(1-5, 0-2, 2-3, 1-8)

MALTA

N. Grixti, J. Muscat, A. Galea, J. Gambin, Darren Zammit, M. Zammit, B. Plumpton, J. Camilleri, J. Abela 1, L. Galea 2, Z. Mizzi, Dino Zammit 1, J. Tanti.

ROMANIA

M. Tic, A. Neamtu 3, L. Vatrai 1, M. Gheorghe 2, A. Gheorghe, A. Prioteasa 2, V. Dragomirescu, A. Fulea 4, S. Colodrovschi , V. Georgescu 4 , F. Czenk 1, L. Vancsik 1, A. Mihaluta.

IRELAND        5

LITHUANIA    17

(1-2, 0-2, 4-7, 0-6)

IRELAND

E. Doyle, B. Murphy, C. Walshe, C. Devlin, M. Hynes 1, A. Caulfield, S. McMahon, M. Connolly 2, E. Bridgemann, M. Fitzgerald 2, A. Mullaney, C. Colvin, G. O’Brien.

LITHUANIA

S. Motuzas, K. Blazevic 1, D. Tomasevski 2, J. Gostautas 3, R. Jakutis 1, P. Vadvilavicius, A. Jonkus 1, M. Pelakauskas 1, G. Zurza, J. Galinok 3, E> Pumputis 2, D. Vitkauskas 3, J. Balcikonis.

Referees L. Krol, P. Radic.

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