Karl Izzo’s team to face Germany in play-off for 13th place
(3-2, 2-3, 3-3, 5-1)
The Malta waterpolo national team secured an impressive win over Slovenia to secure themselves their best ever placing at a European Championship after securing a 13-9 victory in Split.
Karl Izzo’s men were on their game right from the outset as they outplayed their more-quoted opponents with their fast swimming and precision shooting to assure themselves of finishing in 14th-place at the continental finals – their best ever result attained since their first participation in Belgrade.
Malta’s best ever finish in a European championship was when they beat Turkey to place 15th in Belgrade in 2016.
Dino Zammit was Malta’s leading scorer with a hat-trick while Ben Plumpton, Liam Galea, Nicholas Bugelli and Matthew Zammit scored a brace with the other goals coming from Andreas Galea and James Gambin.
The Maltese outfit will now be in action on Tuesday when they face Germany in the play-off for 13th and 14th at 10.30am.
Malta enjoyed a very strong start to against the Slovenians as they surged into a two-goal lead courtesy of a Matthew Zammit penalty conversion and Ben Plumpton’s firm drive.
Jan Justin pulled a goal back for the Slovenians from a man-up set but James Gambin soon restored Malta’s two-goal lead.
But Justin struck again at the death to leave the Maltese with a one-goal lead at the end of the first session.
Plumpton missed the chance of restoring Malta’s two-goal lead and the Slovenians quickly punished them as Jasa Lah made it 3-3.
But the Maltese kept threatening and Liam Galea concluded a fine transition to put his team back to front.
The Slovenians soon hit back as Aleksandar Cerar made it 4-4.
Matthew Zammit won a penalty with just 30 seconds left and Dino Zammit made no mistake but the Slovenians had the final say Jasa Kadivec struck from a man-up as both teams were locked at 5-5 at the interval.
Malta started well the third session as Bugelli was at the heart of a quick counter-attack and Dino Zammit rammed home.
The Slovenians looked rattled and the Maltese punished their opponents with another quick break as Plumpton made it 7-5.
Matej Nastran put the Slovenians one goal behind with a firm strike from six metres before Jasa Kadivec again restored parity from a man-up set.
It was tit-for-tat with Liam Galea putting the Maltese back in front and Matic Rahne responding for the Slovenians.
It was all to play for in the final session and Nicholas Bugelli put Malta ahead with a shot from a close angle.
Tanti was holding firm in goal and the Maltese surged two goals ahead with a quick break concluded by Dino Zammit.
Malta’s fast swimming was proving too much for the Slovenians as from another break Matthew Zammit put his team in a commanding 11-8 lead.
The Slovenians looked down and out as Liam Galea struck from another lightning transition as Malta were all but home.
Martin Stele pulled one back for the Slovenians but Bugelli put the seal to his team’s victory.
MALTA: J. Tanti, S. Gialanze, A. Galea 1, J. Gambin 1, D. Zammit, M. Zammit 2, B. Plumpton 2, N. Bugelli 2, J. Abela, N. Zammit, L. Galea 2, D. Zammit 3, N. Grixti.