Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

Hungary and Croatia will replay last year’s World Championship final in the quarters here in the men’s World League Super Final in Budapest as the host team beat Japan with ease but the world champions fell to the US in a great game and dropped to the third place in their group. The Americans finished atop with three wins, just like Montenegro which also maintained its clean sheet by defeating Australia.

The opening game of the last round of the group stage couldn't have been any better as USA beat world champion Croatia in a thrilling game. The Americans took control early and built a massive four-goal lead and kept three for the last period. In the final eight minutes the Croats began playing worthy of the No. 1 team in the world and their all-in approach almost brought its result but couldn't equalise and force a shootout. This means the US boys claimed the top spot in Group B with three wins while the Croats might land on the third place and this set up a quarterfinal against the host Hungarians.

The famous penalty save from USA's Baron McQuin (see match report) - Credit: LOC / Jozsef Szaka

Montenegro didn't commit the same mistake against Australia, they kept the match under firm control and even though the Aussies fought hard and had some slim chance to turn this game into a nailbiter but couldn't come closer than two goals. Thus Montenegro also secured the top spot with three great wins and is set to face an easier quarterfinal.

Spain enjoyed an easy cruise against Kazakhstan as expected. The Spaniards bounced back from their opening day loss to the US by beating Croatia on Day 2 in a shootout and today they marched on and earned a rather easy win which secured their second place in the group.

Hungary applied the same tactics against Japan which had brought a multiple-goal win at the Rio Olympics, letting their powerful centre-forwards did the hack of the job in front as they were two-size bigger if not more (XXXL v M...). The difference in height and weight, as well as in the speed of the shots made the outcome inevitable.

The usual scene: small v big – the Hungarians dominated these kind of body-to-body duels - Credit: HUN WP FED/David Madar

For detailed stats and play-by-play descriptions click on the links below – the usual game reports and photogallery are at the bottom of the article.

15.15 Group B: Croatia v United States 10-11

16.45 Group A: Montenegro v Australia 10-8

18.45 Group B: Kazakhstan v Spain 3-11

20.00 Group A: Japan v Hungary 7-14

Final standings

Group A

1. Montenegro 9, 2. Hungary 6, 3. Australia 3, 4. Japan 0

Group B

1. United States 9, 2. Spain 5, 3. Croatia 4, 4. Kazakhstan 0

Quarterfinals – Schedule

15.15 Montenegro v Kazakhstan 

16.45 Australia v Spain

18.15 Hungary v Croatia

19.45 United States v Japan