Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

Montenegro is about to claim the top spot in Group A, while Russia is set to finish first in Group B as both sides won its respective clash against their strongest rivals. Russia’s effort was especially amazing as they came back from 9-13 down to beat the Croats 14-13 while Montenegro held the Greeks on a single goal in each period. The fourth day also saw fine wins from Romania (over Germany) and Georgia (against Brazil) and an incredible match between France and the Netherlands where the hosts were 5-9 down but came back to even in the last period which also saw one goal apiece in the last 20 seconds.

Croatia looked to be a sure winner at least twice in the highlighted match of Group B, once when they led 9-5 but then the Russians came back – then the Croats geared up once more and went 13-9 ahead late in the third period. But they fell into the same trap once more – only this time the Russians not only equalised but managed to take over the lead with a 0-5 rush and keep it till the end. Though a controversial call annulled the Croatian equaliser 18 seconds from time – a tie would have been enough for them to stay atop – but instead of lamenting on it the big question to be answered would sound like this: how came that they scored 13 goals in 22 minutes, and none in the last 10?

Well, it was really hard to beleive what happened to the Croats in the last ten minutes - Photos: Marcel tel Bals

In the other big game of the day Montenegro beat Greece with ease, thanks to a terrific start as they jumped to a 0-4 lead right in the first period. The Greeks could never really recover from the shock, the Montenegrin defence worked extremely well and held their rivals on a single goal in each period – also took revenge for their 7-12 defeat in the final at the World League European Qualifiers five weeks ago.

The Greeks could not really handle the big shooters of Montenegro like Aleksandar Ivovic, especially in the first period

Besides the favourites, the other teams were busy to secure their spots in the quarters, at least to have a shot to challenge the ‘big boys’. Romania claimed its first win here by joining the surprisingly wide circle of teams which could beat Germany here, though unlike in the previous matches they downed them in the second half.

Finally, something to celebrate: the Romanians claimed their first win here

Georgia confirmed its rising status by adding a convincing win over Brazil which put them to the third place in the group – though after today’s happenings they may face Croatia in the quarters, not the Russians.

The tattoo shows the desire but the next Olympic water polo tournament will be staged without Brazil...

In the last game France was dominating right from the beginning and seemed to be a sure bet after three periods as they led 9-5 against the Netherlands. Then came the astonishing closing quarter where the Dutch went wild and managed to equalise for 9-9. The French weren't done though, they retook the lead twice, but the hosts had the proper replies – after France scored for 10-11 with 18 seconds remaining, the Dutch went for a 7 on 6 and netted a last-grasp goal once again, 2.8sec from time. Yesterday it earned them two points against Romania, now it meant a precious draw, which already secured them the third place. For the French, the knockout-phase will begin a day earlier as their last match against Romania is a live-or-die encounter.

The Dutch hero: Jorn Muller scored three goals including the last one, just seconds from time

Standings

Group A

1. Montenegro 6, 2. Greece 4, 3. Georgia 4, 4. Canada 2, 5. Brazil 0 (4 matches)

Group B

1. Russia 7, 2. Croatia 6, 3. Netherlands 5, 4. France 3 (–3), 5. Romania 3 (–6), 6. Germany 0