GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA (Reuters) – Holders the United States and former winners Spain romped into the women’s water polo final at the World Aquatics Championships and qualified for the 2020 Olympics after emphatic wins over their respective rivals on Wednesday.
A solid defense propelled the Americans, who have won a record five titles, to a 7-2 win over Australia before 2013 champions Spain overwhelmed Hungary 16-10 thanks to four goals each from Roser Tarrago and Judith Forca Ariza.
The U.S. romped into a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and netted another three unanswered goals before the Australians, who were stifled in the opening half, finally got on the scoreboard midway through the third period.
A Bronte Halligan goal reduced the arrears to 6-2 before Alys Williams put the icing on the cake for the United States, whose goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson racked up 14 saves.
Williams, Stephania Haralabidis and the game’s most valuable player Makenzie Fischer led the winners with two goals apiece.
The other semi-final produced an avalanche of goals with Tarrago scoring four of Spain’s opening six to help her team to a 10-8 halftime lead.
Ariza took over in the second half with three successive strikes amid a 6-1 run which put the game beyond Hungary’s reach despite a fine individual performance by Dora Leimeter, who also scored four goals.
Australia will clash with Hungary in the bronze medal match before the U.S. take on Spain in the final on Friday.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Christian Radnedge)