Malta                 4

Spain                21

(1-4, 0-5, 2-8, 1-4)

The Malta waterpolo national team endured a difficult start to their European Championship opener when they slumped to a heavy 21-4 defeat in Barcelona on Monday.

Karl Izzo’s men tried to keep abreast with one of the tournament favourites but Spain’s superior technical ability made all the difference to coast to a comfortable victory.

It had all started brightly for Malta as in their first foray in the Spanish area, Jerome Gabaretta gave them the lead with a well taken shot.

The goal injected more self-belief in the Maltese players who were showing good defensive organisation with goalkeeper Nicky Grixti effecting some excellent saves.

But as the time passed the hosts started to make their technical superiority count, scoring four goals without reply to take a strong foothold on the match after the opening 10 minutes.

Goals from Roger Compte and Alejandro Bustos Sanchez put Spain with a five-cushion lead.

The Maltese did try to limit the damage with more defensive cover and had even two man-up situations which they failed to convert.

But there was no stopping the Spaniards, who added four more goals to take a 9-1 lead at the interval.

Spain’s goalscoring machine continued to fire in the third session when they scored eight times with Grandos Ortega reaching a poker of goals while Compte completing his hat-trick.

The only positive for Malta was Stevie Camilleri’s brace that somehow stopped momentarily the hosts dominance.

The last session had little else to offer other than the Spaniards tried to boost their scoring record, added five more goals with Matthew Zammit netting Malta’s only goal.

Malta will now be back in action on Wednesday when they face tournament favourites Montenegro.

The Montenegrins opened their campaign with an 8-6 win over France.

Malta: N. Grixti, J. Gabaretta 1, A. Galea, J. Abela, M. Spiteri Staines, M. Zammit 1, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri, B. Plumpton, A. Cousin, N. Bugelli, D. Zammit,  J. Tanti.

Spain: D. Lopez Pinedo, A. Munarriz Egana 3, A. Granados Ortega 4, M. Del Toro Dominguez 2, M. Alferez Aniguell 2, M. Larumbe Gonfaus 1, F. Fernandez Miranda 1, R. Compte 4, F. Perrone 2, B. Guell 1, A. Bustos Sanchez 1, E. Lorrio Bejar.

Referees: Sergey Naumov (Russia), Irakli Kikalishvili (Georgia).


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