Matosinhos, Portugal, July 9, 2016 – In front of 4,800 thrilled spectators at Centro de Desportos e Congressos in Matosinhos, hosts Portugal overpowered the Netherlands 3-1 (25-22, 26-24, 17-25, 29-27) to claim the second ticket for Sunday’s final clash of FIVB World League Group 2. Captain Alexandre Ferreira and Hugo Gaspar led Portugal to a spectacular triumph. It was the revenge for Portugal’s 0-3 loss in the Preliminary Round three weeks ago.
Hugo Gaspar was the leading scorer for the hosts (21 points) as Wouter Ter Maat contributed 17 winners for the Dutch.
Hosts Portugal kick-started into their clash with the Netherlands. Frenetically supported by the home crowd, the team of coach Francisco Santos led 16-14 in the middle of the opening set. The “Oranjes” did their best to bounce back but could not prevent the South Europeans from stretching their lead to three points at 20-17. Led by captain Alexandre Ferreira (7 points in the first set), the hosts never looked back until 25-22.
Portugal kept momentum in the beginning of the second set. The hosts led 16-12 at the second technical timeout but rapidly saw the Dutch closing the gap to one point at 17-16. It became a roller-coaster game with both teams showing their power at the net. At 22-22, the Netherlands drew level with a block winner by Jasper Diefenbach. However, the hosts kept calm. The South Europeans had two set balls at 24-22, which they could not use but eventually capitalized on a Dutch error to seal the second set 26-24.
The “Oranjes” came back strongly in the third (25-17) and partially in the fourth set. The Dutch regained control of the match with an improved block-defense system and a more variable offense. The Portuguese, on the other hand, had lost focus.
In the end of the fourth set, however, Portugal made an outstanding comeback. Trailing 17-22, the hosts scored five consecutive points to draw level at 22-22. In a breath-taking finish, the Portuguese kept the upper hand, closing it out at 29-27 with their fourth match ball.