Milan, Italy, September 22, 2018 – The second day of Pool E matches at the Forum di Assago in Milan started with the Netherlands and Finland delivering a real show for a sell-out crowd. At the end of an incredible two-hour game, the Netherlands claimed a 3-1 victory (25-19, 23-25, 25-16, 25-13). Man of the match was spiker Nimir Abdel-Aziz who scored 22 times for the Netherlands, while opposite Urpo Sivula set the pace for Finland with 23 points.
The game was a close one in the early stages with the Netherlands reaching the first mandatory break one point ahead at 8-7. Spectacular actions by Dutch captain Abdel-Aziz, best scorer of the set with seven points, secured a four-point lead for his team. Finland coach Tuomas Sammelvuo called his first timeout (14-10) and as requested, Finland’s best man Urpo Sivula shortened the distance (18-21). The Dutch setter was quick to call into action Abdel-Aziz who pushed on (23-18) before his teammate Thijs ter Horst finished the job at 25-19.
Finland immediately changed gear in the second set and, with a spectacular performance of libero Lauri Kerminen, combined with powerful spikes by Niko Suihkonen, and perfect serves to move the charts to 17-10. The Netherlands struggled to organise their offensive system. Some distractions by Finland gave space to the Netherlands and with ter Horst the Oranjes were back on track at 22-23, before Sivula moved into action for Finland (25-23).
The Netherlands turned things around in the third set, taking off to a strong start (5-3). Finland had a hard time in finding a way over the blocks raised by the Dutch and an inspired Nimir kept up the good work (8-4). Finland quickly lost their confidence and energy, especially in the front line, while the Netherlands kept growing, thus cruising to a comprehensive 25-16 win.
Abdel-Aziz was on fire, with spikes that reached a speed of 113 km/h, as he gave an early advantage to his team (8-4) in the fourth set. A break that Finland was able to shorten, only once, with the excellent performance of Sivula (9-7) before the Netherlands broke away and claimed a comfortable win (25-13).