Greek sides Vouliagmeni and Ethnikos claimed promising results against their Hungarians rivals, Eger and UVSE respectively, while the third Magyar team, FTC also lost in Terrassa. Padova were entangled into a surprising close contest with Lille.
Euro Cup Women, Quarter-finals, 1st leg: UVSE Budapest (HUN) v Ethnikos Piraeus (GRE) 10-10, Antenore Plebiscito Padova (ITA) v Lille UC (FRA) 12-10, NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Tigra ZF Eger (HUN) 15-12, CA Terrassa (ESP) v FTC Telekom Budapest (HUN) 9-7
Return leg: 11 February
UVSE, fourth in last year’s Euro League F4 and Ethnikos, winner of the LEN Trophy, produced a thrilling encounter in Budapest – seven weeks after the Hungarians won 10-8 in the same pool in the prelims of the Champions League. Now it was a different story. UVSE managed to come back after falling 1-3 behind early on and one second before the big break they scored for 6-5. They went 7-5 up 42 seconds into the third but the Greeks tightened their defence, shut them out for the remaining seven minutes in this period while Ioulia Kontoni netted two to make it 7-7 before the last quarter. Again, the Hungarians took the lead from their first possession, but Vouliagmeni responded with a double in 54 seconds and at the end the hosts had to equalise 78 seconds from time. It ended 10-10, leaving the decision to the return leg in Piraeus.
The other Greek v Hungarian duel was also balanced for quite a while. Vouliagmeni jumped to a 7-4 lead deep into the second, but Eger replied with two within a minute to trail 7-6 at halftime and equalised from a penalty right away at the beginning in the third. The following minutes saw two goals apiece, then the hosts took the lead once more at 11-10 while Eger missed an extra before the last interval. That was crucial as Vouliagmeni doubled their lead after 50 seconds and even though Dora Czigany netted her fourth for 12-11, soon the Greeks hit two in 43 seconds to expand the gap to three goals. Again, Eger pulled one back, but Amy Ridge netted her fifth in the game to give the home side a 15-12 lead with 4:10 minutes to play. It’s a lot of time but the nets remained untouched, though the Hungarians had two 6 on 5s while the Greeks had one. All in all, the three-goal difference looks like a massive advantage in this pairing.
Many expected Padova to claim a decisive victory in the first leg against Lille – at least their first match early in the season suggested that as the Italians had won 18-10 in the qualifications of the CLW. It turned out differently this time. Lille held on, when the hosts could build a three-goal gap for the first time late in the second period at 8-5, then early in the third at 9-6, the French climbed back to 9-8 – a penalty save by their goalie Mia Rycraw at 9-7 was a crucial stop en route. It was still 10-9 in the fourth, when Padova could add two more to lead 12-9 once more, however, they were unable to score in the last three minutes while Madison O’Reilly buried an extra for Lille with 33 seconds to go to claim a promising result.
In the evening show in Terrassa, the Spaniards jumped to a 2-0 lead while Ferencvaros needed five minutes to open the scoring. However, by halftime the Hungarians came back to 4-4, and early in the third they took the lead for the first time at 4-5. Then they lost their composure in front while the hosts raised their level of play significantly at both ends of the pool. While killing two man-downs, Terrassa hit four in a row, including the last two in 40 seconds for an 8-5 lead. They denied a third one before Belen Vosseberg halted FTC’s bad run, no goal for 6:44 minutes, and put away a woman-up 24 seconds from time for 8-6. The Spaniards missed a 6 on 5 early on, while Dora Leimeter sent the ball home from the Magyars’ next one for 8-7 with 4:29 to go. Cristina Cantero responded in 22 seconds to reset the two-goal gap – and there were four more minutes to play, however, scoring stopped there and perhaps this made the Spaniards a bit happier.
For stats, play-by-play and more, visit https://www.len.eu/disciplines/water-polo/euro-cup-women/
Here the full-length videos of the respective matches will also be available from Sunday.