Though Kinef Kirishi targeted the Euro League title as usual, but after failing to reach that Final Four its European campaign still ended on a high note as the Russian super team won the LEN Trophy. It’s the first ever for them in this competition, a fine addition to their EL victories from 2017 and 2018.
LEN Trophy Final: CN Mataro Goufone (ESP) v Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) 8-10. Bronze medal match: Lifebrain SIS Roma (ITA) v Astralpool- Sabadell (ESP) 5-11
Two three-goal surges from Kirishi proved to be decisive in the final, though Mataro fought bravely to keep the Russians under pressure but did not have a real chance to cause an upset.
The Spaniards stunned the Russians in the opening period as they managed to shut them out for the entire eight minutes. Kirishi needed 10:26 minutes to start scoring but once they settled in the final they netted three in a span of 2:42 minutes to go 2-4 up from 2-1. It stood 3-4 at halftime, then came the second ‘lethal’ rush, this time the three goals flushed in within 100 seconds to give the Russians a 3-7 lead.
Mataro wasn’t done though, two goals in the last 40 seconds in the third gave them some hope and indeed they could reduce the gap to a single goal at 7-8, then at 8-9. But Kirishi responded quite well, earned 6 on 5s in the next possessions on both occasions and put them away. When Bella Markoch found the back of the net 54 seconds from time for 8-10, it was inevitably the winning touch: Kirishi could clinch its third European title in five years.
Credits go to Mataro as they could force a much tighter contest than Sabadell had done in the semis, despite the fellow Spanish club had been considered a bigger threat to Kirishi. Before the final, Sabadell got some consolation in the bronze medal match, they didn’t leave any chance for Roma.
Dani Ballart, coach, Mataro:
“In a final you have to be perfect and we almost were during three periods and a half, but some little mistakes, our inexperience and the pressure of the moment led us to lose the match at the end. But if we saw all the history of Kirishi and we compare it to ours, I think we have to be satisfied with our game today and we have to understand that we are doing a great season.”
Marta Bach, captain, Mataro:
“Now is hard to understand and accept that we had an incredible match. We show a good water polo and in this match the defense was the key. We finished this European trip by completing a good job and now we would like to focus on the job our club is doing for us and for water polo.”
Evgeniya Ivanova, player, Kirishi:
“The match was very exciting and we are very satisfied because this is a very prestigious tournament. Both teams wanted to be in this final, but today we were better than Mataro. We are very happy to return to Russia with this trophy, so we will play for the European Super Cup. Also, I would like to add that this is our first Len Trophy, so we made history.”
Bronze medal match
David Palma, coach, Sabadell:
“Today we are satisfied. We wanted to play a good match to finish with a big victory against a great team in a European competition. We are happy with this third position, despite we would have liked to reach the final. Yesterday we didn’t play a great match and Kirishi overcame us, that’s how sport works.”
Maica Garcia, captain, Sabadell:
“We are happy with the match we played. I think we started really strong. We wanted to win this bronze to finish the European competitions with good feelings. Today we will enjoy this medal, but from tomorrow we have to focus on the national league.”
Marco Capanna, coach, Roma:
“This match was better than the one yesterday. Our players were a little bit sad and tired, and though I expected to see a more powerful performance, I still want to recognise the soul and the attitude they showed during every minute of the game. We will come back to the European competition and our next campaign is going to be better!”
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