Szolnok (HUN), Crvena Zvezda (SRB), Brescia (ITA) and Jadran Split (CRO) topped the respective groups in the second qualifying round in the Champions League. One more Croatian, Hungarian and Italian team joined them – the latter one, Savona advanced in a rare scenario: they did not win a match, had three ties but that was enough to claim the second place.
Champions League, QR II, final rankings
Group C (Szolnok): 1. Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) 7, 2. RN Savona (ITA) 3, 3. NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 2, 4. Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) 2.
Group D (Zagreb): 1. Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 6, 2. HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) 6, 3. GS Apollon Smyrnis (GRE) 6, 4. Montpellier WP 0
Group E (Paris): 1. AN Brescia (ITA) 7, 2. OSC-Budapest (HUN) 7, 3. CN Noisy-Le-Sec (FRA) 3, 4. CN Terrassa (ESP) 0
Group F (Split): 1. Jadran Split CRO) 9, 2. CN Barcelona (ESP) 6, 3. Primorac Kotor (MNE) 3, 4. CSM Oradea (ROU) 0
In Group C, only host Szolnok could win matches, the other three teams left the venue without a victory. Savona could force a tie with the first placed Hungarians and that sent them through as the rest of the games was also drawn. It also meant an end to Jadran Herceg Novi’s campaign – the Montenegrins had some fine matches last season in the main round, now their European tour is over.
A three-way tie favoured Crvena Zvezda and host Mladost in Group D, while Apollon came up short at the end, despite beating the host Croatian team on the opening day.
On the opening day in Group E, Brescia saved the big game against OSC to a tie in a miraculous way, staging a 3-0 run in the last 92 seconds after seemed to have been done at 7-10. Last year’s semi-finalist finished atop at the end, thanks to their better goal-difference as the Hungarians played tight matches with Terrassa and Noisy but prevailed to book a berth in the play-off round.
Jadran Split had no headaches at home – indeed the Croats were the only side in this round which could win all three matches (to highlight how balanced was the field). Barcelona also claimed a convincing win to knock out the other Montenegrin team Primorac and now the Spanish face a group-winner in the next phase.
The first and second ranked sides will be drawn against each other on Monday, the winners will book the qualifying spots in the main round, the losers will continue in the Euro Cup quarter-finals. The draw will be published on Monday.
Italy is 2/2, drama in Budapest
Both Italian entrants, Palermo and Ortigia reached the quarter-finals, and Hungary’s BVSC and Spain’s Sabadell can also wait for the draw – a bit surprisingly the other Magyar club, Vasas fell amidst dramatic circumstances.
Euro Cup, QR II, final rankings
Group C (Palermo): 1. Telimar Palermo (ITA) 7, 2. BVSC-Zuglo (HUN) 7, 3. VK Sabac (SRB) 1, 4. Team Strasbourg (FRA) 1
Group D (Budapest): 1. Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 6, 2. CC Ortigia (ITA) 6, 3. Vasas-Budapest (HUN) 6, 4. Solaris Sibenik (CRO) 0
The first two days decided the outcome in Group C as both Palermo and BVSC posted fine wins, just as they did in the previous round last week. The Hungarians played a tight game with Sabac but managed to bag all three points (8-7), while the host Italians had two easy runs. That favoured them at the end since the game of the two top sides produced an epic 17-17 draw and the better goal-difference put Palermo atop.
The other group had much more excitements, especially after Sabadell upset host Vasas on Saturday evening. Returning to the European stage after nine years, Vasas was considered a hot favourite based on their extremely strong line-up – but the Spaniards could keep them on four goals, shut them out in the last 12 minutes to win 6-4.
That set up a do-or-die clash between Vasas and Ortigia where the home team needed a two-goal win to survive this round – that would also have ended the Italians’ run. In the middle of the third, Vasas seemed to have at it 7-2 but Ortigia bounced back with four connecting goals while the Magyars were frozen again. Vasas scored after 11 minutes for 8-7 but Cristiano Mirarchi buried a man-up 20 seconds to go. The hosts had a last man-up in the last 11 seconds but couldn’t make it and the 8-7 win wasn’t enough to go through.