Hannover came up with an outstanding shooting performance, scored 11 man-up goals to shock OSC in Budapest and gain a four-point lead in the race for the Final Eight with two rounds to go. The top three ranked sides carried on, though none of those wins came with the expected ease – especially Recco got into a scary situation but scored the last two goals after 12-12 against underdog Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade. Earlier in the Serbian capital Novi Beograd beat Jadran in a Group A match brought forward from Saturday.
Group B: Genesys OSC Budapest (HUN) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) 12-17, Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v Pro Recco (SRB) 12-14, CN Marseille (FRA) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU) 15-10, Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 12-9
Standings: 1. Recco 33, 2. Marseille 33, 3. Jug 27, 4. Hannover 17, 5. OSC 13, 6. Spandau 10, 7. Steaua 4, 8. Zvezda 4
Group A: Novi Beograd (SRB) v Jadran Split (CRO) 14-7
OSC had some better performances in its away encounters: beating Jug in Dubrovnik, winning a bit miraculously in Berlin, then pushing Recco to a full-force performance for four periods all showed the Hungarian side’s quality – however, their home record just did not mirror that. Recco, Marseille and Jug beat them soundly (they lost to Spandau by default due to Covid) – and that scoreline set up an all-or nothing duel with Hannover.
And the Germans stunned them right in the first period with a 1-4 run and the Magyars couldn’t really recovered from the opening shock. Their defence didn’t click, Hannover’s man-up play looked as easy as the ABC, they put away 11 extras – so OSC ended up conceding 17 goals at home, the same amount Recco scored against them in Italy. That had been understandable – this Friday crash means that Waspo now enjoys a four-point advantage and despite facing a couple of tough challenges, against Spandau and Jug, both at home, they are very much in the driving seat.
The top three ranked sides all won though they had some struggles while bagging three more points. Recco slowed down once it went 3-7 up in the middle of the seconds period, the youngsters of Crvena Zvezda smelled blood, staged a 4-0 rush, and twice in the third period they even took the lead. At the end, the title-holders prevailed, though, as they managed to score the last two goals of the match after 12-12 while not letting any easy scoring chance to their rival in the final 3:18 minutes.
Marseille also had some headaches as Steaua came back to 9-7 after 9-4 but the French kept the control and rebuilt the gap in the fourth. Jug also had some problems even after netting three connecting goals to take a 7-5 lead by halftime against Spandau. The Germans came back to 8-8 but ran out of gas and were unable to add more for ten minutes while the Croats had a 4-0 run during this phase.
In Group A, Novi Beograd beat Jadran once more after the Regional League final on Sunday. The Serbs netted 14 again while the Croatian side couldn’t keep up with them in the second half this time. Though the visitors led 6-7 early in the third, for the last 14 minutes they became invisible while the F8 host staged an 8-0 rush to get back to the winning track and cut the difference to three points behind Brescia, which faces fellow Serbian side Radnicki on Saturday.
OSC v Hannover 12-17
OSC started the game in great speed, created four fine chances – missed three of them while Hannover did nothing special, just waited for the opportunities and made most of them. Rather all. The Germans put away their first seven (!) man-ups in the first half, while Moritz Schenkel and his defenders managed to unbalance the Hungarian offence on more and more occasions.
Hannover jumped to a 1-4 lead in eight minutes – and the scoreboard already saw what was coming as it ‘decided’ not to show anything any longer. The small interruption did not bother the Germans, though Vince Vigvari kicked off the second period with a smart goal in 12 seconds, but Hannover kept on scoring from man-ups and after their first action goal the hosts opted for substituting the goalie. Soon Marton Levai should come back when it stood 3-8 (and the number of saves was 1-6). The Hungarians climbed back to 5-9 by halftime but their rivals seemed to be very much in control, despite wasting their last two extras.
Kristof Sziladi’s lob from a dying attack gave some hope for OSC at the beginning of the third and a killed man-down and a buried penalty brought them back to 7-9. But Darko Brguljan’s 6m shot found the back of the net, OSC missed its next 6 on 5 badly and their momentum was gone. A 2-shot man-up play reset Hannover’s 4-goal lead at 7-11 with 2:34 to go, and even though Ferenc Salamon blasted one from the distance, Fynn Shutze didn’t miss the next 6 on 4. OSC converted its double man-up too, but their last shot hit the crossbar while Ivan Nagaev’s left-handed pinpoint shot flew to the net from 8m for 9-13, three seconds before the buzzer – and Hannover was on its way to a third consecutive Final 8 appearance.
Erik Csacsovszky pulled one back from the distance, but the Hungarian defence had no solutions to deny Brugljan who buried another man-up with ease while the Germans brilliantly killed the hosts’ next 6 on 5. Brguljan hit his fourth from action for 10-15 and Schenkel came up with two more saves in man-downs, then Petar Muslim’s bouncer ended up in the net, again from a man-up. A couple of 6 on 5 were converted, then another one was well saved by Schenkel – as for contrast, the conversion was 5 for 14 at OSC and 11 for 17 at Hannover. Indeed, the difference was made here.
Crvena Zvezda v Recco 12-14
The game started in the expected way, Recco rushed to a 0-3 lead before the hosts woke up, but the Italians kept the distance and led 3-6 after eight minutes. Then they loosened up at both ends of the pool, first in offence as they could add one more only after 4:15 minutes, then their defence fell apart a bit as the hosts scored three connecting goals and trailed only 6-7 at halftime.
This fuelled them up, and after they killed a man-down, Filip Gardasevic’s shot from the distance brought them back to even at 7-7. After a quick exchange of goals and two minutes of fight the Serbs earned a 6 on 5, Veljko Tankosic put it away, so the team of Red Star led against the mighty title-holders 9-8 with 2:44 to go in the third. Giacomo Canella’s blast 18 seconds later was good enough for an equaliser, but Gardasevic sent the ball home from the next 6 on 5 for 10-9. Gergo Zalanki hit his fourth 53 seconds from time to 10-10 – so Recco had to dig deep as it barely started a fourth period from equal score in this season.
However, their experience and quality prevailed. Aaron Younger’s fine action goal gave them back the lead early in the fourth and even though the Serbs came back twice to even with some outstanding shot making, after 12-12 they couldn’t score any more in the remaining 3:18 minutes. Just 25 seconds later, Younger drove himself to the 2m line and pushed in Alessandro Velotto’s fine assist for 12-13 and after
Recco’s defence easily handled the Serbs weakening attempts, Cannella’s shot from a dying man-up decided the outcome with 32 seconds on the clock.
Marseille v Steaua 15-10
The favourite French took a slow start, Steaua scored two quick goals before the hosts geared up, but once they caught the rhythm, the netted four goals in 2:53 minutes for a 4-2 lead in the opening period.
They carried on in the second till 6-2, then the Romanians managed to halt their scoreless run of 9:47 minutes, but the French kept the gap and still were 8-4 ahead at halftime. When they went 9-4 up via an early action goal by Romain Vernoux, they laid back a bit and that hit back – or rather it was Steaua, as they scored three connecting goals while killed two man-downs. Ugo Crousillat’s fine left-handed blast ended the hosts’ 4:23 minute-long drought and had a calming effect at 10-7.
The Romanians pulled one back again with 43 seconds to go but there was time for not one but two French goals, one from a penalty, and one from a counter, within 35 seconds, so the gap was reset to four (12-8) with one more quarter remaining.
And from here the French never let it go, Steaua came back to three once more but at the end Marseille won by five and extended its winning streak to 11 matches in the Champions League.
Jug v Spandau 12-9
As usual with the Germans, they gave nothing for free and Jug had to fight hard for this win. As long as the Spandau players had enough gas in the tank, they kept on with the favourite Croats, in the first half they could even lead every now and then.
The first drop in their performance came later in the second period when they went 4-5 ahead but could not add any more in the remaining 5:23 minutes while the hosts managed to score three connecting goals and killed two man-downs.
Still, Spandau came back strong in the third and could equalise in 74 seconds for 7-7. The Croats needed four minutes in this period to score again, Loren Fatovic put away an extra, but Dmitri Kholod levelled the score again as he managed to convert a 6 on 5 for 8-8. Jug still struggled a bit, but Alexandros Papanastasiou managed to gain some advantage in the dying seconds and retook the lead from a counter.
Ivusa Burdjelez netted a 6 on 4 from a second attempt after a save and soon after the Germans missed a man-up, Filip Krzic sent the ball home at the other end from a 6 on 5 to decide the outcome at 11-8, with 4:51 to go. One more was added soon – and Spandau could score only 16 seconds from time, so they had one more longer scoring break of 10:07 minutes, and that eventually decided the match.
Novi Beograd v Jadran 14-7
The two sides met on Sunday in the prestigious Regional League final where the Serbs took the upper hand with a better finish and won 14-11. Now they managed to score 14 again but this time the Croats were not able to keep up with them in the second half. Indeed, they admittedly let this game go – rested a couple of key players, even their head-coach – as it had nothing at stake for them while the Serbs had only slim chances to catch up Brescia for the second place (and has a secured berth anyway as the hosts of the F8).
Still, it was an even fight for a while, the hosts’ concentration level dropped a couple of times especially in defence, so Jadran led 5-6 at halftime and still was 6-7 up after two minutes in the third. Then the Croats practically disappeared from the scene – it was a total meltdown: soon the Serbs regained the lead with two action goals in 51 seconds, with a killed man-down in between. Then again, a double in 37 seconds late in this quarter, a missed shot in a 6 on 4 from the Croats in the dying seconds – it was clear that we saw the endgame even with one more period to play.
The Serbs added four more in the fourth to complete an 8-0 run while Jadran couldn’t score in the last 14 minutes – so the Belgrade boys put some pressure on Brescia before the Italians march to the scene on Saturday.
Fixtures for Saturday
12.30 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
19.00 AN Brescia (ITA) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
19.15 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)
Standings: 1. Brescia 26, 2. Novi Beograd 23, 3. Barceloneta 20, 4. Olympiacos 19, 5. Ferencvaros 19, 6. Radnicki 13, 7. Jadran 9, 8. Dinamo 0