Courtesy: LEN Media
Despite being three goals down, Olympiacos managed to save the big game against Barceloneta to a tie to keep its top ranking. Jug earned a great win over Szolnok and now trails only a single point behind the Greek leaders. Spandau won a thriller in Kazan, while Herceg Novi upended the hosts in Split in the battle of the Jadrans.
Group A: Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) 14-11, Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 11-11, Sintez Kazan (RUS) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 11-12, Jadran Split (CRO) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) 6-12
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 16, 2. Jug 15, 3. Barceloneta 13, 4. Szolnok 9, 5. Spandau 5, 6. Jadran Carine 4, 7. Jadran Split 4, 8. Sintez 3
Olympiacos, 5/5 in the previous rounds, was facing its first defeat as Barceloneta led 7-4 late in the second half and Alvaro Granados just grabbed the ball to take a penalty shot. The young Spaniard’s conversion was 10/10 so far but this time he was denied, Zervedas delivered a crucial save and gave some hope for his team.
Soon the Greeks were back, with a double in 69 seconds but the hosts responded well and still held a 9-7 lead before the last period. When Felipe Perrone made it 10-7 early in the fourth, Barceloneta seemed to have it – instead their offence lost its composure while Olympiacos just managed to find that and scored three goals from four possessions for 10-10 with 2:23 to go. With some luck, Milan Aleksic broke the hosts’ silence after 6:15 minutes but Maro Jokovic delivered his trademark lefthanded finisher from a 6 on 5 with 31 seconds remaining (11-11). Barceloneta earned a last man-up but unlike in Herceg Novi, they couldn’t score the winner in the dying seconds.
Szolnok faced its second Croatian test in as many rounds – but it was a totally different affair: while they defeated Jadran Split 5-4 two weeks ago, they took a 4-5 lead in Dubrovnik in the second minute of the second period. But other differences became visible soon too: Jug managed to take the upper hand by scoring three connecting goals to go 8-6 after 5-6 and that proved to be a turning point.
In the second half the Croatian defence tightened up, Szolnok could score a single goal in the third while the hosts added three and by making it 11-8 before the last break, it seemed there was no way back to the Hungarians. There wasn’t indeed, Jug kept the distance with ease and narrowed the gap to one point behind Olympiacos. On the other hand, Szolnok lost to all three higher ranked rivals and conceded 14 goals again in an important away game like in Barcelona.
The 2017 champions still hold a 4-point advantage ahead of their chasers since both Sintez and Jadran Split lost at home respectively. The encounter in Kazan was a thriller, Spandau rushed to a 2-6 lead in eight minutes but Sintez hit back with a 6-1 surge in the second period. It was tied after three quarters, then the Germans netted two in 90 seconds early in the fourth and kept one goal till the end to earn their first win in the current season.
The battle of the Jadrans in Split saw the visiting team from Herceg Novi ruling the game. Though the home side could equalise early in the third for 5-5, soon the Montenegrins stunned them by three goals in 93 seconds and the hosts couldn’t recover from this blow. Missing three key players, the Croats were no match for Herceg Novi, which staged a 0-7 run while the hosts missed a series of chances and could score only 10 seconds before the end, after a drought of 15:26 minutes.
Group B (Wednesday)
18.30 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)
18.30 A Híd-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Pro Recco (ITA)
19.00 FTC-Telekom Budapest (ITA) v Mladost Zagreb (CRO)
20.30 CN Marseille (FRA) v CN Terrassa (ESP)
Standings: 1. FTC 13, 2. OSC 12, 3. Recco 11, 4. Mladost 10, 5. Marseille 9, 6. Terrassa 3, 7. Hannover 0, 8. Tbilisi 0