Title-holder Ferencvaros halted Recco’s 33-game home winning streak but couldn’t convert its late two-goal lead into a victory as Recco managed to save the big game to a draw. OSC, Mladost and Marseille all added three points as expected, in high scoring matches.
Pro Recco (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 13-13, CN Terrassa (ESP) v A Híd-OSC Budapest (HUN) 10-15, CN Marseille (FRA) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) 17-7, HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) 15-13
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
It was full house in Bologna and the fans got everything they paid for: a brilliant clash between 8-time winner Recco and title-holder Ferencvaros. It was real entertainment and a thrilling water polo match featuring the greatest stars of our days.
After a balanced first period Recco had a great spell and took a 7-4 lead deep in the second but the Hungarians didn’t crack under the pressure and came back to 7-7 by halftime. They got a couple of gifts from the hosts, though, as Francesco di Fulvio hit the post from a penalty at 7-5 and in the dying seconds Zoltan Pohl’s shot from the half-line (appr. 12m) sneaked in under the goalies arm.
The title-holder came back fired up and in a span of 95 seconds they netted three action goals. Denes Varga’s magic worked again, his backhander from 7m gave a 7-10 lead to the visitors (they were in a 0-6 rush). They had a man-up to go +4 but wasted it and Dusan Mandic ended Recco’s 10:17 minute-long scoreless phase and by the end of this quarter the hosts climbed back to 10-11.
Ferencvaros held on, netted two man-ups and with 4:44 to go they were still 11-13 ahead but couldn’t find the back of the net in the remaining time. Francesco Massaro had a couple of saves while an extraman goal and Aleksandar Ivovic’s action shot 2:00 minutes from time levelled the score. In the dying seconds the Magyars had a man-up but failed to take a shot so they had to settle for a draw. This ended Recco’s 33-game home winning streak in the Champions League prelims but at least the Italians have remained unbeaten since January 2014.
OSC bounced back from its surprising home loss to Marseille and pulled off a fine win in Terrassa. The other Hungarian side galloped to a 2-7 lead early in the second period but the Spaniards managed to get closer, with 1:32 remaining in the third they trailed by only one at 8-9. But the favourites reacted well, scored twice in the last minute, then, after 9-11 in the fourth, Andrija Prlainovic delivered two trademark 6m shots in 51 seconds to expand the gap to four (9-13) and that was a killing blow for Terrassa.
Mladost had to come up with a big 5-goal final period as Hannover offered its best performance so far. The Germans proved that despite their four losses, they could be a threat to any team as they pushed the Croats to their limits. The hosts were always in front but Hannover kept coming back even after 7-5 and 8-6 and the final quarter began at 10-10. There, in a span of 1:32 minutes, Mladost managed to net three goals but the Germans weren’t done and hit back with a double in 34 seconds for 13-12. But Milos Cuk’s blast 13 seconds later, his 5th in the evening, was the best possible response followed by a killed man-down and that proved to be decisive.
With Marseille clinching a great win over Tbilisi – the French didn’t let the Georgians into the game as they took a commanding 10-3 lead by halftime – the race for the F8 berths already looks pretty exciting. The three favourite sides already dropped some points while Mladost and Marseille had some extra gains so far, thus now a single point separates the respective sides following each other from places 1st through 5th.
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