UVSE is the first winner of the Euro Cup Women – despite losing the first leg at home, they came up big four days later to claim the trophy. Ferencvaros had beaten them in their previous five encounters this season, but the favorites couldn’t rise to the occasion in front of a capacity crowd. At the same time, UVSE’s youngsters were flying high, and with a 0-5 run in the last five minutes they claimed their second European victory after lifting the LEN Trophy in 2017.
𝗨𝗩𝗦𝗘 𝗕𝘂𝗱𝗮𝗽𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗼 𝗖𝘂𝗽 𝗪𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 🏆#LENECWomen #WaterPolo pic.twitter.com/02739DQJIG
— LEN – European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) March 29, 2023
Final, 2nd leg: FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v UVSE Budapest (HUN) 9-13 – aggregate: 18-21
After some tense battling with mistakes at both sides, Dora Leimeter put away the first woman-up, but Natasa Rybanska also put UVSE on the scoreboard with a nice action goal, though they needed three and a half minutes for that. Dora Toth-Csabai’s 6m shot found the back of the net, then Panna Macsai converted a penalty for 2-2. With 53 seconds to go, Tamara Farkas blasted one from a 6 on 5 while UVSE missed their last one, so FTC led 3-2 after eight minutes.
Another extra gone without a shot from UVSE, though their next one went in, thanks to Kata Hajdu’s nice bouncer. The hosts started having problems soon, missed two extras while their rivals scored from the following possessions – first Kamilla Farago hit one from the perimeter to take the lead, then Gabriella Szucs doubled it with a clam finish in a woman-up for 3-5 and at this stage they stood better in aggregate. UVSE killed a third woman-down but couldn’t expand the gap and Szonja Kuna broke the 6-minute silence of FTC. She was on fire, in 35 seconds she sent another one to the top right corner, again from action for 5-5. Farago netted her second from a 6 on 5 for 5-6, while Ferencvaros still struggled with their extra, they missed the fourth one in this quarter. Not with action shots, though, Greta Gurisatti’s blast blew up in the net. Still, UVSE led at halftime as Hajdu also sent the ball home from an extra for 6-7 – to make it even in aggregate.
Not surprisingly, FTC missed another one at the beginning, though UVSE couldn’t make theirs either, the goal-line defence set-up worked for the home side. Alda Magyari came up with another save in a woman-down. Something similar happened at the other side, but UVSE regained the ball and Farago’s brilliant lob put her side 6-8 up. After seven straight misses, Panna Petik finally sent the ball home from a 6 on 5, to score FTC’s first after 5:35 minutes into this period. And the business kicked in, after UVSE missed a clean shot from close, Kuna hit her third from the following 6 on 5, to level the score at 8-8, so FTC retained the single-goal advantage in aggregate before the final period.
The first minute seemed to be crucial as UVSE earned back-to-back woman-ups but FTC’s defence worked quite well as they killed both – and with 5:35 remaining Panna Pocze netted a great action goal from the wing for 9-8. Despite the 3-0 run, UVSE weren’t done, Farago halted her team’s scoreless phase after almost seven minutes with a fine distant shot, her 4th hit in the evening, and 50 seconds later Tiba buried a penalty for 9-10. Magyari made a huge save in a woman-down and Vanda Baksa’s left-handed shot also found its way to the net – it was now a 0-3 run in 1:43 minutes. With 2:15 to go, UVSE got another 6 on 5, after a time-out they could go for a three-goal lead – and they took it as Baksa hit it from the right wing for 9-12. FTC were in trouble with exactly two minutes remaining on the clock – coaching legend Gyorgy Gerendas burnt his second time-out, but it didn’t help. A block denied FTC’s woman-up once more (they were unable to score in the last 5:35 minutes), and UVSE made no mistake to keep their advantage. Another save from Magyari on a woman-down and Panna Szegedi’s goal sealed UVSE’s brilliant win and a second trophy in the club’s history after 2017.
How they saw it
Marton Benczur, coach, UVSE
“I thought my team were not able to surprise me any longer but today they just did that, once again. Of course, we wanted this win, and we watched the videos of our previous games, and of the first leg and we saw some points where we could attack FTC’s weaknesses. OK, the plan is one thing, and the delivery is another and today the girls were simply amazing in implementing everything we agreed before the game. Still, credits go to Ferencvaros, they have a great team, by all aspects they are better than us, but today we just caused a surprise. This was a great final and this game was a praise of Hungarian water polo, both sides showed tremendous quality and my young players just offered a glimpse what the future may behold for Hungary.”
Gyorgy Gerendas, coach, FTC
“Though we won the previous five matches, we know that series are usually halted and, unfortunately, it happened today. It was again a huge physical battle and I felt that even if we took the lead in the fourth, after we simply stopped, perhaps because of a bit of exhaustion. Even the best coach, not me, the best one, would tell you that there are days when a team simply cannot succeed for some reasons and today we had a block, both mentally and physically and were unable to overcome it.”