Champions League Day 5. As It Happened.

Goal Keeper wins the game for Barceloneta. Title holders Ferencvaros draws with Pro Recco.

Group A

Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) v Jadran Split (CRO) 5-4,

Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (CRO) Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) 12-13,

Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 13-8,

Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Sintez Kazan (RUS) 18-10

Barceloneta had to dig deep to turn the match in Herceg Novi but after sending its goalie to attack in the last possession it managed to score the winner with 0:02sec to go. Szolnok edged out Jadran Split in a nailbiter, Olympiacos downed Spandau with a 5-0 run while Jug floored Sintez by a 7-0 opening period so the four top seeds all bagged three points.

In Herceg Novi the hosts offered a stunning opening period as they took a 4-1 lead against top favourite Barceloneta. The Spaniards arrived to the match in the second period and showed some quality as they staged a five-goal surge (the last three came in a span of 86 seconds) and seemed to have found their rhythm. However, their lead didn’t last long, this time Jadran Carine hit back with a triple in 81 seconds for 8-6. These three-goals runs became an essential part as next came Barceloneta and soon it was in the lead again at 8-9 but Marko Petkovic could equalise with just three seconds before the last break.

The final period couldn’t have been any more exciting. The visitors went ahead twice, the Montenegrins levelled the score each time, then, at 11-11 they had a man-up after a time-out with 1:26 minutes remaining. They missed it and Felipe Perrone earned a penalty from the ensuing counter. Alvaro Granados buried it with 0:37 to go but Vladan Spaic netted a magnificent back-handed shot from the centre just 15 seconds from time. Barceloneta called for a time-out, set up a 7 on 6 with its goalie on the 2m line and the home side couldn’t adjust its defence and Felipe Perrone had a clear shot which he didn’t miss two seconds before the end.

On the contrary, in Szolnok the defences worked pretty well and the goalkeepers were also outstanding. Jadran’s offence was visibly weaker with the absence of four key players, they needed 10:42 minutes to score their first goal and after three periods they stood with only two. Though the home players missed a series of attempts but still held a 5-2 lead before the last quarter. Few would foresee that they would not score in the last 10:04 minutes and Zvonimir Butic added two in 70 seconds to shave the gap to one at 5-4. Mate Anic stopped a penalty to cap his magnificent performance (16 saves, 76.2%), though Viktor Nagy also delivered on the other end (75.0%) so Szolnok could keep these three crucial points at home. Jadran’s problems in front were mirrored by the fact that Butic was the only one who scored for them – four hits, two from penalties – and only three other players took shots at all while the team was 2 for 13 in man-ups though Szolnok’s 0 for 9 didn’t deserve too much praise either.

The other two favourites didn’t go through any similar excitements. Spandau could stay close to Olympiacos for one and a half quarters, then, after 5-5 the Greeks scored three connecting goals in 1:41 minutes, added two more in the middle of the third to go 10-5 up and maintained this gap till the end.

Jug played a perfect opening period against Sintez, the Russians seemed to be lost completely as they conceded one goal after the other from the counters and the Croats took a decisive 7-0 lead after just eight minutes. Their rivals could score their first at 9-0 – deep into the second period the number of shots on goal demonstrated the difference: it was 15-6 to Jug. The remaining time saw a bit more balanced game as the last three periods produced an 11-10 partial score.

Group B

  • 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

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.

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 favorite 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.

Courtesy: Len Media