The final game of the 2017 Champions League will see the meeting between Szolnok (Hungary) and Jug (Croatia). Today, in the semi-finals in the Danube Arena in Budapest, Jug beat the biggest favorite Pro Recco (10-9), in the re-match of the last year’s semifinal, while Szolnok defeated Eger in the all-Hungarian battle (7-5). Both matches offered very thrilling finishes.
Jug water polo players will play in the final for the 8th time (the Croats won 4 trophies), Szolnok reached its first final game in the LEN Champions League. The final will be played tomorrow (16.45)
SF1: JUG SHOCKED THE FAVOURITES TWICE
Last year Jug beat Pro Recco after the penalty shootout (10-10,15-14) . Today everything was decided after 32 minutes of play, but it was a big battle till the end. Jug netted 10 goals again, but Recco hit 9.
Jug opened the match on the same way as in the quarter-finals against Olympiacos. In just 2:56 minutes the Croats rushed to a 3-0 lead (2:59 by the end of 1st period). Recco recovered from the shock in the finish of the quarter, which ended 4-2.
In the second period, Pro Recco trailed 5-4, after Serbian water polo player Filip Filipovic hit his first goal of the evening (03:33). Jug soon earned a new two-goal lead (Garcia), so at half-time, the Croats led 6-4.
At the start of the second half, Pro Recco turned the score with three unanswered goals. In the middle of the 3rd quarter, Pro Recco had an advantage for the first and the last time (7-6). Recco’s series was followed by a new turn. Jug netted three goals in a span of 1:24 minutes (Markovic, Loncar, Garcia) and the title-holders were 9-7 up! New shock for Recco. Two seconds before the last break Filip Filipovic, the best European and world’s player of 2016, scored from an extra for 9-8.
Two and a half minutes after the start of the last quarter Perrone, the MVP of 2016 Final Six, netted his only but important goal (10-8). Just after that Recco’s coach Vladimir Vujasinovic replaced an experienced goalkeeper and captain of the team from Genoa Stefano Tempesti with Goran Volarevic. Filipovic scored his 4th goal of the evening for 10-9 (04:17 to go). In a thrilling finish, the Italians didn’t manage to equalize. Filipovic had the last chance, but he hit the post (0:28 before the end). Jug kept the ball after that.
The hero of the match was Jug’s goalie Marko Bijac, the best goalkeeper at last year Champions League Final Six. On the other side, Filipovic was outstanding but it wasn’t enough for a victory.
This was the 3rd match between Recco and Jug this season. In the preliminary stage, Recco convincingly defeated Jug twice (11-8 and 9-5), but the Italians failed when it was the most important.
Jug – Pro Recco 10-9 (4-2, 2-2, 3-4, 1-1)
Referees: A. Alexandrescu (Romania) and F. Xavier Buch (Spain).Exclusions: Jug 12, Pro Recco 9. Penalty shots: Pro Recco 1 (1)
Jug: Bijac (9 saves), Macan, Fatovic, Loncar 2, Jokovic 1, Garcia Gadea 2, Markovic 1, Pavlicevic, Vrlic 1, Perrone Rocha 1, Benic 1, Obradovic 1, Popadic. Coach: Vjekoslav Kobescak.
Pro Recco: Tempesti (4 saves), Di Fulvio 1, Mandic 1, Figlioli, Molina Rios, Pijetlovic, Sukno 2, Fondelli, Ivovic 1, Filipovic 4, AIcardi, Bodegas, Volarevic (1 save). Coach: Vladimir Vujasinovic.
SF2: Prlainovic and Younger leads Szolnok to the final
The two Hungarians sides played for the 8th time this season. Before F6, Szolnok won 6 games (Hungarian Super Cup, Hungarian Cup final, 1 game in the regular season, 3 in the Hungarian play-offs). Eger was better just once in the regular season. This evening Szolnok achieved the 7th this season’s victory against the biggest domestic rival.
The second semi-final brought a very defensive game. In the first quarter, Eger gained a lead (2-1). The first goal in the second period was scored just 1:55 before the half-time when Andrija Prlainovic managed to equalise. He is most deserved for the turn because in the next Szolnok’s attack Pralinovic hit the target for a 3-2 lead. Aron Younger continued Szolnok’s series with two goals in the 3rd period and his team jumped to 5-2.
Eger came close to the big rival in the middle of the last quarter (5-4). Younger brought his team a new two-goal lead (6-4), but it wasn’t the end. Hosznansky hit from a man-up for 6-5. Andrija Prlainovic netted his third (1:38 to go) and decided everything – 7-5.
Both goalkeepers Viktor Nagy (Szolnok) and Branislav Mitrovic (Eger) staged very good performances, but Andrija Prlainovic and Aron Younger had the leading roles with three goals each. Besides them, only Crousillat was the scorer for Szolnok.
Eger – Szolnok 5-7 (2-1, 0-2, 1-2, 2-2)
Referees: Boris Margeta (Slovenia) and Vojin Putnikovic (Serbia). Exclusions: Eger 11, Szolnok 10. Penalty shots: Szolnok 1 (0).
Eger: Mitrovic (8 saves), Angyal, Decker, Cuckovic, Hosnyanszky 1, Lorincz 1, Cuk, Kovacs 1, Erdelyi, Vapenski, Bedo 1, Harai 1, Csiszar. Coach: Norbert Dabrowski.
Szolnok: Nagy (7 saves), Gocic, Crousillat 1, Vamos, Jansik, Mezei, Aleksic, Younger 3, Prlainovic 3, De. Varga, Kis, Fulop, Kardos. Coach: Sandor Cseh.
Brescia took 5th place
Day 2 opened the encounter for places 5 and 6 between Brescia and Olympiacos. Brescia beat last year’s finalists 8-5 and took the 5th place, just as in 2014.
The 1st quarter brought a lot of fire. In the middle of the period, Emanuil Mylonakis was excluded with substitution. A few minutes later Christian Napolitano received a red card too. So, from that point on, Olympiacos continued the match with 12, while Brescia had 11 players (they started with 12 because Petar Muslim was expelled from the quarter-final match against Eger for brutality).
In the second and in the third period Brescia overplayed Olympiacos. The Greeks led 2-1, 34 seconds by the end of the 1st period. But after that, they were shut out for 15:54 minutes. In the last minute of the third period, they netted for 3-6. In the last period, Olympiacos couldn’t repeat the comeback which they produced against Jug yesterday (when they come from 2-7 to 7-7). The Greeks were unable to narrow the gap to less than three goals. At the end, Brescia won 8-5.
Olympiacos – AN Brescia 5-8 (2-2, 0-3, 1-1, 2-2)
Referees:Sergey Naumov (Russia) and Matan Schwartz (Israel). Exclusions: Olympiacos 9, Brescia 7.
Olympiacos: Pavic, Mylonakis, Delakas, Genidounias 1, Fountoulis 2, Buslje, Pontiekas, Ntoskas, Mourikis 1, Kolomvos 1, Janovic, Espanol, Galanopoulos. Coach: Thodoris Vlachos.
Brescia: Del Luongo, Guerrato, C. Presciutti 2, Randjelovic, Paskovic, Manzi 2, Nora 1, N. Presciutti, Bertoli 2, Ubovic 1, Napolitano, Morreti. Coach: Alessandro Bovo
Jug – Pro Recco 10-9
Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:
“I should say, this was another amazing match. This team really knows how to prepare for this kind of matches, they play with spirit. I think, this our driving force, our fantastic spirit. This made the difference today once more. It’s a big achievement to beat Olympiacos and Recco in any order on consecutive days, just as we did last year. Now we are ready to repeat last year’s win. I do think we are capable of making it.”
Vladimir Vujasinovic, head coach, Recco:
“I think there was too much pressure on our players. We met a great team, led by a great coach and couldn’t do our best. We have to analyse what happened to us in this match as we made too many mistakes. We focused on the championship a week ago, we have three players who only take part in the Champions League matches, perhaps they would have needed more time to adjust to the heat of the matches.”
Eger – Szolnok 5-7
Norbert Dabrowski, head coach, Eger:
“It was all about man-up and man-down, as usual at this stage of the big tournaments. In fact, we wanted to play a game like this, stop Szolnok’s rush which we did well. I’m satisfied with our defending, yesterday we got 4 goals, today we got 7, though twice we were unlucky – though I usually refrain from using this word – as our excluded player already returned but still they could score from those situations. Maybe, that made the difference.”
Zoltan Kosz, assistant coach, Szolnok:
“We wrote a couple of screenplays for this match and this low-scoring version was amongst them. We started slowly, the signs showed that we were out of match-playing for a while, on the other hand Eger had a great game yesterday, had a better pace at the beginning. Thanks to our quality players we could overcome these difficulties. Defence was the key of our victory, Viktor Nagy did a great job in the goal once again. Of course, we can play much better than this and I’m sure we have to improve a lot for tomorrow if we want to reach our dreams.”
(Quotes source: LEN)
Day 1, 25 May, Thursday
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) – Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 8-11
ZF Eger (HUN) – AN Brescia (ITA) 6-4
Day 2, 26 May, Friday
For places 5-6:Olympiacos – Brescia 5-8
Pro Recco (ITA) – Jug (CRO) 9-10
Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) – Eger (HUN) 5-7
Day 3, 27 May, Saturday
15.15 Bronze medal match: Eger – Pro Recco
16.45 Champions League Final: Jug – Szolnok