Two rounds before the end of the preliminary competition in the LEN Champions water polo league, the list of participants of the final tournament is almost complete. Title-holder Jug achieved an important victory in the 8th round and joined Pro Recco, Szolnok, and Olympiacos at the Final Six in Budapest.
Two horse race for the 1st place in Group A continues. Szolnok and Olympiacos are tied on the top of the group. Both teams won 22 points each.
In 8th round Szolnok hosted Brescia. The Italians started better and led 3-2 in the second quarter. The Hungarian team, pushed by Andrija Prlainovic, scored three consecutive goals in a span of 3:10 minutes and turned around a 2-3 deficit to a 5-3 lead. That was the score at half-time. At the start of 3rd period Brescia came close once more (5-4), but in the remaining 14 minutes, the defense of Szolnok was superb. The Hungarians achieved the 9-4 win.
Brescia didn’t surprise Szolnok, but the players of the 2016 Euro cup winner, don’t have to be disappointed because their main rival for the 3rd place in Group A OSC took only one point in the clash against Spandau in Budapest. OSC led 4-1, the Hungarians were on a good way to victory, but the Germans started climbing back. Before the last quarter, OSC had a 5-4 lead. The Serbian Nikola Dedovic netted the equalizer, 2:33 by the end, for the final score 5-5. This point doesn’t mean a lot to Spandau, but complicates the position of OSC. The Hungarians had a chance to make a big step to Final Six, but they are still behind Brescia, which has two points more.
Olympiacos beat the newcomer Nice 12-8. The Greeks, led by Ioannis Fountulis, earned a 4 goal lead in the first half (7-3). In the third and in the fourth period they were keeping the advantage.
The big derby in the next round, in which Olympiacos will host Szolnok can decide who will take the top spot.
In group B all eyes were on Dubrovnik, where title holder Jug met Barceloneta. The home team led 4-1 in the second quarter and 6-3 at half-time. The guests pulled away in the third period scoring four goals in a row for a 7-6 lead. But, Jug turned the score in the last two minutes of the third quarter and before the final period, the water polo players from Dubrovnik had a minimal advantage (8-7) and added one more goal in the 2nd minute of the 4th quarter. But, that wasn’t the end of a drama. Barceloneta, the winner of the 2014 Champions league, netted two consecutive goals in the middle of this quarter, to equalize again (9-9). Jug secured the all three points in the last two and a half minutes. Javier Garcia netted 3rd time in the match. Fatovic followed him for an 11-9 lead. Munariz scored 35 seconds by the end, but that was too late, Jug saved all three points (11-10).
Pro Recco beat Eger and locked up the first place in Group B, so they are going directly to the Champions League semi-final. The Italian champion didn’t show a brilliant performance, but their win wasn’t in question. The home team, coached by legendary Vladimir Vujasinovic, had a 5-1 lead in the second quarter and kept advantage till 4th period. Aleksandar Ivovic netted for a 9-4 final score, with 3:20 remaining on the clock.
The spectators at Banjica pool in Belgrade saw the encounter between the rivals, which don’t have chances to go through. Partizan hosted Hannover and managed to achieve the first win this season. The Serbians moved from the last place, on which is Hannover now. Partizan took a flying start and led 6-1 (23 seconds by the end of the first period) and 9-4 at half-time. The curiosity is that the young players of Partizan scored eight action goals and just one from the penalty shot. In the first half they had only a single extra men attack, which was saved by Kong. After the third period, the score was 12-7. It is interesting that Partizan led 12-7 in the game in Hannover, too, but the Germans saved a point in the last five minutes (12-12). Partizan today didn’t let Hannover come back and celebrated a 13-9 victory.
Olympic Nice (France) – Olympiacos (Greece) 8-12 (1-3, 2-4, 2-1, 3-4)
Olympic: Izdinsky 2, Monneret 2, Hansen 2, Bruyere, Cakic.
Olympiacos: Fountoulis 5, Genidounias 3, Mourikis 2, Kolomvos, Janovic.
Szolnok VSK (Hungary) – AN Brescia (Italy) 8-4 (2-2, 3-1, 1-1, 2-0)
Szolnok: Prlainovic 3, Gocic, Crousillat, Vamos, Kis, Fulop.
Brescia: Rizzo, Muslim, Nora, Paskovic.
OSC Budapest (Hungary) – Spandau 04 (Germany) 5-5 (1-1, 3-1, 1-2, 0-1)
OSC: Seman 2, Zalnaki, Kovacs, Salamon.
Spandau: Stamm 2, Dedovic, Restovic,Gielen.
1. Szolnok 8 – 22
2. Olympiacos 8 – 22
3. Brescia 8 – 11
4. OSC 8 – 9
5. Spandau 8 – 4
6. Nice 8 – 0
Jug (Croatia) – Barceloneta (Spain) 11-10 (2-0, 4-3, 2-4, 3-3)
Jug:Garcia 3, Markovic 2, Vrlic 2, Perrone 2, Jokovic, Fatovic.
Barceloneta: Munnariz 4, S. Rasovic 3, V. Rasovic, Tahull, Minguell.
Pro Recco (Italy) – Eger (Hungary) 9-4 (3-1, 2-1, 1-1, 3-1)
Pro Recco: Di Fulvio 3, Sukno 2, Molina, Pijetlovic, Ivovic, Mandic.
Eger: Cuk 2, Kovacs, Vapenski.
Partizan (Serbia) – Waspo Hannover (Germany) 13-9 (6-2, 3-2, 3-3, 1-2)
Partizan: Drasovic 4, Tanaskovic3, Repanovic 2, Lukic, Lazic, Stojanovic, Jankovic.
Hannover: Brguljan 5, Winkelhorst 2, Bukowski, Sekulic.
1. Pro Recco 8 – 24
2. Jug 8 – 17
3. Eger 8 – 12
4. Barceloneta 8 – 8
5. Partizan 8 – 4
6. Hannover 8 – 3