Euro League Final Four took place on April 28-29 in Kirishi, Russia. In its eleventh appearance in Final Four, Kinef water polo team managed to win the trophy after triumphs over Mataro and Olympiacos. The 2015 champion Sabadell finished third.
OLYMPIACOS JOINS KINEF IN FINAL AFTER PENALTY SHOOTOUT
The first semifinal match saw a complete supremacy of Kinef over Mataro. In the first quarter, Kinef water polo players scored three consecutive goals to achieve an advantage which was not easy for their rival to overcome. They increased their lead to five before the break (9:4). Even though the hosts lifted their foot off the gas, Mataro water polo players couldn’t find a way back into the game. They won both third (2:3) and fourth (0:1) quarter, but only managed to bring down the deficit to three. Kinef advanced to the final match with 11:8.
Sabadell and Olympiacos went through a real drama at the swimming pool in the second semifinal. After more than five minutes without goals, Smit opened the scoresheet for Olympiacos. Domenech soon netted the first for Sabadell and the first quarter was tied. The title holder proved too strong in the second quarter leaving Olympiacos scoreless for 5:1 at halftime. However, the 2015 champion woke up in the third and returned four goals. Due to the only goal netted by Forca, Olympiacos had a one-goal advantage before the final period. In the fourth quarter, Ortiz quickly increased it to two, but the Greeks were unable to save the advantage and the regular time ended in a draw.
Olympiacos water polo players did not miss any penalty shot. Bianconi, Avramidou, Emmolo and Manolioudaki were successful and led their team to the final match. On the other side, Ortiz and Forca managed to score for Sabadell, but Neushul and Espar missed the shot. Sabadell had to prepare for a 3rd place battle.
CONSOLATION BRONZE FOR SABADELL
The bronze medal game was a clash of two Spanish water polo teams determined to win this one. Title holder Sabadell had to compete for 3rd place for the first time after playing in the final four consecutive years, while Mataro water polo players dreamed of ending their first Final Four with a medal.
Sabadell demonstrated its authority leaving Mataro scoreless in the first quarter (3:0). Tabani the increased the lead to four in the second quarter, but Mataro water polo players woke up. Gibson and Bach stroke back for 4:2 at halftime. Mataro even took over the lead after three consecutive goals in the third quarter. Judith Forca netted an equalizer for Sabadell and made it 5:5 before the last quarter.
In the end, experience prevailed, and Sabadell scored two unanswered goals in the fourth quarter to win the bronze.
KINEF WINS FIRST EURO LEAGUE IN HISTORY
Kinef water polo players were highly motivated to finally win the Euro League in front of the home crowd and controlled the final game from the very beginning. They opened the match with three consecutive goals netted by Ryzhkova, Prokofyeva, and Ivanova. Asimaki then scored the initial and the last one in the first quarter for Olympiacos. Kinef went on to increase the advantage to three after the extra-man situation when Ivanova managed to find the net for 4:1.
In the second quarter, Olympiacos water polo players stepped up their defense and managed to bring down the deficit to one with goals from Eleftheriadou and Plevritou. Kinef had the last word in the second period as Simanovic gave her team a two-goal lead at halftime (5:3). Both teams played a balanced third quarter in which Olympiacos missed a chance for a draw after falling behind by one again thanks to Avramidou’s goal. Cautious Kinef kept the two-goal advantage in the third quarter when Glyzina found the goal with around four minutes left on the clock.
Neither Kinef nor Olympiacos managed to score for almost three minutes in the final period. Prokofyeva scored goal number seven for the Kirishi team making it harder for their rival to keep hoping. Plevritou netted her second and Emmolo also found the net to make it 6:7 around one minute before the end. Yet the 2015 champion failed to tie the result and ultimately won the silver medal. Kinef water polo players gave a brilliant performance playing their 11th final in 13 years and won their first Euro League in history.
Euro League – Final Four (Kirishi, Russia)
Semifinals (April 28)
Kinef-Surgutneftegas vs. La Sirena Mataro 11:8 (5:2, 4:2, 2:3, 0:1)
Kinef scorers: Zubkova (2), Prokofyeva (4), Kurochkina (1), Krimer (1), Glyzina (2), Kirilcheva (1)
Mataro scorers: Dance (2), Bach (1), Meseguer (3), Lopez (2)
CN Sabadell vs. Olympiacos Piraeus 9:11 (1:1, 0:4, 4:1, 2:1 – 4:2)
Sabadell scorers: Ortiz (4), Domenech (1), Forca (4)
Olympiacos scorers: Manolioudaki (1), Avramidou (3), Emmolo (1), Plevritou (1), Bianconi (3), Smit (2)
Bronze Medal Match (April 29)
CN Sabadell vs. La Sirena Mataro 7:5 (3:0, 1:2, 1:3, 2:0)
Sabadell scorers: Tabani (1), Garcia (2), Domenech (2), Forca (2)
Mataro scorers: Bonamusa (1), Gibson (2), Bach (1), Meseguer (1)
Final (April 29)
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Kinef-Surgutneftegas 6:7 (1:4, 2:1, 1:1, 1:2)
Olympiacos scorers: Plevritou (2), Eleftheriadou (1), Avramidou (1), Asimaki (1), Emmolo (1)
Kinef scorers: Prokofyeva (2), Simanovich (1), Glyzina (1), Ivanova (2), Ryzhkova (1)