Exciting matches, draws, wins obtained in the last seconds highlighted the second weekend of the Champions League qualifications. The two Italian and two Hungarian sides are all through, and one representative apiece from Germany, Croatia, Montenegro and Romania can await the draw for the third and final stage.
The Italy v Hungary duels in Group E and Group F saw the Italians capturing the respective top spots and the Magyar teams coming second. Verona (ITA) managed to edge out Eger (10-9), the game-decider came 51sec from time as the visitors staged a great comeback, winning the last period 1-4. On the following day the Hungarians had some struggle against Mornar (CRO) but with a 5-0 rush in the fourth they secured their berth in the last stage.
In Group F, last season’s main round participant OSC Budapest (HUN) faced a live-or-die situation against Brescia (ITA), a loss would have eliminated them while a win would have placed them atop. It ended a draw, sending OSC to the second position, as the host Italians could save the match to a tie with a last-grasp goal. This was the second 11-11 tie for the Hungarians who also shared the points with Sintez (RUS) despite leading 8-4 at halftime.
In Group G the outcome couldn’t have been any more thrilling, it ended in a three-way tie. Based on the results obtained against each other, Hannover (GER) went through in the first place, a bit surprisingly, while host Jadran Carine (MNE) clinched the second place, ahead of Vouliagmeni (GRE).
Primorje Rijeka (CRO), runner-up two years ago, captured the first place as expected at home, beating both Romanian sides and going down against Sabadell (ESP) on the last day in a match without anything at stake. The Spaniards staged one of the greatest comebacks of the weekend against Steaua (ROU), earning a point with a 0-4 stunner in the last period, however, this wasn’t enough as Oradea beat them and later overcame their home arch-rivals. Ironically, Steaua is the champion in Romania but the runners-up managed to reach the final round of the qualifications.
In the last phase, the current group winners will be paired against the runners-up and the four winners of the home-and-away contests will earn the available berths in the main round. The draw is to be held on Monday, at the LEN Headquarters in Nyon.
Champions League, Qualification Round II
Group E (Eger)
1. SM Verona (ITA) 9, 2. ZF Eger (HUN) 6, 4. CN Marseille (FRA) 3, Mornar Split (CRO) 0
Group F (Brescia)
1. Brescia (ITA) 7, 2. OSC Budapest (HUN) 5, 3. Sintez Kazan (RUS) 4, 4. Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 0
Group G (Herceg Novi)
1. Waspo Hannover (GER) 6, 2. Jadran Carine (MNE) 6, 3. Vouliagmeni (GRE) 6, 4. Duisburg (GER) 0
Three-way tie-break (goal differences): Hannover +1, Jadran: +1, Vouliagmeni –2
Group H (Rijeka)
1. Primorje Rijeka (CRO) 6, 2. DiGi Oradea (ROU) 6, 3. CN Sabadell (ESP) 4, 3. Steaua Bucuresti (ROU) 1
Euro Cup, Qualification Round I
No major casualties in the opening round of the Euro Cup qualifications: both Italian (Posillipo, Canottieri), Hungarian (FTC, BVSC) and Croatian (Mladost, POSK) participants reached the next phase respectively, joined by a Spaniard (Terrassa) and a French (Pays D’Aix Natation) side.
Two battles stood out, both were played for the first place. In Group B, FTC managed to beat POSK Split 13-12 in a thrilling encounter after leading throughout the match. The Croats never gave up but couldn’t equalise at the end.
The other big game was staged between Canottieri and BVSC in Group C, the Hungarians held the lead from the beginning, the Italians went up only once, at the very end of the match (9-8) and finished first, thanks to that win.
Group A (Aix-en-Provence)
1. Mladost Zagreb (CRO) 7, 2. Pays D’Aix Natation (FRA) 4, 3. Montpellier (FRA) 2, 4. Shturm 2002 (RUS) 2
Group B (Budapest)
1. FTC Budapest (HUN) 6, 2. POSK Split (CRO) 3, 3. Bayer Uerdingen (GER) 0
Group C (Kosice)
1. Canottieri Napoli (ITA) 9, 2. BVSC-Zuglo (HUN) 6, 3. Primorac Kotor (MNE) 3, 4. Hornets Kosice (SVK) 0
Group D (Napoli)
1. Posillipo Napoli (ITA) 9, 2. CN Terrassa (ESP) 6, 3. Kinef Kirishi (RUS) 3, 4. OSC Potsdam (GER) 0
The first two seeded teams went through from each group. The next round will see two groups of fours.
Source: LEN media release.