The best European teams didn’t make mistake on Day 5 of the Europa Cup. All favorites recorded victories.
Before the last round (March 12th), seven teams secured their spots at the Europa Cup Final Eight tournament, that will be played in Zagreb (April 5th-7th): Hungary (Group A), Greece, Spain (Group B), Italy, Montenegro (Group C), Serbia and Croatia (Group D).
Russia and Germany (Group A) are eyeing the last available ticket for the final tournament.
The Europa Cup is also the European preliminary competition for the World League Super Final. The 4 best teams from the Europa Cup Final Eight will qualify for the Super Final, which will be held in Belgrade. Serbia is, as a technical host, already qualified for the Super Final, so if the Serbs don’t reach at least the 4th place in Zagreb, only medal winners in the Europa Cup will go to the World League Super Final.
Hungary cemented the 1st place in the group, as it defeated Russia in Gyor. The Russians scored the first goal, but after that, the hosts ruled the field. By the middle of the second quarter, Hungary built a 5-goal gap (6:1). The Russians came back with three straight goals. The visitors trailed 4:6 in the 20th minute. The ending of the third period proved vital in the Hungarian’s win. The home side entered the last period with a 9:5 advantage. Then came a new three goals in a row from the Russian players. They were very close (8:9) with 03:39 minutes remaining on the clock. Tamas Sedlmayer decided everything by converting a man-up for his third goal and the final score – 10:8.
There was no surprise in the other match in this group. Germany beat Malta in Gzira (19:8). The home side kept with the Germans for 10 minutes. Early in the 2nd period, Malta was just one goal behind (4:5), but the hosts didn’t manage to equalize. Germany dominated in the remaining time for an 18:9 victory.
The battle for the 2nd ticket for the Europa Cup Final Eight is still open. Russia holds the 2nd place, with two points more than Germany. In the last round, Germany will host Russia.
Greece and Spain convincingly defeated their respective rivals and they booked their places at the Final Eight.
Greece faced The Netherlands in Amersfoort. The Dutch started pretty well. At halftime, the visitors had a slim 6:5 advantage. But, after a 5-minute break, Greece tightened its defense, while it kept a nice rhythm in attack and recorded a 12:6 victory.
Spain had no mercy against last-placed Ukraine in Barcelona. Several Spanish stars missed the match, but the runner-up at the 2018 European Championships and the silver medalist in the 2018 Europa Cup was too strong for Ukraine – 17:2.
Spain and Greece share the 1st and the 2nd place, but the Spaniards have better result in a head-to-head contest. Spain beat Greece 7:4 in Athens last month, while Greece celebrated a 7:5 win in Barcelona in October,
In the last round, Greece travels to Ukraine. Spain will host the Netherlands.
Italy collected three points visiting Marseille, but the Italians found it hard to beat France. The visiting team came without a captain Figlioli, Renzuto, and Iodice. Italy controlled the game, but the French didn’t surrender easily. The teams were tied deep into the second quarter (3:3). Early in the third quarter, the best scorer Gonzalo Echenique (three goals) pulled Italy to 5:3, but the hosts responded (5:4). By the end of the third quarter, Italy doubled an advantage (6:4) for the final result. There were no goals in the last eight minutes.
Italy secured the 1st place, Montenegro will finish the group stage in the 2nd place, while France, which travels to Montenegro next month, can’t move from the 3rd place.
Serbia easily defeated Romania in the match played in Subotica – 13:6. Only two 2018 European gold medal winners played in this game (goalkeeper Gojko Pijetlovic and Dusan Mandic). On the other side, a few key Romanian players missed the match (Radu, Negrean). A young home team had no problems. The hosts earned their first 5-goal lead (6:1) in the 13th minute. Deep into the third period Serbia jumped to a 10:3 advantage and maintained the difference until the end. Left-handed goal-getter Dusan Mandic was the best scorer and the MVP of the match.
In the last round, Croatia and Serbia will clash in Sisak. That match will decide the run for the 1st place. Romania ended the competition.
EUROPA CUP GROUP STAGE (EUROPEAN WORLD LEAGUE PRELIMINARIES), DAY 5
Malta 9:18 Germany
(3:5, 3:4, 1:5, 2:4)
Malta: J. Camilleri 4, Muscat 3, Zammit, Grixti.
Germany: Thom 4, Rotermund 3, Gotz 2, Restovic 2, Kuppers 2, Korbel 2, Reibel, Jungling, Preuss.
Hungary 10:8 Russia
(4:1, 2:2, 3:2, 1:3)
Hungary: Sedlmayer 3, Varga 2, K. Manhercz, Vamos, Nemet, Erdelyi, Batori.
Russia: Kharkov 3, Merkulov 2, Kholod, Lisunov, Shepelev
1 Hungary 5 – 14
2 Russia 5 – 9
3 Germany 5 – 7
4 Malta 5 – 0
Netherlands 6:12 Greece
(3:3, 2:3, 1:3, 0:3)
Netherlands: Lindhout 2, Nispeling 2, Koopman, Winkelhorst.
Greece: Fountoulis 4, Vlachopoulos 2, Genidounias, Papanastasiou, Argyropoulos, Mourikis, Kolomvos, Gounas.
Spain 17:2 Ukraine
(1:0, 5:1, 4:1, 7:0)
Spain: Barroso 5, Sanahuja 4, Asensio 2, Paul 2, Cabanas 2, Corbalan, De Toro,
Ukraine: Mametyev, Dyadyura.
1 Spain 5 – 12
2 Greece 5 – 12
3 Netherlands 5 – 6
4 Ukraine 5 – 0
France 4:6 Italy
(1:2, 2:2, 1:2, 0:0)
France: Vernoux 2, Rocchietta, Crousillat.
Italy: Echenique 3, Fondelli, Di Somma, N. Presciutti.
1 Italy 4 – 10
2 Montenegro 3 – 5
3 France 3 – 0
Serbia 13:6 Romania
(3:1, 4:1, 4:2, 2:2)
Serbia: Mandic 3, Drasovic 2, Lukic 2, M. Jankovic 2, Vucinic, Stojanovic, Velkic, Lazic.
Romania: Gheorghe 2, V. Georgescu, Prioteasa, Dragomirescu, Oanta.
1 Serbia 3 – 8
2 Croatia 3 – 7
3 Romania 4 – 0