Three old-timers and a rookie
The second legs didn’t see any upset in the quarterfinals: teams having achieved promising results three weeks ago all made the Euro League Final Four tournament. Four clubs from four nations will compete for the trophy, including three ‘old-timers’ (Spain’s Sabadell, Greece’s Olympiacos, Russia’s Kinef) and a rookie (Hungary’s UVSE) – but no Italians: this happens only for the second time since 1993.
The clash between Kinef (RUS) and Vouliagmeni (GRE) brought the toughest battle of the day. The Russians gained a single goal advantage in Athens but the Greeks fought hard in the return match, led 2-1 after the first half. However, the hosts hit back in the second, doubled their lead by the end of the third (7-5) and froze the gap till the end. Kinef will return to the Final Four after 2013 and try to win the title at last after losing five finals – while 2009 and 2010 winner Vouliagmeni will miss the grand occasion for the second time in seven years.
The other Greek side, LEN Trophy title-holder Olympiacos (GRE) enjoyed a much better day as they beat Szentes (HUN) in the away game as well. The Hungarians tried to deliver their very best to produce a miracle after falling four goals behind in Piraeus but the visitors didn’t let them get rolling. Szentes could never lead with two goals and when they started to risk it didn’t pay off as finally the Greeks earned a huge win and will return to the Final Four after 2011.
Since 1993 Italy has always had at least one team in the season ending tourney (Italian clubs won the trophy 9 times, a record), this run was halted in 2013 for the first time and it happened again this season. Their two entrants faced a kind of mission impossible on Wednesday, though. Padova was soundly beaten at home in the first leg by Hungary’s new stellar side, UVSE (by 6 goals) and the Hungarians did a perfect job in Budapest as well. They led 8-3 after three periods and the Italians could get only some consolation in the fourth. UVSE will be a newcomer in the Final Four – in fact this is their first season in the international stage, but with their strengthened line-up this marching is not that surprising.
Mediterranea (ITA) made the comeback of the season against Sabadell (ESP) in the first leg, saving the game to an 8-8 tie after being 4-8 down with five minutes to go. But in Spain the title-holder didn’t give any chance for their rivals, it was close only for eight minutes, then Sabadell went 6-2 up by half-time and never looked back. The Spanish can retain their title which they won three times in the past four years.
Women’s Euro League, Quarterfinals, 2nd leg
Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) vs. Vouliagmeni (GRE) 8-6
Hungerit-Szentes (HUN) vs. Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10-15
UVSE-Central (HUN) vs. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 9-7
CN Sabadell (ESP) vs. Mediterranea Imperia (ITA) 13-5
Winners will play in the Euro League Final Four, to be held 24-26 April
Losers will play in the LEN Trophy Final Four, to be held on 10-12 April
The result of the draw and the hosts of the tournaments will be announced on 17 March.