Eger takes huge step towards historic first F6
Eger (HUN) was the big winner of the round as its main rivals in the hunt for the last remaining berth – Olympiacos (GRE) and Radnicki (SRB) – both lost, so the Hungarian champion is on its way to a historic first appearance in the Final Six. In Group B the three-horse race for the top spot narrowed to two as Jug (CRO) failed to win in Istanbul.
With Recco (ITA) already having clinched the top spot and Barceloneta (ESP) enjoying a granted berth as host of the Final Six, only one spot remained on offer in Group A, but before Day 8 all the other four clubs had a chance to grab it. But this round cut the field: Brescia is out and Olympiacos is on the verge to bid farewell its Final Six dreams. Radnicki is still in the hunt but trails by four points to Eger (HUN).
The Hungarians won a crucial game against Brescia (ITA), thanks to their goalie, Branislav Mitrovic who came up with a very special performance: his saving percentage was 78%. The Serb’s 18 saves was paired some outstanding offensive play in front, resulting the decisive win.
Barceloneta came from behind (2-5) to beat Radnicki: the title-holders scored two goals in the last 64 seconds to break the deadlock after 7-7. Olympiacos did its best to end Recco’s magnificent march, the Greeks netted 4 connecting goals to take a 5-3 lead in the second period and was still 7-6 up before the final period. But Recco saved the best to the last quarter, destroying the hosts with 6 action goals.
In Group B Jug Dubrovnik produced a minor miracle by scoring twice in the last 21 seconds and saving the game to a tie against Galatasaray (TUR). The Turks, especially their Serbian-Montenegrin phalanx did a fine job this time, seemed the winner at 12-10 with 46 seconds to go, but Jug somehow climbed back to 12-12. However, by dropping two points Jug is out of the race for the top spot – though their Final Six berth is not in danger.
The battle for the first place is down to Szolnok (HUN) and Rijeka (CRO): both sides collected the three points in their respective away matches. The Croats didn’t leave any doubt who were the better side in Berlin, home of Spandau (GER). The Hungarians, led by Denes Varga (5 goals), had some headaches at the beginning in Belgrade as Partizan rushed to a 4-0 lead in five minutes, but Szolnok switched gears and responded with a 1-9 rolling and secured a calm finish to the match. Now they enjoy a 3-point lead and if the next round brings the expected results, they will have a showdown against Primorje in Rijeka on the last day of the prelims.
Prelims, Day 8
ZF Eger (HUN) vs. AN Brescia (ITA) 10-5
Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 9-7
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) vs. Pro Recco (ITA) 8-12
1. Recco 24, 2. Eger 13, 3. Barceloneta 11, 4. Radnicki 9, 5. Olympiacos 7, 6. Brescia 5
Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB) vs. Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) 7-13
Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) vs. Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO) 5-15
Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) vs. Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 12-12
1. Szolnok 21, 2. Rijeka 18, 3. Jug 16, 4. Partizan 6, 5. Spandau 6, 6. Galatasaray 4
The next round will be played on 18 April (Saturday).
9 April 2015