LEN PR 30/2015
Women’s Euro League, Final Four, Athens – Summary
Olympiacos clinches trophy in front of 2000 fans
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) won its second European title in as many years: the Greeks clinched the LEN Trophy in 2014 and now the Euro League. They edged out title-holder Sabadell (ESP) in a thrilling final, becoming the second team in history whose men’s and women’s teams could win the most prestigious club tournament respectively. Kinef (RUS) bettered UVSE (HUN) for the bronze medal.
The semifinals already saw tremendous battles. Olympiacos and Kinef entered the final period with 7-7 on the scoreboard but the Greeks managed to stage a fine finish, thanks to their Italian star, Roberta Bianconi who did an outstanding job by scoring 6 goals. The Russians came back to 9-8 with 2:16 to go, but the hosts withstood the pressure and Bianconi secured their win with 10 seconds from time (10-8).
In the other SF Hungarian newcomer, UVSE-Central tried to catch up with Sabadell and they could do it for a while. The Spaniards – winning three of the last four editions – built a three-goal lead before the middle break but UVSE kept coming back, they were trailing 5-7 early in the fourth. But finally Sabadell broke their rivals and the last minutes were just cruising for them (6-11).
Next day Kinef got some consolation in the bronze medal game which brought a flood of goals (26 altogether) and great excitements as the lead changed constantly. The last period the Russians could jump to a two-goal lead and they maintained it until the end (14-12) – though it might have been a bit disappointing that they couldn’t make it to the top on their 9th try in the Final Four.
The final was simply fantastic. Sabadell started in a commanding way, they led 4-1 in the second quarter but Olympiacos, backed by 2,000 enthusiastic fans, scored twice in 47 seconds before the middle break. The first turning point came in the third period, when Olympiacos netted three connecting goals after 5-3 and took the lead for the first time at 5-6 and later went to 6-8, thanks to brilliant goals from their Aussie player, Ashley Southern (she hit 4 in the evening).
However, Sabadell wasn’t done, the title-holder showed their strength and with a double from Jennifer Pareja in the fourth they were ahead again at 9-8. Few would have guessed that the Spaniards would not score any more in the remaining 5:14 minutes. But the Greeks’ defence worked well, after Triantafyllia Manolioudaki equalised, Olympiacos denied two 6 on 5s of Sabadell and it was Manolioudaki again who found the back of the net in the last moments of a man-up with 33 seconds to go. It proved to be the game-winner – bringing the Euro League title to Olympiacos after a LEN Trophy win in last year.
The Greek club has also become the second European team in history whose men’s and women’s side has clinched the top honours in continental water polo: Recco (ITA) achieved this feat earlier, while the female team of Olympiacos reached the top 13 years after the men’s triumph in the Champions League.
Haris Pavlidis, head coach of Olympiacos:
“This trophy is not the biggest prize: we won against an unbeatable team who hadn’t lost in the last three years! I told my girls that if we don’t win today, Sabadell might remain unbeaten for another three years. We expected this kind of match since we lost by 9-8 in Barcelona in the Super Cup in November. Today we were stressed at the beginning, but soon found mental strength and played with a clear mind. Two years ago, when we lost the championship title against Vouliagmeni, I declared my belief that soon we were going to be on top in Greece and in Europe. Today is our day!”
Dimitris Diathesopoulos, President of Hellenic Swimming Federation
“It is a great success, coming in a difficult and unpleasant situation for Greek society. Our sports are the great ambassadors abroad, our athletes keep the Greek flag always on top!”
Filio Manolioudaki, scoring the last two goals
“I just kept the focus in the last minutes, I couldn’t think anything else under this pressure. This is a huge success for the club! I won’t forget these moments in my whole life and I hope that God will help me live many more!”
“Nani” Guiu Vidal, head coach of Sabadell
“Congratulations to Olympiacos. I was told that coach Pavlidis made some fine comments on our team and I would like to thank him this. It was a quite tough game and small details made the whole difference. Unfortunately we lost.”
Jelena Smurova, assistant coach of bronze medallist Kinef:
“We are satisfied with today’s match, but definitely not fully happy with our place in this Final Four. We came to Greece with a plan to win the Euro League Trophy for the first time in our history, but unfortunately we lost the semifinal against Olympiacos and our target remained out of reach once more. Though, we will keep fighting for it in the near future.”
Marton Benczur, Team Manager of UVSE:
“Kirishi is clearly a more experienced team and this is the main reason for their victory. We played well, but when you concede 14 goals it is impossible to win such a game. Looking beyond the 4th place, our presence in this event is a great success and gave a lot of experience for us. We will try to be again in a Final Four next year. Congratulations to Olympiacos for the tournament’s organisation and for staging this marvellous festive of European water polo.”
Euro Leauge, Final Four – Athens (GRE)
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) vs. Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) 10-8
UVSE-Central (HUN) vs. CN Sabadell (ESP) 6-11
Bronze Medal Game
Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) vs. UVSE-Central (HUN) 14-12
Euro League Final
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) vs. CN Sabadell (ESP) 10-9