Olympiacos survives this visit to Budapest
Olympiacos (GRE) and Szolnok (HUN) are still on even points in the race for the top spot in Group A after both staged outstanding performances in the fourth periods in their respective away games. In Group B, Recco (ITA) earned its sixth win in as many matches while Eger (HUN) bounced back against Barceloneta (ESP), just as title-holder Jug (CRO) which scored a load of goals in Hannover and retook the second place.
The only defeat Olympiacos suffered in the past one and a half years happened in Budapest – in the final, last May (lost to Jug, CRO). Now the Greeks returned to the Hungarian capital for another crucial contest, this time against OSC (HUN). For a while the group leader seemed to enjoy a safe journey as they led 2-6. However, the Magyars came closer and closer, shut out Olympiacos for 11:40 minutes and managed to level the score during this phase. With 5:51 to go they stood 6-6 but the Greeks showed their strength and netted the next two goals. OSC pulled one back for 7-8 with 49 seconds remaining on the clock, and had a last possession for 19 seconds but the final shot wasn’t on target.
Brescia (ITA) had an easy game against Nice (FRA), after 4-3 they netted four connecting goals before the middle break and never looked back. At the end it was 13-4 and now the Italians hold a 3-point advantage over OSC in the hunt for the third qualifying spot.
As for the first place, Szolnok (HUN) kept up with Olympiacos by winning in Berlin. Spandau (GER) did a splendid job as they kept last year’s bronze medallist team under pressure for most of the time. Though Szolnok led 5-7 in half-time, the Germans produced a 2-0 third period to begin the last period on even terms (7-7). However, more was left in the tank at the Hungarian champion’s side, Szolnok scored four straight goals in 3:46 minutes to gain another win (8-12).
In Group B, Recco (ITA) offered a less focused performance against Partizan (SRB) than ten days ago when they blew the young Serbs away in Belgrade (5-17). This time Partizan fought bravely, trailed only 7-6 shortly before the last break. Then, in the fourth, Dusan Mandic, former captain of Partizan, scored twice for Recco to build a comfortable gap. In the end a 4-1 rush in the final period gave the sixth straight win for the Italians (12-7).
Title-holder Jug (CRO) took their trip to Hannover (GER) much more seriously after the stunning 15-15 draw in Dubrovnik in the last round. The decisive moments came late in the second period, after 5-6 the Croats scored four brilliant action goals in a span of 2:06 minutes and Hannover never recovered from that shock. At the end Jug stopped at 17 goals and could celebrate a huge win.
The most crucial encounter of the day saw a tremendous fight between Eger (HUN) and Barceloneta (ESP). The Hungarians grabbed their last chance to stay in the hunt and took revenge for their 10-6 defeat in Barcelona. In fact, they were close to score a same big win, led 9-6 before the last period but at 10-7, with two minutes to go, they missed a penalty and that almost cost them the win. The Spaniards netted two goals in 32 seconds for 10-9 and even had 13 seconds to save a point but couldn’t net another one. Now Eger holds a single point lead in the classification – the excitements are guaranteed in the remaining four rounds.
Champions League, Day 6
AN Brescia (ITA) v Olympic Nice (FRA) 13-4
A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 7-8
Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) 8-12
1. Olympiacos 16, 2. Szolnok 16, 3. Brescia 10, 3. OSC 7, 5. Spandau 3, 6. Nice 0
ZF Eger (HUN) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) 10-9
Pro Recco (ITA) v Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB) 12-7
Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 10-17
1. Recco 18, 2. Jug 11, 3. Eger 9, 4. Barceloneta 8, 5. Hannover 3, 6. Partizan 1
For play-by-play action and detailed stats in both competitions, visit the LEN website (www.len.eu).
18 February 2017