The title-holder rolls on
Both Hungarian sides, title-holder Ferencvaros and newcomer Miskolc reached the quarter-finals, just as Italy’s Verona and Croatia’s Jadran Split. It was a weekend full of excitements, last-grasp goals, great comebacks.
Ferencvaros maintained its clean sheet in the Euro Cup qualifications. After the Magyar club earned six wins in as many games in the first round, it added three more victories this weekend while playing at home in Budapest. The Hungarians netted 148 goals in nine matches so far and they seem to be ready for retaining their title – with their current line-up they would be a serious contender even in the Champions League.
In this group the goal-difference decided the second qualifying spot since Mataro (ESP) and Jadran Split (CRO) tied their encounter (8-8). The Spaniards came from behind as they trailed by two before the fourth period but managed to equalise 47 seconds from time. Mataro finished with a –6 difference and Jadran needed a minimum 8-goal win over Primorac (MNE). The Croats finally made it, in the last period they could build the necessary gap at 7-15. Primorac pulled one back twice, but Ante Viskovic’s shot with 0:01 from time sent Jadran through as the 17-9 victory meant they also had a –6 goal difference but scored more goals than Mataro in the three matches.
The other group saw even more thrills. Miskolc, also top-finisher in the first qualifying round, had two consecutive matches tied on the first two days. The Hungarians led 9-5 against Verona (ITA) and were still 11-8 up in the fourth but missed a penalty 53 seconds before the end at 11-10 and Stefano Luongo’s goal 6 seconds from time saved the match to an 11-11 draw. The same happened to Miskolc next day when they led 6-10 early in the final quarter but host Paix d’Aix (FRA) managed to make a comeback in a thrilling 11-goal last period, scoring for 13-13 with 0:02 remaining on the clock. However, the Hungarians didn’t let it go, beat Shturm (RUS) 11-9 to secure the second QF berth behind Verona which thrashed the Russians and the French as well.
In the quarter-finals, the four advancing teams will be drawn against the four losing sides of the third round in the Champions League qualifications.
Euro Cup, Qualifications, Round II
Group A (Aix-en-Provance)
1. BPM SM Verona (ITA) 7, 2. Miskolci VLC (HUN) 5, 3. Pays D’Aix Natation (FRA) 4, 4. Shturm2002 Ruza (RUS) 0
Group B (Budapest)
1. PSQ-Ferencvaros (HUN) 9, 2. Jadran Split (CRO) 4 (28-34), 3. CN Mataro (ESP) 4 (21-27), 4. Primorac Kotor (MNE) 0
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