Two goals in the last three seconds, Mladost forces a tie with Recco
Mladost ended Recco’s 24-game winning streak as managed to force an 11-11 draw in an incredible finish which saw one goal apiece in the last three seconds. This pushed the two Hungarian greats to the top positions as both Ferencvaros and OSC staged scoring festivals. Marseille earned its first win in the League in a tight encounter against Hannover.
HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA) 11-11, FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v CN Terrassa (ESP) 17-11, Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) 8-14, CN Marseille (FRA) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) 8-7
Standings: 1. OSC 9, 2. FTC 9, 3. Recco 7, 4. Mladost 4, 5. Terrassa 3, 6. Marseille 3, 7. Hannover 0, 8. Tbilisi 0
An incredible finish halted Recco’s outstanding 24-game winning march in the group stage. What’s more, in Zagreb at several points the Italian giant was in trouble as Mladost led for most of the time and seemed to have a realistic chance to beat the top favourite.
The Croats switched to top gear right from the beginning and their rivals found it hard to cope with that intensity. They were less aggressive and less effective at both ends while the home players always found the way to score so they led 6-5 at halftime and doubled the gap early in the third for 7-5. Recco’s ‘world selection’ managed to change the level of their play and responded with three goals before the last break while gaining control.
Mladost wasn’t done, however, a fine man-up goal brought them back to level and soon a converted penalty gave them back the lead for 9-8. Francesco di Fulvio put away a 6 on 5 for 9-9, then Recco got another man-up but missed that, still, their Croatian centre-forward Niksa Dobud netted one from action for 9-10. They could have gone two goals up but missed their next extra while Milos Cuk found the back of the net with 1:31 remaining. The capacity crowd went wild as some heroic defending from Mladost denied four shots of Recco within one possession and there were still 25 seconds to play after a time-out.
A turnover foul with 7 seconds to go gifted the Italians a last chance and after their time-out they made the most of it as Dobud forced a penalty and Dusan Mandic converted it for 10-11 with 3 seconds on the clock. Recco seemed to have got it at the end – but it wasn’t the end. After the re-start the Croats got a free-throw in their own half, Cuk had a try, the ball was blocked and dropped to the water around 7m, but a foul on the shooter led to an exclusion and according to the new rules the ball didn’t need to go back. Cosmin Radu recognised the opportunity, grabbed the ball and sent it to the net – the Romanian just beat the buzzer and saved a point for Mladost.
The other two favourites were not entangled to such a battle. Though Tbilisi took a dream start in its historic first-ever home game in the Champions League as they stunned OSC with a 3-0 opening and were still ahead at 4-2 early in the second period. Then the Hungarians settled themselves and started rolling. It was a tough response indeed, a 0-11 run, they shut out the Georgians for 18:58 minutes. Dinamo could score in the fourth at 4-13 and managed to add some more goals to make the finish a bit more enjoyable for their enthusiastic fans.
The other Hungarian club, FTC-Telekom needed four minutes to go 4-0 ahead and that determined the rest of the game. Terrassa could only chase the title-holder and they seemed to be also aware of the inevitable. Still, at some stages the home side’s defence loosened up a bit and the Spaniards could stay close for a while. They could have cut the gap to two goals late in the third but Soma Vogel stopped Alberto Macarro’s penalty – on the contrary, Marton Vamos buried one at the other end at the beginning of the fourth for 12-8 (though 11-9 was also in the cards a bit earlier) and the Magyars staged a 6-goal surge in the final period.
In the duel of the pointless sides Marseille managed to snatch their first win in the League. With some fine defending, the French built a 5-2 lead till halftime but Hannover had a better spell and climbed back to 5-4 (it was a Montenegrin battle between Marseille’s goalie Milos Scepanovic and Hannover’s top shooters). The visitors then had a man-up to go even but a miss cost them dearly, as two fast counters in 31 seconds set back the three-goal difference before the last period. Again, the Germans could close the gap but at 7-6 a nice goal from the centre by Alexandra Camarasa closed down the contest, Ivan Nagaev’s extraman goal came too late for Hannover as only 18 seconds remained.