Champions League, Prelims, Day 7 Summary
Huge step for Olympiacos, Jug holds Recco on 5 goals
Olympiacos Piraeus took a huge step towards the Final Six as the Greeks beat one of their main rivals, Barceloneta (ESP) quite convincingly. Still, the race is pretty close with three rounds to go in Group A. In the other group Jug Dubrovnik (CRO) and Pro Recco (ITA) played an extraordinary match which saw a single goal in the entire second half and a draw at the end.
In the big game of Day 7 Olympiacos (GRE) took a flying start against Barceloneta (ESP), led 3-0 after the first period and the Greeks managed to maintain this gap till the end. In fact, they were 8-2 up early in the third period so they could survive a late scare in the fourth when their key-player, Giannis Fountoulis was ejected for 4 minutes but the Spaniards could only score twice in this period. Olympiacos won 9-5 and went 4 points clear ahead of their main rivals, Barceloneta and Primorje (CRO) in the race for the F6 spots.
Primorje won easily against Spandau (GER) 14-4, so they are in the hunt again the next round will be crucial as they will play Olympiacos in Rijeka. Final Six host Eger (HUN) has been running a successful campaign so far to secure a berth on their own right, their next win came against Jadran (MNE). Sometimes the Hungarians struggled against the bottom placed Montenegrins who played a really effective, disciplined water polo but Eger prevailed at the end (8-7).
Unlike in the first match when Recco blew away Jug in December (14-6), the game in Dubrovnik brought a tremendous fight. Defences were at their very best, especially the Croats did a fantastic job as holding Recco on 5 goals requires extraordinary efforts. Jug just achieved that: Recco was unable to score in the entire second half (and only once in the last 20:53 minutes) as the hosts denied them in 8 man-ups! The other end saw some unusual scenes as well, Jug missed two penalties but managed to convert a third one early in the fourth. That was the only goal in the second half, the sides shared the points in this unusually low-scoring match (5-5). This favours the title-holders, however, since Recco plays with the three lower ranked teams in the remaining rounds while Jug has to travel to Szolnok (HUN) next.
The Hungarians, in the meantime, enjoyed a fine afternoon as they scored a series of spectacular goals to entertain the home crowd in the game against Galatasaray. The Turks were good partners for the show, they also netted a couple of great goals. Szolnok finally tied Jugs single game scoring record for this season with 16 goals, Denes Varga offered another teaser of his unique skills as he hit 5.
Fellow Hungarians, OSC Budapest reserved the mathematical chance to catch up the top three sides as they slowly downed the young Partizan (SRB) side in the middle two periods. Early in the second the hosts were 2-4 down but led 9-6 before the last period and won 10-8 at the end. This means they are trailing 6 points with three rounds to go but the Magyars face a mountain to climb as they play with the top three on the last three game days
Champions League, Day 7
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v CN Barceloneta (ESP) 9-5
ZF-Eger (HUN) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) 8-7
Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 14-4
1. Olympiacos 15, 2. Eger 14, 3. Barceloneta 11, 4. Primorje 11, 5. Spandau 3, 6. Jadran 2
Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA) 5-5
Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) 16-7
A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB) 10-8
1. Recco 16, 2. Jug 16, 3. Szolnok 15, 4. OSC 9, 5. Partizan 6, 6. Galatasaray 0