Apollon Smyrnis (Greece) or Terrassa (Spain) will be the first-ever winner of the LEN Challenger Cup.
The two teams advanced to the final with victories in the return leg of the semifinals. Apollon demolished Tenerife (Spain) at home – 18:8. The Spaniards had a one-goal advantage before the first leg (11:10), but that lead disappeared quickly.
Terrassa beat Turkish Enka in both encounters. Today, Terrassa recorded a 10:8 win in Istanbul. In the first match, the Spaniards celebrated a 15:12 victory.
Neither Apollon nor Terrassa has played in the final of a LEN competition so far. The final games are on April 15 and 29.
LEN Challenger Cup, semifinals, 2nd leg
Apollon Smyrnis – Tenerife 18:8 (6:1, 3:3, 5:2, 4:2) – first leg 10:11
Apollon Smyrnis: Bogdanovic 4, Gardikas 4, Goniotakis 3, Solanakis 3, Chondrokoukis 2, Alamanos 1, Mokkas 1.
Tenerife: Salvador 3, Keuning 2, Mercado 1, Gonzalez 1, Alegre 1.
After a close battle in the first match, something similar in the game in Athens was expected. However, the Greeks killed all the suspense quickly. By the seventh minute, they built a 5:0 lead. Tenerife got on the scoreboard only 33 seconds before the first break, but Alamanos gave the hosts a 6:1 lead just nine seconds before the buzzer.
Each side scored three goals apiece in the second quarter. Tenerife couldn’t catch up with the Greeks. In the remaining 16 minutes, the home team, led by Nikola Bogdanovic and Nikolaos Gardikas, doubled the advantage earned in the first eight minutes.
Enka Istanbul – Terrassa 8:10 (2:3, 2:2, 3:3, 1:2) – first leg 12:15
Enka Istanbul: Ozbek 3, Obradovic 3, Alkan 2.
Terrassa: Flores 5, Alarcon 2, Delgado 1, De Lera 1, Chico 1.
Enka never caught up with Terrassa and equalized the aggregate score. The hosts fought hard but didn’t take the lead in the return leg. Terrassa had a slim advantage most of the time and held back all Enka’s comeback attempts.
Early in the second quarter, Flores gave Terrassa a 2-goal lead for the first time (4:2). In the following minutes, Enka equalized four times (4:4, 5:5, 6:6,7:7). In the 24th minute, Delgado scored from a 6 on 5 to give the visitors an 8:7 advantage. The Turkish side missed a man-up in its last possession in this quarter.
Still, the close battle continued. But, Terrassa’s Alarcon netted two back-to-back goals midway through the fourth quarter. Terrasa went to 10:7 with 03:19 remaining on the clock. After that, Enka just reduced the gap.