Tenerife edged out Apollon Smyrnis (11:10) in the first leg of the LEN Challenger Cup semifinals. A 37-year-old veteran Albert Espanol scored a winner with 10 seconds to go.
The other match of the 1st leg, Terrassa – Enka Istanbul, is rescheduled for Thursday evening.
2022/23 LEN Challenger Cup, semifinals, 1st leg
Tenerife – Apollon Smyrnis 11:10 (1:3, 3:1, 4:3, 3:3)
Tenerife: Alegre 4, Espanol 3, Diaz 1, Mercado 1, Salvador 1.
Apollon Smyrnis: Gardikas 4, Solanakis 3, Chodroukoukis 1, Alamanos 1.
Apollon got off to an excellent start. The Greeks jumped to a 3:0 in the first five minutes, but Tenerife was able to come back. The hosts were coming closer and closer. Tenerife leveled at 3:3 early in the second period. Gardikas scored for Apollon’s new lead, but Espanol set the final score of the first half in the 13th minute – 4:4.
The teams exchanged goals in the third period, but Tenerife controlled the results. The hosts took a one-goal lead three times, and the Greeks equalized on each occasion, but they had no response after Salvador made it 8:7 six seconds before the last break.
Tenerife doubled its advantage to 9:7 in the 27th minute and 10:8 a minute later. Still, the Greeks caught up with the hosts. Fifty seconds before the end, Gardikas equalized with a power play advantage – 10:10.
Still, the Spaniards had the last laugh. They earned a penalty shot with 10 seconds to go. Albert Espanol took responsibility and sent the ball into the net for 11:10.
The return matches are on March 22.