Ethnikos Piraeus of Greece are one step closer to securing what would be their second LEN Trophy in the club’s history after a significant 12-8 away victory in Dunaujvaros. Antigoni Roumpesi’s side were well worth the win, and take a four goal lead back to Athens for the all-important second-leg (30th March).
The visitor’s scores came via the two Haralabidis sisters (two apiece), a Ioulia Anna Kontoni brace and three finishes from Alkistis Christina Benekou. For the Hungarians, Greta Gurisatti, Brigitta Horvath and Krisztina Garda were all on target twice.
There was a lot of quality on show, with both sides fielding big players. However, it seemed that Ethnikos’s expansive recruitment last summer payed dividends tonight – particularly in the goalkeeping department with the addition of Ashleigh Johnson, who was in typically reliable form.
There is no denying that Dunaujvaros have a mountain to climb in a few days time, but again, stranger things have happened than a team overturning a four goal margin. Dunaujvaros have much experience at this level of continental competitions, and they will need it all if they are to add to their trophy cabinet.
That said, Ethnikos have a lot about them – they have unbelievable quality in all the right places and a strong spine to their team have helped them defend really well this season. With the home advantage, it would be pretty hard to look past them securing this season’s LEN Trophy
Dunaujvaros 8-12 Ethnikos Piraeus (2-2, 3-4, 1-3, 2-3)
Dunaujvaros: L. Maczko, D. Szilagyi 1, N. Sajben, G. Gurisatti 2, B. Horvath 2, G. Mahieu 1, N. Szabo, K. Garda 2, A. Mucsy, L. Somogyvari, R. Pal, C. Szellak, S. Buis
Ethnikos: E. Sotireli, K. Ioannou 1, I. Haralabidis 2, E. Elliniadi, I-A. Kontoni 2, R. Parkes 1, F. Chatzikyriakaki 1, A-K. Benekou 3, M-S Rakintzi, S. Haralabidis 2, L-A Benekou, V. Bakoc, A. Johnson
The game was as competitive as one would expect for a European Cup Final, with the scores level throughout much of the first half.
However, Karolina Ioannou’s extra-player conversion with 14 seconds to go in the 2nd period put the Blue and Whites a goal ahead going into the next quarter.
From there, there was trouble for Dunaujvaros as Ethnikos began to pull away; Ioanna Haralabidis gave the Greeks a two goal lead for the first time, before her older sister, Stefania, made it 8-5 from the 5m penalty line. It then got worse for Attila Mihok’s Dunaujvaros, as Anna Muscy was excluded, Ioulia Kontoni took full advantage.
Into the fourth, Ethnikos continued to add to their lead, and two sucker punch goals within a minute for Ethnikos courtesy of Foivi Chatzikyriakaki and Ioulia Kontoni really put them in the ascendency at 11-6.
Two from Greta Gurisatti may have spurred her side to cut the the deficit more, but Rebecca Parkes finally made her presence known on the scoresheet to give Ethnikos a potentially historic win at the Eva Fabo Swimming Pool.