None of the four semifinalists of the LEN Euro Cup earned a significant advantage in the 1st leg played this evening. Everything is open before the return matches.
Panionios beat Vasas narrowly, scoring a last-gasp goal (9:8). The Italian derby ended in a draw – Trieste – Savona 9:9.
LEN Euro Cup, semifinals, 1st leg
Panionios – Vasas 9:8 (5:2, 1:2, 1:2, 2:2)
Panionios: Gounas 4, Ntalapas 2, Bitadze 1, Kalaitzis 1, Bouzalas.
Vasas: Konarik 3, Batori 2, Dr.Brguljan 1, Randjelovic 1, Nagaev 1.
Panionios stunned Vasas with three goals within three minutes. The Greeks earned a 3:0 lead in the 6th minute. Sava Randjelovic broke Vasas’ deadlock immediately after the hosts’ third goal. Still, Panionios controlled the match, keeping a three-goal advantage. Vasas trailed 4:6 at halftime.
Bitadze found the net for 7:4 in the 22nd minute. But, the rhythm of the game was changing. Vasas started dictating the pace. The Hungarians cut the deficit to one goal just 21 seconds before the last break. Nagaev scored 6:7.
After less than two minutes of play in the final quarter, the visitors equalized. Konarik converted a man-up (7:7). But, that wasn’t the end of the visitors’ series. Batori scored from another 6 on 5 and Vasas took the lead – 8:7 with four and a half minutes before the end.
Vasas had control, but it couldn’t add a fifth goal to a row. Still, it seemed that Vasas would earn a win, as it kept an 8:7 lead until the last minute. But, veteran Alexandros Gounas, a hero of many Panionios’ wins this season, stepped up in the dying seconds. He leveled at 8:8 with 43 seconds to go. Panionios managed to defend its net in Vasas’ last attack. Everybody thought that the match would end in a draw. But, Panionios earned a man-up with just two seconds to go. Gounas beat the buzzer, scoring a winner in the last second.
Trieste – Savona 9:9 (1:2, 2:2, 4:2, 2:3)
Trieste: Buljubasic 2, Valentino 2, Mladossich 2, Inaba 1, Bini 1, Petronio 1.
Savona: Djurdjic 6, Lanzoni 1, Bruni 1, Rocchi 1.
The Italian derby was an encounter with a lot of twists and turns. Trieste had a 2-goal advantage in the fourth quarter, but Savona, with unstoppable Bogdan Djurdjic, saved a match into a draw. The fact that Trieste played with a man down for four minutes in the fourth quarter helped the visitors.
At halftime, Savona led 4:3. Trieste leveled at 4:4 and 5:5. In the 22nd minute, Bogdan Djurdjic scored from a penalty shot to give Savona a 6:5 lead. After that, Trieste’s series started. The hosts netted two goals in the last 100 seconds of the third period (Buljubasic and Valentino) for 7:6.
Buljubasic found the net once more for 8:6 (27th minute). In the next possession, Rocchi halved the deficit. But, shortly after, Trieste’s Yusuke Inaba was excluded with substitution after four minutes because of a brutality foul on Patchaliev (05:04 minutes before the end). Djurdjic converted a penalty awarded after that foul and leveled at 8:8. Trieste, still playing with five men in the field, regained a lead – Bini for 9:8. Still, Bogdan Djurdjic put an end to the drama. He leveled at 9:9 three and a half minutes before the end. In the remaining time, both teams missed several chances, including a few 6 on 5s.
The return matches are on March 22.