After a huge day of water polo, four teams have booked their tickets for the Champions League Final-4 competition.
All the teams that led heading into the second legs qualified. Mataro knocked out the reigning champions Olympiacos in an enthralling game earlier today (15-12), while Ekipe Orizzonte, eight-time winners of this competition, were more than comfortable in defeating Glyfada in Catania (15-9), sending them through to their 22nd Champions League Semi-Final.
Perhaps the best team still in the competition, Sabadell, progress to a 9th semi-final in 10 years. The only team from last season’s Final-4 to return didn’t win tonight though, as Roma were better at home, taking a 13-10 victory. Dunaujvaros will feel they have as good a chance as any to lift this title; they were pushed hard by Mediterrani today, but won comprehensively over two legs.
So with two Spanish teams, an Italian club and a Hungarian side through to the semi-finals of the Champions League, it’s the first time in five years Greece will be without representation. It’s only the second time that two Spanish sides have made it this far, with the same pairing, Sabadell and Mataro, making the Final-4 back in 2017.
CN Mataro 15 – 12 Olympiacos (AGG: 26 – 21)
Ekipe Orizzonte 15 – 9 ANO Glyfada (AGG: 29 – 22)
Dunaujvaros 9 -8 CE Mediterrani (AGG: 22 – 17)
SIS Roma 13 – 10 Astralpool Sabadell (AGG: 23-25)
Ekipe Orizzonte 15 – 9 ANO Glyfada (4-3, 5-2, 4-3, 2-1) AGG: 29-22
Ekipe: L. Celona, B. Halligan 3, C. Grasso, G. Viacava 2, V. Gant 2, D. Bettini 2, V. Palmieri, C. Marletta 2, G. Gagliardi, A. Williams 2, A. Longo 1, M. Leone 1, A. Condorelli
Glyfada: E. Karytsa, P. Ninou, T. Moustakaria, I. Wolves 2, E. Grigoropoulou, E. Ninou 3, E. Antoniadi, I. Kanellopoulou, I. Koolhaas 1, E. Fountontou 2, L. Katsioni, S. Kontogianni 1, V. Tsiara
The Champions League’s most decorated club has secured their spot in the final-four with a dominant display against Glyfada (15-9) in the second-leg. The Italian champions were in complete control throughout the match, stifling their opponents’ offensive efforts while delivering an onslaught of goals. Impressively, six Ekipe players registered two goals apiece, showcasing their depth and firepower.
It’s been a while since Ekipe Orizzonte made it to the final-four of the Champions League. Their last appearance was back in 2018, and their last triumph in the competition was a decade earlier in 2008. However, with their recent form and undeniable talent, they look poised to make a serious run at the title.
Orizzonte made a strong start, racing to a 4-1 lead in the opening quarter. Marletta got things underway with a goal, before Gant, Viacava, and Williams all followed up with impressive strikes. Despite their initial struggles, Glyfada found their footing and managed to close the gap to just one goal thanks to extra-player conversions from Fountontou and Wolves.
As the match intensified, Ekipe Orizzonte demonstrated their attacking prowess with remarkable finesse, amassing a commanding five-goal advantage on aggregate. The Italian caused Glyfada all sorts of headaches with their dominant presence on the right-hand side.
Bettini was particularly impressive, netting two goals with remarkable finesse – one with a stunningly precise lob and another in a swift counter-attack. Meanwhile, Halligan made her mark on the scoreline with a precise strike from the right-wing, while Leone tucked home a goal from the left-wing. Despite their best efforts, Glyfada’s sole outlet for any offensive threat came via the 5m penalty line, courtesy of the skilled efforts of Eirini Ninou and Stamatina Kontogianni.
The Italians received some pushback early in the second half, with Ninou and Fountontou adding more goals for the Greeks, but efforts from Viacava and Gant ensured the Glyfada comeback was short-lived. The dynamic duo of Halligan and Williams, both Australian Stingers, then produced some breathtaking strikes to extend Ekipe’s lead by five goals on the day and six on aggregate, essentially securing their spot in the final-four.
SIS Roma 13 – 10 Astralpool Sabadell (2-3, 3-3, 3-3, 5-1) AGG: 23-25
Roma: E. Eichelberger, M. Msiti, G. Galadardi 1, S. Carosi, S. Giustini 6, C. Ranalli 1, D. Picozzi 2, C. Tani, C. Nardini, L. Di Claudio, A. Cocchiere 3, A. Andrews, G. Galani
Sabadell: L. Ester, M. Ortiz, P. Leioton, S. Van der Sloot, M. Serrano, M. Steffens 1, E. Ruiz 1, M. Garcia 1, J. Forca 2, B. Ortiz 2, N. Perez 1, I. Gonzalez 2, M. Carrasco
In Rome, Roma managed to surprise Sabadell with a 13-10 win on the night. However, despite their spirited efforts, Marco Capanna’s side was unable to secure a spot in the final-4.
Heading into the game, it appeared as though the tie had already been decided, and for much of the match, it seemed as though Sabadell would emerge victorious, albeit by a narrow margin. But led by the incredible six-goal performance of Sofia Giustini, the Italians pulled an unlikely win out of the bag.
Ultimately, Roma will regret not putting up a stronger fight in the first leg, as their 15-10 loss there proved to be extremely costly in the end.
With ground to make up, SIS Roma started the duel with a good energy, but Sabadell, oozing with confidence fresh off the back of their Copa de la Reina win last weekend, had the advantage on the scoreboard.
Domitilla Picozzi and Sofia Giustini both put the hosts ahead, but a powerful strike from Maica Garcia, and confident extra-player finishes from Bea Ortiz and Irene Gonzalez, last season’s runners up were not there to mess about (3-2).
The second quarter showed more of the same, with Roma pushing but Sabadell pulling. Monetarily Roma were level on the night (4-4), but Sabadell flicked the switch, and took back the lead, with Forca and Bea Ortiz making Sabadell’s powerplays pay (6-4).
A determined Roma never gave up the ghost, and a one-man army of Sofia Giustini attempted to give Roma the victory (at least on the night). Three goals in the third pulled her team level to 6-6, 7-7, and then to within one score at 9-8. Marc Capanna’s team weren’t showing any signs of overturning the first leg result, but at the very least, they were putting up a resistance.
But as it turns out, Roma only needed a little momentum to go bang, and a dynamic last quarter swung the second leg in their favour.
Three straight goals in the last quarter (Cocchiere and Ranalli) completely changed the complexion of the game. Suddenly, Sabadell couldn’t conjure anything in attack. Maggie Steffens eventually pulled one back, but strikes inside the last two minutes from Picozzi and Galardi secured a brilliant result on the night for the Romans.
Dunaujvaros 9 – 8 CE Mediterrani (1-2, 4-2, 1-2, 3-2) AGG: 22-17.
Dunaujvaros: L. Maczko, C. Jonkl, N. Sajben, L. Dobi Dorina 2, B. Horvath 2, G. Mahieu 1, N. Szabo 1, K. Garda 3, A. Mandula, D. Kardos, R. Pal, N. Sumegi, L. Aarts
Mediterrani: I. Costa, A. Munoz 1, A. Crevier 3, A. Marcos, V. Bakoc, P. Prats, C. Espar 1, D. Moreno, M. Viladot, H. Dalmases, P. Crespi 3, S. Lizotte, G. Palm
Dunaujvaros overcame a determined Mediterrani side (9-8) in a tightly contested second leg, but helped by a first-leg cushion, they secured their spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League without complication.
Despite their best efforts, Mediterrani were unable to overturn the deficit from the first leg. Dunaujvaros may not have been firing on all cylinders, but they did just enough to emerge victorious and advance to the next stage of the competition.
Having overcome a strong opponent, Dunaujvaros will be brimming with confidence as they set their sights on the ultimate prize.
Mediterrani was fully aware of the formidable challenge that lay ahead of them as they ventured into Dunaujvaros. Despite this daunting prospect, the Spanish side began the match in impressive fashion, securing the first two scores of the game. The opening goal came courtesy of a successful 5-metre penalty taken by Paula Crespi, followed shortly after by a well-placed shot from Clara Espar that found the back of the net.
Although Brigitta Horvath managed to get Dunaujvaros on the scoreboard, Alba Munoz ensured that Mediterrani maintained their two-goal lead in the second period. However, the Hungarian side proved their mettle by pulling level at 3-3, and then again at 4-4, with the experienced Krisztina Garda scoring two penalty goals to help her team stay level in the game.
Right on the half-time buzzer, however, DFVE had their noses in front, and it was Nikolett Szabo who finished off a solid set-play for Attila Mihok’s team.
Medi remained competitive throughout the match and managed to claw back in the third period. Axelle Crevier scored two crucial goals at the start and end of the quarter, but despite levelling the score at 6-6, they were unable to make any significant progress in terms of the aggregate score.
With each passing moment, Dunaujvaros inched closer to securing a spot in the final-4, and they played with a sense of urgency befitting the stakes. The team unleashed a barrage of potent attacks, and Brigitta Horvath and Lili Dorina Dobi capitalised on extra-player strikes to put them further ahead. Although Medi fought valiantly, the damage was largely done in the first leg.
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