The Euro Cup semi-finals for women’s water polo proved to be just as captivating as the Champions League fixtures, with two intriguing results unfolding today.
Ferencvaros returned from their arduous journey to Italy, securing a hard-fought 12-9 win over Padova. Given the notoriously challenging nature of Padova as an away venue, Fradi will be extremely happy, and will undoubtedly relish the opportunity to finish the job on home turf in Budapest.
Meanwhile, the highly-anticipated all-Hungarian semi-final first leg between UVSE and Eger did not disappoint. The closely contested game resulted in a fair 12-12 draw.
Plebiscito Padova 9 – 12 FTC Telekom (2-4, 3-3, 4-3, 0-2)
Plebiscito: L. Teani, L. Barzon 4, V. Valyi, G. Citino 1, E. Queirolo, A. Casson, A. Millo, S. Dario, H. McKelvey 2, C. Meggiato, S. Centanni 2, B. Cassara, C. Giacon
FTC: B. Neszmely, E. Millot, Z. Mate 2, G. Gurisatti 1, P. Pocze 2, T. Farkas, D. Leimeter 1, A. Illes 1, S. Kuna 2, P. Petik, D. Toth-Csabai 1, D. Domsodi 1
Ferencvaros have emerged victorious in an impressive fashion, dispatching their Italian counterparts Plebiscito 12-9 in their first-ever European semi-final encounter.
The Hungarians displayed patience and poise in their attack, exploiting their opponents’ ill-discipline to stunning effect. A whopping ten of their twelve goals came via power play opportunities, a testament to their meticulous planning and execution.
Despite the overwhelming win, it would be premature to dismiss Plebiscito’s chances of a comeback just yet. However, the mammoth task at hand for the Italians cannot be understated. Fradi is in red-hot form, boasting an impeccable home record that has seen them remain undefeated for a considerable period of time. It will take a superhuman effort from the Italian side to overturn such a deficit in Budapest.
Greta Gurisatti opened the scoring with a swift strike early on, setting the tone for a frenetic encounter. Panna Pocze and Szonja Kuna piled on the misery for the visitors, converting two powerplay chances to establish a commanding 3-0 lead. Plebiscito fought back with two quickfire goals, courtesy of Laura Barzon and Sara Centanni, but Fradi maintained their lead heading into the second quarter.
Plebiscito began the second period brightly, drawing level at 4-4, and then 5-5, thanks to the efforts of Citino, McKelvey, and Barzon. However, their poor discipline cost them dearly, conceding two goals in quick succession, with Dora Leimeter netting an extra-player effort. The Hungarians held a two-goal lead at the interval, with their sights firmly set on extending their advantage.
The second half saw Fradi assert their dominance, pulling away to a 10-7 lead, with Plebiscito struggling to find a way back into the game. Laura Barzon’s brace kept the Italians’ hopes alive, but Fradi refused to take their foot off the gas. A resolute defence kept their opponents at bay, while Zsuszanna Mate and Panna Petik added two more goals to their tally.
Who knows, Panna Petik’s last-gasp extra-player conversion could prove to be the difference in the second leg, as Fradi looks to seal their place in a first European final. Plebiscito has a mountain to climb, but with the talent at their disposal, a comeback cannot be ruled out entirely.
ZF Eger 12 – 12 UVSE (3-2, 3-2, 4-5, 2-3)
Eger: A. Kiss, P. Jancso 1, I. Borsi 2, R. Parkes, D. Molnar 1, Z. Katona, E. Weston 1, D. Czigany 1, B. Kekesi, F. Bodi, C. Szellak, D. Szilagyi 6, M. Dulic
UVSE: A. Magyari, T. Aubeli 1, E. Macsai 2, P. Tiba 3, G. Szucs, E. Varro, V. Baksa 1, K. Farago 2, P. Szegedi 1, Z. Lendvay, R. Irmes, K. Peresztegi-Nagy 2, S. Golopencza
Nothing is settled between Eger and UVSE, as the two Hungarian rivals fought-out an exciting 12-12 draw at Bitskey.
There is no doubt that Dorottya Szilagyi was the show-stopper, with a double hat-trick in the game. Eger looked like they might run and hide with the victory during the third quarter, but fast forward to the last minute, and UVSE looked like they would be the ones to take a slight advantage into the second leg in two weeks time.
The visitors missed two penalties on the night, the significance of which, in a game of such fine margins, is yet to be felt. Eger would have hoped to take some sort of advantage to Alfed Hajos, so UVSE might be the slightly happier of the two teams.
While Eger had a 3-2 lead after eight minutes, UVSE looked threatening. Both of Ujpest’s goals came via centre, one culminating in Kamilla Farago’s penalty, before a beautifully executed scoop from Tekla Aubeli. Dorottya Szilagyi, however, came up clutch with two scores to give her team an advantage (3-2).
Szilagyi continued in the same vein into the second quarter. Two more scores gave the hosts a two-goal lead at the break (6-4). Marton Benczur’s side found good goals from range by youngsters Macsai and Tiba, but they trailed at the turnaround.
In the third, Eger’s lead became three for the first time, which could have spelled danger for UVSE, and when Panni Szegedi saw her 5m penalty saved by Alexandra Kiss, Eger might have gone for the jugular. But the Lilacs stayed focused, and well-taken goals from Panna Tiba, Kamilla Farago and Eszter Macsai on the buzzer put the teams within one goal once more (10-9).
Into the final exchanges, Ilona Borsi netted her second of the game for 11-9, but three straight scores, which featured a wonderfully precise brace from Peresztegi-Nagy, and UVSE were on the cusp of taking a single lead back to Alfred Hajos. Kiwi Eve Weston, however, caught Alda Magyari off guard at the short post, to wrap the game at a fair 12-12 draw.
The two teams meet again in the league next weekend, before the second leg the week after that.
Follow all the action from the Women’s Euro Cup