Novi Beograd made another big step towards its second title in the Serbian championships.
Novi Beograd convincingly defeated Serbian Cup winner Crvena Zvezda 13:8 in the first match of the final.
However, the final score doesn’t mirror the difference between the two teams’ performances. The game was very interesting and the two teams were in a neck-and-neck race for a long. Novi Beograd led for most of the time, but Crvena Zvezda kept up with the favorites until the finish of the third quarter. Only a goal separated the rivals in the 24th minute (6:7). In the following few minutes, Novi Beograd made a 4:0 series and went to 11:6. The hosts maintained a 5-goal difference until the end.
2022/23 Serbian League, playoffs, finals (best-of-three), Match 1
Novi Beograd – Crvena Zvezda 13:8 (3:2, 3:3, 3:1, 4:2)
Novi Beograd: Filipovic, S.Rasovic 2, Martinovic, Granados 4, Vucinic, Pijetlovic 1, Drasovic 1, N.Jaksic 2, Cetkovic 1, Vlachopoulos, Skoumpakis 1, V.Rasovic 1, Pedro, Shushiashvili. Head coach: Gocic.
Crvena Zvezda: Misovic, Tankosic 2, Gajic, Markovic 1, Subotic 1, Vasic 2, B.Banicevic, Basara, M. Vukicevic, Seman 1, Milojevic, Radovic 1, Ivanovic, Gavrilovic. Head coach: Filipovic.
From the beginning, Crvena Zvezda started showing that it deserved a spot in the final. The visitors took a 1:0 and 2:1 lead. Still, at the finish of the first quarter, Alvaro Granados netted two back-to-back goals from counterattacks, and the hosts turned around a 1-goal deficit to a 3:2 lead. In the 11th minute, Viktor Rasovic converted a man-up and two goals separated the rivals for the first time – 4:2. Still, Crvena Zvezda caught up with the favorite with two quick goals from Radovic and Tankosic – 4:4. Novi Beograd regained a 2-goal advantage a minute before the middle break when Nikola Jaksic handled well in a difficult position and made it 6:4. But, Crvena Zvezda had the last word in the first half. Six seconds before the buzzer, Lucas Seman found the net from a rebound and halved the deficit (5:6).
In the early stage of the third quarter, the teams exchanged goals. Strahinja Rasovic made it 7:5, Dusan Markovic responded immediately for 6:7. After that, the defenses were up to the task and there were no goals for a while.
Crvena Zvezda created more good opportunities to score in the third period, but Novi Beograd’s goalkeeper Joao Pedro (12 saves today) did a good job in this period. Novi Beograd earned a crucial advantage. First, Granados scored from a 6 on 5 for 8:6. Crvena Zvezda lost the ball in its last possession in the quarter. Novi Beograd started counter attack, which was finished by Granados. The Spaniard scored his fourth goal in the match to give Novi Beograd a 3-goal lead for the first time (9:6).
Nikola Jaksic opened the fourth period with a nice goal for 10:6. Shortly after, center-forward Cetkovic made it 11:6 and Crvena Zvezda couldn’t recover from that 4:0 series. Novi Beograd had a 6-goal lead at the finish (13:7), but Gavril Subotic set the final score.
The next match is scheduled for next Wednesday. In the meantime, Novi Beograd will play against OSC in Budapest in the Champions League. The game is already on Friday.
Novi Beograd’s center-forward Dusko Pijetlovic commented:
“We played calmly throughout the match and didn’t have the ups and downs that we had in many matches this season. I am happy because we kept the same level of play for the entire match. I hope we will play the same way until the end of the season. We controlled the game and our quality made the difference.
Crvena Zvezda’s Dusan Vasic said:
“We were in the game for almost three quarters, but we lost concetration at the finish of the third period and at the beginning of the fourth and that was crucial. We conceded a goal from a counter-attack in the dying seconds of the third quarter. We let Novi Beograd score an action goal early in the fourth and we couldn’t come back. We still have to work to improve our power-play attacks.
3rd-place playoffs (best of three), Match 1
Radnicki – Partizan 8:10 (2:2, 1:2, 3:1, 2:5)
Radnicki: Stanojevic 2, Kojic 2, Jankovic 1, Cuk 1, Ukropina 1, Draskovic 1.
Partizan: Milos 4, Gladovic 2, Dimitrijevic 1, Smiljevic 1, Giga 1, P.Jaksic 1.
Partizan is very close to returning to the Champions League qualifications after defeating Randicki in the first match of the bronze-medal playoffs.
The visitors led 4:3 at halftime. But, Radnicki, which played without injured Josip Vrlic and Luka Pljevancic, took control after the middle break and entered the final period leading 6:5. The Kragujevac-based side doubled its advantage. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Radnicki was two steps ahead of Partizan (8:6). But, Partizan, led by Lovre Milos, produced a 4:0 run in the last four minutes and opened the series for 3rd place with a 10:8 victory.