Pro Recco secured 1st place in Group A of the Champions League, while Olympiacos became the sixth team that has qualified for the Final Eight in Belgrade. Ortigia became the first team that is out of the race for the F8.
The third “bubble” of Group A started today in Ostia with the matches of Round 8. Pro Recco struggled but defeated Spandau 04 – 10:7. The Italians continued their winning streak, and they will remain atop the group, regardless of the results in the last two rounds.
Olympiacos and Jug shared the points – 11:11. Both sides can be satisfied with this outcome. Olympiacos secured at least 4th place, while Jug kept a 5-point distance ahead of Olympiacos.
Marseille defeated Ortigia in the last match of the day. The French made a big step towards Belgrade, while Ortigia lost all chances to advance to the Final Eight.
Today’s results – Group A: Spandau (GER) – Pro Recco (ITA) 7:10, Jug (CRO) – Olympiacos (GRE) 11:11, Ortigia (ITA) – Marseille (FRA) 7:10
Standings: 1. Pro Recco 24, 2. Jug 16, 3. Olympiacos 11, 4. Marseille 10, 5. Spandau 5, 6. Ortigia 3.
Spandau – Pro Recco 7:10 (2:2, 2:4, 2:1, 1:3)
Spandau 04: Dedovic 2, Chiru 2,Gielen 1, Cuk 1, Kholod 1 (Baksa 9 saves)
Pro Recco:Mandic 2, Figari 2, Di Fulvio 1, Younger 1, Hallock 1, Ivovic 1,Dobud 1, Luongo 1 (Bijac 5 saves).
Extra player shots: Spandau 3/6, Pro Recco 6/10.
Spandau arrived in Ostia with a decimated team. Captain Marko Stamm, Remi Saudadier are absent due to illness or injury injured, while Stefan Pjesivac is out of the team for disciplinary reasons. Several teenagers were on Spandau’s roster today, including a 15-year-old Bence Haverkampf. But, the Germans didn’t surrender easily. They have improved their shape significantly since the first “bubble” (in December, Recco beat them 19:6).
Spandau played very well in defense and kept up with Recco for more than three quarters. They equalized twice in the first half (2:2, 3:3) and didn’t let Recco build a difference bigger than two goals.
Early in the third quarter, Recco’s center-forward Ben Hallock converted a man-up for 7:4 and it seemed that the favorite had taken control. But, the Germans were able to come back. They equalized in the 25th minute (Kholod with a power-play advantage for 7:7). In the middle of the fourth period, Niccolo Figari ended Recco’s goalless phase that lasted 9:55 minutes for 8:7. The Italians finally secured the win in the last two and a half minutes. Aleksandar Ivovic scored an admirable action goal from a distance to make it 9:7, while Aaron Younger closed the match with a power-play goal with 62 seconds remaining on the clock.
Still, Spandau players deserve praises. Today’s performance boosted their (slim) hopes they can reach the Final Eight.
Jug – Olympiacos 11:11 (4:3, 0:3, 4:4, 3:1)
Jug AO: Merkulov 4, Fatovic 2, Benic 2, Loncar 1, Papanastasiou 1, Obradovic 1 (Popadic 11 saves).
Olympiacos: Genidounias 5, Daube 2, Skoumpakis 1, Argyropoulos 1, Dervisis 1,Chrysopathis 1 (Zerdevas 9 saves).
Extra player shots: Jug 4/10, Olympiacos 2/3. Penalty shots: Jug 1/1, Olympiacos 1/1.
In December, Olympiacos led 5:2 in the match against Jug in the first “bubble”, but the Croats recorded a 9:8 victory.
Today, Jug started better. The Croats, which played without captain Xavi Garcia, who stayed home due to an eye injury, took an early 2-goal lead (2:0, 3:1). They were still in front at the end of the first period (4:3).
Olympiacos, led by Konstantinos Genidounias, produced a great comeback, with three unanswered goals in the second period – 6:4. The Greeks took control, and they increased the margin to three in the middle of the third quarter (9:6). Papanastasiou scored for7:9 in the 20th minute. But, Konstantinos Genidounias responded shortly after that with a goal from a penalty shot for 10:7.
Then, Jug tightened its defense and kept the Greeks scoreless for seven minutes. In the 26th minute, Merkulov found the net from a long distance and leveled the score – 10:10. Three minutes from the end, referees awarded a penalty throw for Jug, after a VAR check (Olympiacos’ bench asked a time out at the moment when the ball was in Jug’s possession). Loren Fatovic made no mistake, he sent the ball into the net from the 5m line and the Croats went in front – 11:10. Still, it was the end of Jug’s 4:0 series. Olympiacos reacted well. Just 30 seconds later, Stylianos Argyropoluos scored from an extra player attack for 11:11. Both teams had chances to score a winner in the last two and a half minutes, but there were no goals and the big rivals shared the points.
Ortigia – Marseille 7:10 (0:3, 4:2, 1:3, 2:2)
Ortigia: Napolitano 2, Ferrero 1, Gallo 1, Mirarchi 1, Rossi 1, Vidovic 1 (Tempesti 7 saves
Marseille: Prlainovic 2, Crousillat 2, Kovacevic 2, Spaic 1, Vernoux 1, Djurdjic 1, Vukicevic 1 (Lazovic 10 saves=
Extra player shot: Ortigia 5/10, Marseille 5/9. Penalty shots: Ortigia 1/1, Marseille 1/1
Marseille took a flying start. After less than five minutes, Marseille led 3:0. But, the French missed many nice chances in the following minutes. Still, their defense was superb in the first quarter and a half. The Sicilians finally broke the deadlock in the 12th minute (Ferrero scored with a power-play advantage). A minute later, Rossi converted a man-up, too, and Ortigia was back in the game (2:3). Marseille regained a 2-goal lead (4:2, 5:3), but Ortigia responded after each of the two goals and trailed 4:5 at halftime.
Valentino Gallo opened the third period with a goal from the penalty shot and leveled the score (5:5). Marseille found its rhythm again shortly after that goal. They scored three goals in three minutes (Vukicevic, Crousillat, Kovacevic) and went 8:5 up.
Ortigia was a better rival in the final eight minutes. The Sicilians reduced the gap to two (6:8) and had several nice chances, but Marseille’s defense, commanded by Dejan Lazovic, was on a high level.
In the last two minutes of the game, Montenegrins Bogdan Djurdjic and Vladan Spaic scored a goal each within 55 seconds. Marseille gained a 10:6 advantage with 77 seconds to go, and all was decided.
Group A (Ostia), Day 9
15:15 Ortigia – Jug Dubrovnik
17:45 Marseille – Spandau 04
20:15 Pro Recco – Olympiacos
Group B (Budapest), Day 8
14:00 Ferencvaros – Waspo Hannover
16:30 Jadran Herceg Novi – Dinamo Tbilisi
19:00 Barceloneta – Brescia