It’s most likely that the final of this season’s LEN Euro Cup will be the Hungarian derby.
The first matches of the semifinals were played today. OSC defeated Vouliagmeni 10:7 in the first semifinal in Budapest.
Another Hungarian club in the semis, Szolnok made a bigger step towards the finals. Szolnok, the 2017 European champion, defeated Crvena Zvezda, which won the Champions League in 2013. The match turned into a festival of goals. Szolnok recorded a 20:12 victory.
OSC – Vouliagmeni 10:7 (4:2, 3:0, 2:3, 1:2)
OSC: Csacsovszky 2, Erdelyi 2, Salamon 1, Toth 1, Burian 1, Bundschuh 1, Harai 1, Manhercz 1.
Vouliagmeni: Gouvis 2, Troulos 1, Afroudakis 1, Chalyvopoulos 1, Lozina 1.
OSC started very well. Midway through the first quarter, the hosts already had a 3-goal lead (4:1), but the Greeks reduced the gap before the end of the quarter. Early in the second period, the Hungarians regained a 3-goal advantage (5:2). That was followed by a lot of missed chances on both sides of the pool. In the 14th minute, Salamon found the net for 6:2. Just 25 seconds before halftime Balasz Erdelyi finished a counter-attack with a goal for a huge 7:2 advantage.
But, after the middle break, OSC couldn’t keep up the momentum, and the Greeks managed to reduce the gap, and they keep their hope alive before the return leg. Step-by-step, Vouliagmeni was narrowing the distance. They trailed 5:9 before the final quarter, and cut the deficit to three in the 29th minute when Gouvis converted a man-up (6:9), Marton Toth responded immediately for 10:6. Still, OSC will have only a 3-goal advantage before the return leg, because Luka Lozina found the net to set the final score 19 seconds before the end.
Crvena Zvezda – Szolnok 12:20 (1:4, 5:6, 2:6, 4:4)
Crvena Zvezda: Tankosic 3,Subotic 2, Basara 2, Vukicevic 1, Sulc 1, Smiljevic 1, Radovic 1.
Szolnok: Schmolcz 4, Drasovic 3, Pijetlovic 2, Kovacs 2, Konarik 2, Filipovic 2, Angyal 2, Szeghalmi 1, A.Nagy 1, Teleki 1.
Szolnok got off to a flying start in Belgrade. Former Crvena Zvezda’s player Radomir Drasovic scored two opening goals. Schmolcz added one, and the visitors led 3:0 in the fifth minute. They maintained a 3-goal distance until the first break. The Serbs fought hard and tried to keep close to the rival as much as possible. They trailed two or three goals in the second quarter. But, Szolnok netted two goals in 46 seconds and built a 9:4 lead in the 14th minute. Crvena Zvezda didn’t give in and responded with two goals from extra player shots for 6:9 with just 20 seconds before the end of the first half. But, Serbia’s center-forward Dusko Pijetlovic closed the second quarter. He beat the buzzer. Pijetlovic converted a man-up in the last second to give Szolnok a 10:6 advantage before the second half of the game.
The Hungarians controlled the match. The visitors definitively broke the Belgrade-based team in the third quarter, and doubled an advantage to 16:8.
The fourth quarter was balanced. Both attacks worked well, while the defenses were far from a high level, and Szolnok secured a big 20:12 lead before the match in Hungary.
Neither Szolnok nor Crvena Zvezda wasn’t satisfied with what they showed this evening.
“I have to be satisfied with the outcome, as we earned an 8-goal advantage before the return leg. But, I can’t be happy with our play. However, my players are exhausted. They have had a lot of hard matches in the past few weeks, including a game against OSC in the Hungarian League three days ago. Therefore, I couldn’t expect them to provide 120 percent of their abilities. All in all, the result is essential. We made a big step towards the final, and we are closer to the trophy. I congratulate Crvena Zvezda. The semifinal is a great success for their young team. I wish them all best in the Serbian League”, Szolnok’ coach Zivko Gocic told Total Waterpolo.
Szolnok’s and Serbia’s goal-getter Filip Filipovic
“Too many goals were scored in this match because defenses didn’t work well. There were just a few blocked shots. We entered the slow rhythm of the game and didn’t play as we could and should play. But, we achieved a goal with a consecutive win.”
Crvena Zvezda’s captain Milos Vukicevic:
“I congratulate Szolnok, but I am not satisfied with our performance. We were far from our best. Nothing worked well. It just wasn’t our day. I think we could put stronger resistance to the favorite. Our defense was bad, we blocked not enough shots, and our goalkeeper faced a complex task because of that.”
SEMIFINALS, RETURN LEG: April 10, 2021
FINALS: April 24 and May 8, 2021