Plebiscito are Europe’s third best team after a well-earnt, but hugely confusing, 11-6 win over UVSE. In what is perhaps a big shock, UVSE played well in large parts of the match, but Padova somehow found the composure to win, with some unbelievably clinical finishing in the last quarter.
Laura Barzon was the best scorer with 5 goals, 4 of which were in the last period. She had a top top game, alongside her national team mate Elisa Queirolo and her Russian counterpart Mariia Borisova.
Last year’s Bronze medallists did not play badly for most of the game. They were a little wasteful, but they could not have foreseen how the dynamic of the game would turn on its head. For large parts of the first half, Padova couldn’t even muster a decent shooting opportunity, let alone score.
UVSE led by 5-4 just before the end of the third, but a Elisa Queirolo goal with a second to go at the end of the 3rd really damaged UVSE psychologically.
At the end of the game, you could see how heartbroken some of the UVSE players were. In contrast, the Italians were in ecstasy; UVSE were wondering how they hadn’t won, and Plebiscito were wondering how they had.
Its easy to say, but UVSE have such a young team, and when they didn’t make the most of their advantage when they were on top, they were punished.
However, take nothing away from Stefano Posterivo’s side – who enjoyed a snatch and grab performance today. Like yesterday against Sabadell, they have a real tendency to stay in matches, and then make the most of what comes their way in offense.
Neither side would have wanted to be playing in this match, but the intent and determination to start well in the game was evident. In the first period, Plebiscito took a 2-0 lead, but UVSE had much more of the ball, and eventually worked their way back to a parity.
Not much changed in the period tactically, although Plebiscito Padova found it really hard to attack with any purpose. The frequency in which they created was not high, and when they did get a shot away, it was from a position of weakness. The only goal they scored in the period was from an extra-player situation. However, for all that UVSE dictated the play, they did not punish Padova on the scoreboard.
The third period was edgy to say the least. The game became much more even and open, and Plebiscito found a way to get back to a level-pegging on the scoreboard.
Two early goals in the 4th period really put UVSE under pressure, as the side from Budapest really looked rattled. It was after this that the Italians pulled away. It has to be said, they way they were shooting was sublime. UVSE could not do anything about some of the goals that Laura Barzon and Mariia Borisova were putting away.
The Italians scored five in a row, and UVSE started to get desperate, so much so that UVSE’s keeper was instructed to join the attack, a strategy that was punished by Laura Barzon as she scored from her own 6m.
UVSE 6- 11 Plebiscito Padova (2-2, 2-1, 1-2, 1-6)
UVSE: A. Magyari, S. Koka, D. Abel-Antal 2, L. Forgacs, G. Szucs, R. Keszthelyi-Nagy, K. Hajdu, K. Farago, P. Szegedi, N. Rybanska 2, E. Macsai, K. Peresztegi-Nagy 2, S. Golopencza
Padova: L. Teani, L. Barzon 5 , M. Gottardo 1 , M. Borisova 2, E. Queirolo 2, A. Casson , A. Millo, S. Dario, E. Armit 1, C. Meggiato, S. Centanni, A. Grigolon, C. Giacon
Officials: Andrej Franulovic (CRO), Aurely Blanchard (FRA)
The match started with some intensity – with Gabriella Szucs coming closest in the opening exchanges with a powerful cross-cage rattling Laura Teani’s left-hand post.
But it was the Italians who took the initiative. Elisa Queirolo originally thought she had her first shot of the game saved on the line by Alda Magyari, however Andrej Franulovic stopped the game and consulted VAR, and determined that the ball had crossed the line, to give Plebiscito an early lead.
UVSE then put the ball in the net twice, but the referees disallowed both due to already giving exclusions in the field from Sara Dario and Sara Centanni. Ironically, UVSE’s Kamilla Farago missed the double man-up opportunity.
UVSE continued to have much possession throughout the quarter, but Szucs and Szegedi couldn’t make the opportunities count.
Plebiscito then made it 2-0 from the 5m line, with Laura Barzon converting from Kamilla Farago’s indiscretion. Magyari went the correct way, but the ball crept under the UVSE keeper’s arms.
UVSE finally got off the mark, and it was Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy (fresh from netting nine the day before) who found the net. Dora Abel-Antal looped the ball to the back stick, and Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy’s shot, although not accurate, had the power to beat Laura Teani in the Padova goal.
With ninety seconds to go, UVSE were then level at 2-2. Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy’s initial shot was saved, but Natasa Rybanska was alert and on hand to tuck away the rebound from close range. It was a scrappy goal, but they all count.
Plebiscito Padova had two decent opportunities at the end of the quarter, with two power plays in quick succession. Kata Hajdu and Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy were both excluded, but unlike in the Semi-Final, Padova were uncharacteristically wasteful.
UVSE finally took the lead for the first time in the game when Dora Abel-Antal converted on the man-up play; Sara Centanni was dismissed, and Abel-Antal faked thrice before cleverly placing the ball past the helpless Teani in the Padova goal.
The Hungarians then had a great opportunity moments later to make it 4-2, but from a tight angle on the right hand side, Rita Keszthelyi could only find the hands of Italy’s best goalkeeper, Laura Teani.
For the first part of the 2nd period, Plebiscito were actually struggling to even set position in attack. They barely registered an attempt for a moment or two with the only shot of note being a Alessia Millo attempt that was saved without trouble by Alda Magyari.
Then, after a tiring few end to end attacks by both sides, UVSE won another penalty given away by Laura Barzon – her second personal foul of the game. Keszthelyi stepped up, and slotted the ball home. She put the ball in the same place as the first penalty, but the keeper still couldn’t prevent the score.
Plebiscito did eventually register their third goal with a minute to go in the half via a tidy Elle Armit right-hand finish. The chance came about via a man-up situation where a UVSE player had switched off for a moment, perhaps because she was injured, and did not cover back.
At the turnaround UVSE had a big chance to increase their lead. When Martina Gottardo was excluded, the Hungarian Head Coach called a time-out. However, the resultant shot from Panni Szegedi could not beat Laura Teani, despite a brief VAR check.
Plebiscito had chances themselves midway through the period. The fiery Sara Dario had a 6m shot parried away by UVSE’s Magyari, before the Hungarian national keeper saved Elisa Quierolo’s attempt moments later.
The Lilacs from Margaret Island then made Padova pay for their missed chances, when the Slovakian-born Natasa Rybanska fooled the Plebiscito defence and keeper with her eyes to slot home her second goal of the game.
At 5-3, Plebiscito needed a quick response to ensure UVSE didn’t pull away. And right on cue, Mariia Borisova showed her finesse with a deft lob at close range to make it 5-4.
Plebiscito searched for the equalising goal, and Elisa Queirolo then had two shots saved. The first from the set attack, and the second from a long sprint up the field. Despite her great athletic capability, neither found the target.
Then there was a huge moment in the game with two and a half minutes to go in the quarter when Queirolo had her penalty saved. Lili Forgacs gave away the opportunity, but Alda Magyari showed why she is amongst the finest shot stoppers in the world, with a powerful and potentially significant stop.
At this point of the match, tensions were running high. Plebiscito Padova coach Stefano Posterivo was visibly annoyed at the penalty miss, while Marton Benczur was equally displeased about something down on poolside.
Padova had a timeout to create something from Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy’s exclusion, but there was a big block from Rybanska. UVSE then had the same opportunity at the other end from a double exclusion, but Keszthelyi could only find Laura Teani’s arms.
However, right on the buzzer, Elisa Queirolo finally made one of her shots count in emphatic style, and not a second too soon. With a single second left, Queirolo found the underside of the bar, and then the back of the net, to make it 5-5.
UVSE won the sprint, but it Plebiscito who took the lead. Martina Gottardo had the ball in the centre, and rifled home past Magyari to give the Italians a 6-5 lead.
The momentum was then with the Italians. Sara Dario firstly was determined to steal the ball, and then Mariia Borisova’s long range shot was perfectly placed past the UVSE keeper – hitting the bar on its way in.
UVSE were really on the back foot. While Alessia Casson was, wrapped for the side from Padua, but Kata Hajdu could not take advantage, only hitting the post for the Lilacs.
The with 5 minutes to go in the period, Padova hit their 8th goal of the game. Once again, it was an unbelievable shot from the Italians, as Laura Barzon’s second goal of the game was absolutely stunning – from range, she bounced the ball with immense power, hitting the bar on the way in, giving Alda Magyari no chance.
UVSE then couldn’t stop giving reversals. Panna Eszter and Kata Hajdu, for all their talent, were perhaps just too inexperienced in these big moments.
Remarkably, it was then 9-5 to the Italian side, when Laura Barzon’s shot slid bizarrely under Magyari’s outstretched arm. It was unlucky for UVSE, but Padova celebrated with great passion nonetheless.
UVSE then did find a footing in the match. Benczur the coach called a timeout, and Dora Abel-Antal found the net for her second of the game.
At 6-9 with two minutes to go, Elle Armit typically found herself free on the post, something she does so well, but Alda Magyari made an amazing save.
However, Magyari was left embarrassed as she went up for an attack, had the ball turned over, and Laura Barzon found the net from her own six metres. It was clear that she was instructed to stay up for attacks to create a 7-6, but this showed the real dangers of sending your keeper up in attack.
With less than 30 seconds, Barzon secured her 5th goal of the game to really seal the result. She was through on the counter, and was clinical in dispatching the goal.