A three-horse race for 1st place in Group A of the Champions League continues.
The top three teams – Olympiacos, Barceloneta, and Pro Recco beat their respective rivals today. They are still tied in points. Each side has collected 18 points so far.
Olympiacos defeated Radnicki (13:7). As expected, Pro Recco didn’t have a demanding task in Tbilisi, where it beat Dinamo (13:3).
Barceloneta was better than Jadran in Split (9:5). The Spaniards’ defense was superb in the first two quarters and a half. The visitors had a 7:0 lead midway through the third quarter. Jadran narrowed the gap at the finish.
Despite the fact that only the first half of the Preliminary Stage has been over, it’s practically sure that the top three teams in Group A will play in the Final Eight and that the battle for 4th place will be very balanced.
The top three teams are eight points ahead of 4th-placed Vouliagmeni. The Greeks climbed to 4th place after today’s victory over Hannover (14:11) in Germany
Before all matches, a one-minute silence was held in mourning for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. This week, there will be a moment of silence before all games in the LEN competitions.
Jadran S – Barceloneta 5:9 (0:2, 0:4, 3:2, 2:1)
Jadran Split: Anic, Buric 2, Marinic Kragic 1, Cagalj 1, Butic, Pejkovic, Bukic 1, Tomasovic, Zovic, Dobud, Setka, Duzevic, Marcelic. Head coach: Marelja.
Barceloneta: Aguirre, Famera 2, Matkovic, Munarriz 2, De Toro, Larumbe 1, Pavillard 1, Paul, Tahull, Perrone 2, Biel , Bustos 1, Porter. Head coach: Fatovic.
Barceloneta deflated Jadran easier than expected. The Croats, who played well against Pro Recco and Olympiacos, were stunned in the first half.
Barceloneta’s defense was excellent in the first two quarters. The Spaniards controlled Jadran with intense pressing and left not much space for the hosts. Jadran didn’t have too many opportunities to score in the first half.
At the other end of the pool, Munarriz hit the back of the net twice in the first quarter (in the 1st and 4th minute). The visitors opened the second quarter even better than the first period. They netted three goals in the first 83 seconds of the quarter (Perrone scored two -one from a penalty and one from a counter-attack, and Famera added one). So, in the 10th minute, it stood 0:5. Barceloneta’s defense kept the rhythm from the first eight minutes. At halftime, Barceloneta led 6:0.
Barceloneta’s defense, in general, was excellent, but goalkeeper Aguirre has to be praised. He posted 17 saves today. However, Mate Anic, who was in front of Jadran’s goal, played very well. He blocked 12 shots during the match.
Jadran got on the scoreboard after almost 22 minutes of play. Two minutes and two seconds before the last break, Rino Buric netted for 1:7. Immediately after, Famera made it 8:1. But Jadran closed the third period with two goals to reduce the gap to five. Still, Barceloneta’s victory wasn’t in danger. The rhythm of the game was slow in the fourth quarter. Everything was decided before the final eight minutes. Maybe, both teams lost motivation at the finish of the encounter. Jadran managed to avoid a big defeat.
“We played three games at the Final Eight of the Spanish Cup last weekend, and we came here very tired. Because of that, it was most important for us to start well. We did what we planned and earned a big advantage in the first half. It was obvious that our pace was slower in the second half, but we already had a big lead and it was really hard for Jadran to come back”, Elvis Fatovic, Barceloneta’s coach, said.
Jure Marelja, Jadran head coach:
“Since we didn’t score a goal in the first 22 minutes, I am satisfied with the final score. This was the game where two outstanding goalkeepers displayed their capabilities. We couldn’t find the solution to stop Barceloneta’s counterattacks.”
Olympiacos – Radnicki 13:7 (3:2, 3:3, 5:1, 2:1)
Olympiacos: Bijac, Gkillas, Vamos 2, Genidounias 2, Fountoulis 2, Gouvis, Dervisis 1, Buslje, Mourikis 3, Filipovic, Kolomvos 3, Papanastasiou, Zerdevas. Head coach: Milanovic.
Radnicki: Dobozanov, Brankovic 1, Stanojevic 1, Jankovic 1, Cuk 2, Kojic, Ukropina, Poznanovic, Pljevancic, Antic, Lukic 1, Vrlic 1, Todorovski. Head coach: Stevanovic.
Because of the departures of two experienced players and injuries, Radnicki played with a very young team. Two youngsters debuted in a match in a LEN competition – Lazar Antic (18-year-old), and Vuk Kojic (17).
As for Olympiacos, head coach Milanovic counted on key players.
But, Radnicki played very well. The visitors led twice in the first quarter (1:0, 2:1). Olympiacos had a 3:2 advantage at the first break. Radnicki leveled in its first possession in the second quarter after Nemanja Stanojevic finished a very nice attack with a goal. Olympiacos built a 3-goal lead by the middle of the second quarter (6:3) and it seemed that the hosts controlled the match. But, Radnicki didn’t give in and started coming back step by step. The Serbs narrowed the margin to one before the middle break. Lukic equalized in the 18th minute – 6:6. But Olympiacos woke up shortly after. The hosts rebuilt a 3-goal lead by producing a 3:0 run in 123 seconds (9:6). At the finish of the quarter, the hosts added two goals and entered the final quarter with a big 11:6 advantage.
The men who made the difference were Olympiacos’ center-forwards, Konstantinos Mourikis and Christodoulos Kolomvos. Radnicki couldn’t find a solution to stop them. They combined six goals and forced a lot of exclusions and one penalty shot.
“I am happy with this win. We again didn’t start the game very well. We made a lot of mistakes in defense. We were nervous in the attack at some points of the match. However, we recorded a six-goal win, which means we have a lot of space for improvement and that we can play better. I congratulate my players. With this win, we are closer and closer to the Final Eight”, Olympiacos head coach Igor Milanovic said. He dedicated the victory to Olympiacos’ fans, who died in an incident at the football stadium of Olympiacos that happened on this day in 1981 when 21 people lost their lives.
Stevanovic, Radnicki’s head coach and Milanovic’s assistant at Partizan 11 years ago:
“We had problems with the roster. Therefore we couldn’t play at a high level and keep up with Olympiacos from the beginning until the end. Still, our goal remains the same. We target 4th place and a spot at the Final Eight.”
Dinamo T – Pro Recco 3:13 (0:3, 1:2, 2:4, 0:4)
Dinamo Tbilisi: Razmadze, Kiriakidi, Akhvlediani, Dzikhtsiarenka, Theshelashvili 1, Vlahovic 1, Jakhaia, Saric, Imnaishvili, Mahtakvelidze, Malyshau, Pjesivac 1, Gvetadze. Head coach: Stanojevic.
Pro Recco: Del Lungo, Di Fulvio, Zalanki 2, Figlioli, Younger 1, Fondelli 2, N.Presciutti, Echenique 3, Iocchi Gratta, Velotto, Loncar 2, Hallock 3, Negri. Head coach: Sukno.
Pro Recco arrived in the capital of Georgia without Ivovic, Aicardi, and Cannellla. Head coach Sukno left them to rest at home. Although three experienced players missed the match, the Italians recorded a convincing win.
Recco’s attack wasn’t at its best level. The attack wasn’t as sharp as it could be.Still, the defense was up to the task. The visitors earned a 5:0 lead before Dinamo got on the scoreboard, which happened in the 14th minute. Recco had a 7-goal lead in the third period (9:2). Pjesivac closed this quarter with a goal for 3:9. In the last period, Recco netted four unanswered goals for the win with a double-digit margin.
Hannover – Vouliagmeni 11:14 (4:3, 2:6, 4:5, 1:0)
Waspo 98 Hannover: Goetz, Corusic, Schipper 1, Froreich, Schuetze 3, Radovic, Lozina 1, Grosse, Rotermund 1, Gansen, Benic 3, Basic 2, Bock. Head coach: Seehafer.
Vouliagmeni: Tzortzatos, Chalyvopoulos, Almyras 2, Kalogeropoulos 3, Troulos 4, Nikolaidis 1, Papasifakis 2, Woodhead, Alafragkis, Kapotsis 2, Kourovanis, Farmer, Andreadis. Head coach: Vujasinovic.
Vouliagmeni stays in the race for the 4th place and the Final Eight berth, while Hannover made a step back in their efforts to reach the F8.
The Greeks led most of the time. In the first quarter, the teams exchanged goals, but Hannover took the lead just once. Nicholas Schipper converted a man-up for 4:3 in the 8th minute. But, Vouliagmeni dictated the pace after the first break. The visitors opened the second quarter with three straight goals. In the 12th minute, they earned a 2-goal lead for the first time (6:4). Benic broke Vouliagmeni’s series by scoring for 5:6, but not for a while. Troulos and Kapotsis replied with goals with power play advantage and went to 8:5. The visitors maintained the difference until the end of the first half.
Midway through the third quarter, their advantage increased to five. Nikolaidis converted a man-up for 13:8 and it was a turning point.. In the remaining time, Vouliagmeni focused on defense and didn’t let Hannover come back.
1.Olympiacos 7 games – 18 points (+40)
2. Pro Recco 7 – 37 (+37)
3. Barceloneta 7 – 18 (+34)
4. Vouliagmeni 7 – 10
5. Radnicki 7 – 8
6. Jadran S 7 – 7
7. Hannover 7 – 3
8. Dinamo 7 – 0
Spandau – Jug AO (19:30)
Sabadell – Novi Beograd (19:30)
Marseille – Brescia (18:30)
OSC Budapest – Ferencvaros (19:30)
Standings: 1.Brescia 15 pts, 2. Novi Beograd 13, 3. Ferencvaros 12, 4. Jug 8, 5. OSC 5, 6. Spandau 6, 7. Sabadell 4, 8. Marseille 4.
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