Brescia finishes atop, Ferencvaros, Hannover book last berths, Olympiacos is out
Ferencvaros and Hannover booked the last two available berths in the Day of Thrillers when each game offered nailbiting finishes – three were decided by a single goal, the other two ended in a draw. Olympiacos, built for another title-run, will miss the finals for the first time since 2015, a last-grasp goal by Novi Beograd even denied their win today. Ferencvaros beat Radnicki after giant struggles and that not only secured their F8 spot but lift them to the second place as Brescia earned a draw in Barceloneta which also secured the Italians’ top spot in the group. In the clash of the Germans, Hannover delivered the necessary victory over Spandau in Group B, so they will return to Belgrade after last year’s appearance in the finals.
Group A: Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Novi Beograd (SRB) 12-12, FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 13-12, Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v AN Brescia (ITA) 12-12, Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Jadran Split (CRO) 12-11
Standings: 1. Brescia 30, 2. Ferencvaros 25, 3. Novi Beograd 24, 3. Barceloneta 24, 5. Olympiacos 20, 6. Radnicki 13, 7. Jadran 9, 8. Dinamo 3
Group B: Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 10-9
Standings: 1. Recco 36, 2. Marseille 33, 3. Jug 30, 4. Hannover 20, 5. OSC 16, 6. Spandau 10, 7. Steaua 4, 8. Zvezda 4
After a cost-saving season, Olympiacos boosted its line-up once more with quality foreigners (with the core of Greece’s Olympic silver medallist team already in the house), and their target was definite: to win the cup again. They reached the finals three times between 2016 and 2019, lifted the trophy in 2018 – but this season something went wrong as they will not go to Belgrade.
They should have needed a miracle after losing to Ferencvaros on Day 12 – but they couldn’t deliver their part in the afternoon as they were unable to beat Novi Beograd. The Serbs were leading most of the time, though the Greeks came back in the fourth, even took the lead, but a buzzer-beater one-timer by Strahinja Rasovic saved the game to a tie after a time-out called 0:01 to go.
This made Ferencvaros’ job easier, they needed a single point against already eliminated Radnicki to advance. However, they found themselves in the midst of a giant struggle as their rivals got a two-goal lead early in the second period and could even hold it early in the fourth. But the Magyars fought back and with a 3-0 run they turned the game, then scored the winner after 12-12.
This not only sent them to the finals but also rocketed them to the second place, thanks to Brescia’s fine efforts in Barceloneta. The Italians offered another convincing performance, two missed penalties in the third rocked the Spaniards’ boat and even though they fought hard and managed to level the score with a double in the last 70 seconds, but they never had a real chance to win this game. A victory would have put them back to the runner-up position – at the same time, Brescia cemented its top ranks and they can even lose in Budapest on the last day. Dinamo saved some pride, beating Jadran in an exciting, tight match meant that they would not finish the season with zero points.
In Group B, Hannover needed a win against fellow German side Spandau to secure a third F8 berth in as many seasons. Spandau didn’t offer any free meal for its local arch-rival but with a 4-0 run by the hosts from 4-6 to 8-6 – and a 12:50-minute long silence of the Berliners – put the encounter on the desired path and Waspo prevailed at the end.
Olympiacos v Novi Beograd 12-12
The two sides produced a brilliant battle – too bad that Olympiacos was set to bow out even before the match, as it was hard to see that Ferencvaros would go down twice in its remaining two home encounters – that was the Greeks’ only chance, besides beating Novi Beograd first, then Dinamo in Tbilisi.
In fact, they failed to complete the first part of the mission. The Greeks’ game was all but consistent in the season – and that was mirrored in this match too.
They needed almost six minutes to score their first goal, then they managed to add another one in 50 seconds, only to concede two more in 35sec, the second one 3sec from time. Their struggles became even more visible in the second period when they had no less than six man-ups plus at least two more clean scoring chances but could only net two goals while the Serbs made most of their chances and led 4-6 at halftime.
Then all of a sudden – or in three minutes, until the middle break lasted – the home side went through a transformation and came back flying. In 1:42 minutes they scored three unanswered goals for 7-6, then killed a man-down and had a 6 on 5 to double the gap but it was wasted and soon Strahinja Rasovic equalised from action. Filip Filipovic replied with a fine blast against his fellow Serbs but after a save Vasilje Martinovic could send the ball home from the wing in a dying extra for 8-8. The Serbs missed their next one while Georgios Dervisis converted the Greeks’ 6 on 5 – still, there was time for another equaliser, by Radomir Drasovic, again from a man-up, so the last quarter started from 9-9. It looked inevitable that the outcome would come down to the man-up conversions in the last period as the defences worked hard and didn’t let any easy goals. The Serbs buried their first two, the Greeks kept their nerves and replied immediately both times. The first miss came from the visitors at 11-11 and Konstantinos Genidounias hit the back of the net from the Greeks’ extra, after a time-out, with 48 seconds to go, so the Greeks led 12-11, for the first time since 2-1. With 31 seconds to go, they had a steal, burnt their 30sec, so the Serbian time-out came with 0:01 on the clock. However, that was enough for them to level the score – after a double exclusion to calm the rising tensions in the dead time –, Strahinja Rasovic’s brilliantly executed one-timer beat the goalie and the buzzer and the Serbs’ jubilant celebrations showed that they were really determined to get a positive result here, despite their secured berth as the F8 hosts.
Barceloneta v Brescia 12-12
Interestingly, Barceloneta played a 12-12 draw with the other three F8 qualifiers at home – against Ferencvaros, Novi Beograd and now with Brescia. In the other two clashed their rivals scored late goals to save the game to a tie – now Barceloneta had to dig deep to claim at least a point in this match. The Italians scored from their first two possession to the set the tone and from that point the Spaniards had to play a chasing game. Though they managed to equalise early in the second for 4-4 but Brescia hit back with a double in two minutes and led 6-7 at halftime as both sides had some great plays in front but the defences also reacted well for a couple of times.
The crucial phase came at the beginning of the third when Edoardo di Somma netted a 6 on 5, then Petar Tesanovic saved Alvaro Granados’ penalty and Christian Presciutti scored a great goal from the distance – so instead 7-8 the scoreboard displayed 6-9. Di Somma made it 6-10 soon and the hosts faced a mount to climb. Perrone’s annulled penalty didn’t help either – the refs called his shooting move too slow – still, the Spaniards kept on fighting and managed to halve the gap till the last break while Brescia was unable to add more goals in the second half of this quarter.
The third penalty was converted early in the fourth brought Barceloneta even closer but Stefano Luongo ended Brescia’s scoreless phase after 5:30 minutes for 9-11. Luke Pavillard’s action goal gave some hope for the hosts again, then Vincenzo Renzuto netted Brescia’s penalty for 10-12 with 4:33 remaining. The Italians could have closed down the contest soon but missed their next man-up after a time-out but it seemed that they were still in the driving seat as they withstood the pressure for long minutes. With 1:09 to go, Alberto Munarriz blasted one and after Lazic hit the post from the centre, Pavillard also had a shot and it hit the back of the net 17 seconds from time. Brescia went for the winner after a time-out but the shot was missed – still, the Italians were happy as this point secured their first spot so it’s more than likely that the two Italian sides will top the groups respectively.
FTC v Radnicki 13-12
Back on Day 2 Ferencvaros led by four goals in Kragujevac with four minutes to go but the Serbs came back and managed to equalise at the end – and even it happened long ago, now in Budapest the game held even more suffering to the Hungarian side. Radnicki played for pride – the home side for the Final Eight and they didn’t get an easy go.
While in their last two matches their magnificent defending brought the two big away wins against Novi Beograd and Olympiacos, it turned out quickly that this time they need to dig deep as that part was not clicking – they conceded four right in the first eight minutes. Soma Vogel came up with a penalty save in the middle of this quarter but as time passed by he could barely have his hand on the ball. The Serbs, playing without pressure, made most of their chances and as soon as they jumped to a two goal lead early in the second, that sent the Magyars off-balance in offence too. They could net their first after 4:18 minutes but Radnicki always had the answer, their last in this half came 11 seconds from time for 6-8. The hosts, however, showed some guts and with a brilliant combination they scored a confidence-booster three seconds from time.
Still, it didn’t get them going in the third – a quick exchange of goals at the beginning was followed by another fine action shot from Aleksa Ukropina for 8-10 and soon the Serbs even had a man-up to go up by three but Vogel this time delivered a crucial save. At the other end, Marton Vamos took two shots in a dying man-up and the second found its way to the net 37 seconds from time, despite some heroic efforts of Radnicki’s goalie Lazar Dobozanov.
And the Serbs kept going, Marko Radulovic’s great blast bounced in from the crossbar for 9-11 – but Szilard Jansik pulled one back from a man-up. And from here the Hungarians caught the wave, 55 seconds later Vamos scored from action and after some fine defending Denes Varga showed his class with an extraordinary shot from the perimeter – with 2:57 to go Ferencvaros was heading to Belgrade at 12-11. Radnicki had a last try, Nikola Lukic’s deflected shot fooled Vogel and after 12-12 they denied a man-down (it was save No. 14 for Dobozanov, simply amazing!) and the Serbs took two more shots to go ahead once more, but Vogel did his job once again. And from the ensuing counter Jansik made sure not only Ferencvaros’ qualification but set his team up to have a chance even for the second place in the group.
Dinamo v Jadran 12-11
During the seasons, the closest the Georgians got to gain a positive result happened in Split when Jadran almost blew a seven-goal lead away in the last period which they lost 1-6. Now there was no similar runs in the game, it was a close contest from the beginning to the end – and Dinamo came out on top. After a balanced opening period, the hosts jumped to a 4-2 lead in the second, the Croats equalised in 46 seconds, but the hosts still led 5-4 at halftime. The third followed a strict pattern, Dinamo took the lead, Jadran levelled the score – they could do that four times, so it stood 8-8 before the final period. And it continued in similar fashion, the Georgians went ahead but the Croats managed to reply every time till 11-11. Then Dinamo earned back-to-back exclusions and Andria Bitadze managed to put away the second one 44 seconds from time which proved to be the winner.
Hannover v Spandau 10-9
Even though Hannover was about to step onto the dreamland once more, it was inevitable that their local archrivals would not offer them any free march to the Final Eight. To underline this, Spandau stormed to a 0-3 lead which forced Karsteen Seehofer to call for an emergency time-out after 5:10
minutes. It helped as the hosts scored two quick goals so at least they ‘arrived’ at the game but Dmitri Kholod netted a 6 on 5 with 0:11 on the clock for 2-4.
The Berliners went on keeping the proceedings under control in the first part of the second half as they held on for a 4-6 lead. But in the last 3:20 minutes their offense’s level dropped while the home side managed to convert two man-ups, one with some luck, the other was a clean hit for 6-6 – while Spandau was unable to score from back-to-back extras in the last 45 seconds.
The third was kicked off with a man-up goal by Petar Muslim and that gave the lead to Waspo for the first time in this crucial match. It was followed by a killed man-down and a converted penalty so Hannover was in a 4-0 run. It could have been more as they also set up their next two 6 on 5 nicely but missed the last touch. On the contrary, Spandau was frozen, they were shut out for eight more minutes, missed four man-ups and didn’t seem to be on board any longer.
Then they regained their strength a bit and – after 12:50 minutes – they managed to score from a 6 on 5 but Ivan Nagaev buried a penalty at the other end immediately. Spandau’s Russian shotmaker Kholod also netted a penalty for 9-8 Aleksandar Radovic didn’t miss in the next extra either, so Hannover led 10-8 with 3:25 remaining. Spandau fought on but didn’t have the necessary edge, netted a late one but the hosts bagged the three points at the end and booked their spot in the Final Eight.