Group A, Day 3: Jadran Split (CRO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 8-13
Jadran were wounded and bleeding – they lost the local cup final badly, which led to the resignation of coach Mile Smodlaka and three key players including top star Jerko Marinic-Kragic couldn’t play this Tuesday due to injuries. Still, playing for their pride and to show some quality, the Croats managed to withstand the pressure for three periods – however, they finally collapsed in the fourth, conceding five goals in eight minutes. At the same time, Olympiacos, which began the season with two wins, including one against the almighty Recco, were in charge for most of the time but could not open the gap decisively.
It was a slow-paced game where both sides tried to build their attacks with patience – and this played to the hands (arms) of the defenders. The Greeks took a 0-2 lead but couldn’t really build on the fine defending which prevented Jadran from scoring for 6:39 minutes. And soon in the second period the hosts came back to 3-3, but two finely played man-up gave back the two-goal lead to the Greeks by halftime – Filip Filipovic netted both, exchanging positions with the other leftie Marton Vamos, he hit one from the wing and one from the back for a 3-5 lead.
The Croats could score again after another 6:30 minute-long silence, Rino Buric buried a 6 on 5 from the 2m line, and later in this period they could halve the distance two more times. However, they couldn’t really mark Anastasios Papanastasiou in the left wing who scored a great action goal from sharp angle for 6-8, and he copied that later in the fourth, then it gave a 7-10 lead for the Greeks. A smart assist soon found Georgios Dervisis unmarked who made it 7-11 – here the Croats were finally broken, conceded unusually easy goals in the finish and lost the game by five at the end.
How they saw it
Dean Savicevic, interim coach, Jadran
“Congrats for my friend Igor Milanovic, now they are the best team in Europe. We played without three important players, still, we had three good periods but left without power for the fourth one. I just hope our guys recover for the next game, they are really important for our team.”
Igor Milanovic, coach, Olympiacos
“We played a good defence, but I wasn’t satisfied with our attack – we were too passive, we didn’t do much and I have to analyse why we weren’t so active in front of the goal. All in all, I’m happy that we won here, we came for the points and we bring them home in our bag.”
Luka Bukic, player, Jadran
“We played a good match against one of the favourites for the Champions League title. We missed three of our players, now we must win our next match.”
Andro Bušlje, player, Olympiacos
“We played a very good match, it was important to get these points. Jadran were without a few key players, and they still showed they are a good team. Now we go to cheer for Croatia in the soccer World Cup.”