Novi Beograd handed Brescia their first defeat in the season and took over the top spot in Group B. Ferencvaros won a huge fight against arch-rival Jug, a crucial victory in this extremely tough group. Marseille and OSC also started closing the gap on the leaders so 2023 will see a series of outstanding battles.
Group B: VK Novi Beograd (SRB) v AN Brescia (ITA) 11-9, FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 9-7, CN Marseille (FRA) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 14-7, Genesys OSC Budapest (HUN) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 9-8
Standings: 1. Novi Beograd 10, 2. Brescia 9, 3. FTC 9, 4. OSC 5, 5. Jug 4, 6. Marseille 4, 7. Spandau 2, 8. Sabadell 1
In the rematch of last season’s thrilling semi-final, Novi Beograd managed to down Brescia with an impressive man-up play in the second half. Once they took a 6-3 lead early in the third period, the Serbs put away 5 for 6 in the most important phase of the game and never let Brescia narrow the gap to a single goal. Brazilian goalie Joao Fernandez was tremendous in the hosts’ goal, delivered 16 saves, which was the key to beat the Italians who had been 3/3 in the first three rounds. Now F8 host NBG is the only unbeaten side in this group and took over the lead from the defeated rival.
The other highlighted encounter was the rematch of last season’s quarter-final, and Ferencvaros took the upper hand against Jug once more. The Hungarians stormed to a 3-0 lead, despite missing their two most important players (goalie Soma Vogel and captain Denes Varga), then Jug hit back with a 0-5 rush, but the hosts could score twice in 50 seconds to make it 5-5 before the big break. The third saw one goal apiece as the battle intensified, then the Magyars scored two in 58 seconds for 8-6 and never looked back. They did a splendid job in front of their goal, their 9 blocks, combined with their young goalie David Szakonyi’s 8 saves won the game as they held Jug 0 for 7 in man-ups in the second half.
In the matches of the winless sides, Marseille and OSC could leave the initial disappointments of the season behind by beating Spandau and Sabadell respectively. Marseille and Spandau produced a hard-fought first half where the French took a 4-2 lead, then by netting three in 1:44 minutes early in the third they jumped to a 7-2 lead and there was no way back for the Germans.
The other game in Budapest featuring OSC and Sabadell followed a similar pattern as the clash of FTC and Jug a couple of kilometres away, though here Sabadell stormed to a 0-3 lead and OSC hit back with a 5-0 run, then at halftime it stood 5-5 as well. And they left the decision to the last quarter which began at 7-7 – and also the host Hungarians prevailed, the winning goal came 68 seconds from time by Krisztian Manhercz.
Apart from Marseille’s 7-goal blast of Spandau, this group doesn’t stop producing tight matches, a week ago two ended in a draw and one saw a single-goal win, now three encounters were decided in the last period – so the New Year promises nothing but thrilling excitements.
For game reports, post-game quotes, stats, play-by-play and rewatching the matches, visit www.championsleague.len.eu
Champion League action resumes on 10-11 January.