Day 6, Group A – Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Pro Recco (ITA) 5-11
Since both sides have tremendous offensive potential, it was obvious, that only the very best of defending could win this game for either side. Accordingly, the opening eight minutes were dominated by the defences. The Italians were especially effective as they could kill four man-downs in the first period, only Alberto Munarriz’s 6m shot found its way to the net after four minutes – that was Barceloneta’s lonely goal in this quarter. By then Recco took the lead from a counter, finished by Gergo Zalanki, two minutes after Francesco di Fulvio’s penalty was well saved by Unai Aguirre. Though the Spaniards also did well in the back, but couldn’t do much with Aaron Younger’s pinpoint finish in a 6 on 5, 36 seconds from time.
The title-holders carried on their momentum in the second, last year’s F8 MVP Giacomo Cannella came up with two brilliant action goals in 1:50 minutes, between the two hits Recco denied two more man-downs so the Italians led 1-4. Then, with some luck, thanks to a deflection, Luke Pavillard finally netted a 6 on 5 for Barceloneta (the first one out of 7), but Gonzalo Echenique responded a fiery bouncer, this was the third action goal for Recco in four minutes. Then came one from an extra, after a time-out, a patient passing set up Younger once more and he did a clean job for 2-6. The Spaniards had another 6 on 5, but the ball ended up in Marco del Lungo’s hands – soon Echenique’s fantastic lob made it 2-7 and Recco seemed to be very much in control. Lately, a fine block denied di Fulvio in extra – while Pavillard was on target once more at the other end, with 0:05 left on the clock, so it stood 3-7 at halftime, not 2-8, a small piece of good news for the local crowd.
Pavillard carried on in the third, hit another one from the first man-up for 4-7, but before the house would have started to burn, Recco’s master-shooters blasted two from the perimeter in 52 seconds – first di Fulvio found his ‘scoring hand’, then Cannella fired his third for 4-9. A trademark counter by the hosts, the first (and the last…) in this game, brought them a bit closer as Marc Larumbe finished it off, however, they couldn’t make their next man-up and as time was passing by, all these misses became more and more crucial. And when Del Luongo stopped Perrone’s shot in a 6 on 4 in the dying seconds, it was hard to see that Barceloneta would come back from four goals down in the last period.
And they never came – instead, the Spaniards were simply shut out in the last eight minutes. Recco were rolling on, they added two more in the final chapter while holding Barceloneta on 5 goals – an amazing feat. The ingredients were Marco del Lungo’s outstanding performance in the goal, he had 10 saves on 15 shots – also, the defence limited their rivals to 28 shots and only 15 were on target, had 7 blocks and killed 12 man-downs out of 15.
It was a masterpiece from the title-holders, led by Sandro Sukno who had been part of Croatia’s Olympic winning side when Elvis Fatovic was the assistant coach of that team – now the fellow Croatian in charge at the Barceloneta bench, but Sukno politely avoided answering the question in the post-game interview if this evening the student taught a lesson to his former master.
How they saw it
Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta
“This was a game we could lose as we had plenty more to come. Congrats to Recco, they were much better and much sharper both in defence and in offence. We need to learn from this game as we need to change something since Recco were absolutely dominant right from the beginning.”
Sandro Sukno, coach, Recco
“I’m very satisfied with my guys. I can say this was our best performance so far in this season, we played really well in the entire game.”