Day 8, Group B – Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 11-13
The hosts took the lead from a penalty in 19 seconds – but as easy as it seemed, they struggled to score a second, waited for that almost six more minutes and by then the Germans already netted two. And they came up with two more, with Marin Tkac’s action shot with 0:05 on the clock they were 3-4 up after eight minutes.
The Croats had a better spell in the second, turned the score with two fine action goals while shutting out Spandau for almost four minutes. Then Dmitri Kholod equalised from a dying man-up for 5-5 – though the sixth goal did not come at either end. It was telling that Jug were not able to earn at least a man-up, while Spandau was close, had a penalty 10 seconds from time, but Toni Popadic stopped Denis Strelezkij’s shot.
The Germans’ offensive miseries continued right away in the third, they missed a man-up and a clean shot within a minute so instead of taking the lead, soon they inevitably fell behind once more as Jug needed only once chance and capitalise on it. Dmitri Kholod halted Spandau’s bad run after a time-out, he put away their next extra for 6-6, but Marko Zuvela buried a penalty from the hosts’ next possession.
Soon Strelezkij corrected his earlier miss as he blasted a nice one from action, and a bit later Kholod performed the perfect penalty shot to send Spandau ahead once more and force Vjeko Kobescak to call for an emergency time-out. It seemed to help as they earned a penalty, in an extra, but this time Zuvela hit the crossbar and at the other goal Bilal Gbadamassi netted a brilliant one from the centre, so it stood 7-9 instead of 8-8. The Croats couldn’t come closer before the last break as they missed another 6 on 5.
Jug opened the fourth with a risky M-zone in defence, but it was broken right from the first German possession as Zoran Bozic pulled himself into shooting range and sent the ball home from 6m. Jug faced a mountain to climb which looked even higher when Zuvela was denied in a man-up and Gbadamassi finished off the ensuing counter for 7-11, so Spandau staged a 0-5 run since 7-6. The hosts pulled one back, but their defence didn’t work, Spandau earned another penalty, Kholod converted it – it was his 5th –, and with five minutes remaining, Jug’s situation was anything but promising.
Still, they managed to pull back two in 49 seconds to start the last three minutes with a two-goal deficit at 10-12. Soon they survived a man-down, had a chance for a counter but the pass was long, Spandau turned back and Strelezkij won the match for his team with a fine blast. Franko Lazic’s late goal wasn’t even good for consolation – this shocking defeat might cost a lot for the Croats if they couldn’t bounce back (a telling piece of stats: despite the number of saves stood 8-3, Spandau still won comfortably as the number of shots on target was 14-26, a painful tale on the Croats’ concentration level). At the same time, Spandau, which had been already close to upset Jug ten days ago, claimed another fantastic win after beating Ferencvaros so they are very much in the race to reach the finals for the first time since 2018.
How they saw it
Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug
“We didn’t start the game with the rhythm which showed that we wanted to win. It is concerning how our energy level has been going down in the last two months, we have problems everywhere, in offence, in defence and this led to this loss which makes our road to the Final Eight a lot more difficult.”
Athanasios Kechagias, coach, Spandau
“I think it was a great game, a great effort and my team showed a great performance once again. Congratulations to my players – and we keep moving on.”