Day 6, Group B – FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Novi Beograd (SRB) 14-12
Since Barceloneta was thrashed by Recco in Group A on Tuesday, Novi Beograd remained the only unbeaten side in the field. However, the Serbs chances of keeping this record got slimmer and slimmer as their Budapest appearance was commencing. They arrived without their Greek stars Vlachopoulos and Skoumpakis and their top Serbian gun Nikola Jaksic, and soon before the start their centre-forward Dusko Pijetlovic also opted to skip the game as he didn’t feel well in the dressing room.
Despite lining up only nine field-players, NBG took a flying start, three blasts from the perimeter made the game look so easy as they led 1-3 after the opening period. It could have been more but young goalie Daniel Szakonyi – still replacing injured starter Soma Vogel – stopped a penalty, just like in the game against Jug last December. Back then that had also been a sign that the hosts started climbing back – now, in 76 seconds in the second, FTC levelled the score. Though NBG took back the lead soon, they were shut out for th following 3:30 minutes while Stylianos Argyropoulos hit a double for 5-4. After missing two man-ups, the Serbs managed to put away one to equalise, still, the Serbian centre-forward of the hosts Nemanja Ubovic netted a great action goal, so by halftime Ferencvaros led 6-5.
Then in the third it was the Magyars who made the game look so simple – their shots beat NBG goalie Joao Fernandez with ease, Adam Nagy’s brilliant lob and Denes Varga’s fine shot from the distance gave the home side a 9-5 lead and they were still 11-7 ahead late in this quarter. Radomir Drasovic came up with two fine bouncing shots while the Hungarians’ scoring machine ceased to function (they netted five apiece in the middle two periods but none in the last 2:27 minutes in the third). With 11-9 on the scoreboard, the game was very much open before the final chapter began.
A block denied the Hungarians in their first extra and two minutes into the fourth Drasovic found the back of the net once more for 11-10. Fernandez managed to bounce back with a series of saves to offer a couple of possessions for his side, however, the equaliser never came. Instead, after long minutes of intense battling, Daniil Merkulov’s pinpoint action shot ended FTC’s 7:46 minute-long draught. Gergo Fekete added another one from extra 48 seconds later, and at 13-10, with 2:32 to go, the Hungarians seemed to have it. Dusan Mandic pulled one back with a trademark 6m shot, but his next attempt was blocked, and Argyropoulos hit his fourth from a man-up for 14-11, 43 seconds from time – Mandic converted a penalty lately, to end this brilliant shooting contest.
How they saw it
Zsolt Varga, coach, FTC
“Today we got an opportunity to take back the three points we had lost in Berlin. Though when a team come without key players, the psychology can work the other way and those playing may gain some extra energy from deep inside. And they started well but we also reacted well, and then we could go all the way, apart from a minor setback late in the third period. In that phase we forced the attacks a bit too intensively, we didn’t pay that much attention to defending, especially to mark Mandic but at the end we could still win the game.”
Zivko Gocic, coach, NBG
“For sure, today this was our maximum effort. If we had one or two more players, the game might have ended differently, but all in all, we fought from the very beginning till the last moment which was great. At the end, this is a realistic result for today, congrats to FTC as they played really well.”