Barceloneta’s 101-second storm was enough to make the semis

LEN/Istvan Derencsenyi

Quarter-finals: Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 11-9

The opening period was rather a penalty shootout – five were awarded but only three were landing in the net. Tensions took over, even those with the ‘safest’ hands missed the big chance – Marc Larumbe and Felipe Perrone on the Spanish side and Marko Zuvela from Jug. Munarriz, however, stepped up and buried the second penalty to put Barceloneta ahead but soon after Perrone hit the post, Maro Jokovic was on target from the 5m line for 1-1. The Spaniards also wasted a 6 on 4 – a turnover foul was called – so it was even after eight minutes.

Goals arrived for the second period, Barceloneta took the lead three times, but Jug could equalise on each occasion. Munarriz hit one from action, Matias Biljaka replied from the 2m line in a man-up, then Barceloneta scored in a similar way, setting up Miguel del Toro. This time Jug levelled the score from action, via Marko Zuvela’s one-timer, then Luke Pavillard’s lefthanded shot hit the back of the net from a 6 on 5, but Toni Mozara also sent the ball home from the back in a man-up. To have a twist, soon Konstantin Kakaris – who delivered most of Jug’s extras – finished off a man-up to send Jug ahead for the first time in the game, but Unai Biel’s fine bouncer brought Barceloneta back on level. It remained 5-5 for halftime as the Croats missed their last extra inside the last minute.

LEN/Istvan Derencsenyi

Pavillard opened the third with another great blast from a 6 on 5, then Jug missed theirs and Perrone drove himself close to net a fine action goal, then repeated it after a fine steal by Pavillard – in a span of 1:41 minutes the Spaniards produced a 3-0 run which seemed to destroy what Jug had built during the surprisingly balanced first half. An emergency time-out helped a bit, Kakaris immediately forced a penalty, Jokovic put it away for 8-6 and after a killed man-down, Jug had a 6 on 5 to further cut the gap but it didn’t work. Toni Popadic helped a bit as he stopped Pavillard’s penalty – Barceloneta were 1 for 4 at this stage from the 5m line. But Jug were unbale to capitalise on it, Unai Biel buried another man-up from the left wing, after a time-out, to reset the three-goal difference with 2:13 on the clock. Zuvela was more precise from Jug’s next extra, after a blocked first attempt, to make it 9-7. Then Popadic came up with three big saves in a man-down, and despite the Spaniards could spend the last 95 seconds in front of Jug’s goal and even earned another 6 on 5, they were unable to beat the Croatian defence.

After a couple of weak attempts, Jug managed to overplay the Spanish defence and Zuvela finished the fine action for 9-8 but the Croats were unable to deal with Biel in the next man-down, nor with Pavillard in the following one and with 4:18 to go, the three-goal lead looked more than convincing. Could have been four but Martin Famera missed the unmissable from close – still, it did not matter that much as Jug were running out of ideas in front. Hrvoje Zvono netted one when only 0:04 remained on the clock – that 6-minute silence in the fourth cost them the game.

LEN/Istvan Derencsenyi

How they saw it

Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy as no one could beat Jug by many goals, they always put up a good fight just like today. We had to work hard for this win but at the end we managed to achieve what we wanted. Still, we didn’t play the way I wanted to see, especially in defence, Jug’s ball transition was too easy, too many clear feeds arrived to their centre-forward resulting in easy exclusions, this is something we have to work on for the next match.”

Unai Aguirre Rubio, goalkeeper, Barceloneta

“I’m really proud of my team. Last year we lost to Recco in the last minute of the quarters, and we are happy to be in the semi-final again. We are very excited, and we want to win. Both Novi Beograd and Olympiacos are excellent teams, and it doesn’t matter who comes. Now we need to rest and see who comes next. This season we were good in defence but not so much today. We conceded too many goals. Popadic was excellent today, he saved everything he could in the first quarter. Me too. We were patient in the attack. We reached the first goal. It’s the first day of the Final8 and we showed that we could play well under pressure. Jug ‘s young players showed courage and I think that they can go all the way in two-three years.”

 Unai Biel Lara, player, Barceloneta

“It was a tough game. We wanted to get into the rhythm of the game with less exclusions and more swimming like we prefer, but we need to adapt to the referees’ criteria. We now need to refresh our mind and see who comes. The feeling is amazing.”

Maro Jokovic, captain, Jug

“I think their individual quality was the key. We played well in the first half. We thought we could win. My congratulations to Barceloneta. We conceded two-three easy goals at the beginning of the third quarter which disturbed our concentration. We are satisfied. It was a tough opponent. Our young players wanted this win badly and were eager to give their best. It is a great learning experience for them. As I said before, the individual quality was the decisive factor in the third quarter. We were close but we must not be sad.”

Marko Zuvela, player, Jug

“It was tough. We knew it would be so. They came atop in a very difficult group. We lost concentration in the third quarter… Still, we are satisfied, playing without Fatovic and Krzic… We lost the strength and concentration in the third quarter. We managed to come back to one but missed our chance then. We have to congratulate Barceloneta and turn to the next match.