Jug ends Marseille’s 11-game winning streak
Jug Dubrovnik sent a strong message as the season’s most important phase commences: the Croats managed to end Marseille’s 11-game winning streak with a fine away win in France. OSC put Hannover under some pressure as the Magyars bagged all three points against Crvena Zvezda (the Germans play on Wednesday) while Recco demolished Steaua and only a minor disaster could prevent them from finishing first.
Group B: CN Marseille (FRA) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 12-13, Genesys OSC Budapest (HUN) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 13-9, Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Pro Recco (ITA) 3-14, Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) – Wednesday at 18.15 Standings: 1. Recco 36, 2. Marseille 33, 3. Jug 30, 4. Hannover 17, 5. OSC 16, 6. Spandau 10, 7. Steaua 4, 8. Zvezda 4
Marseille’s brilliant run began in Dubrovnik on Day 2 – after the French lost to Recco at home, they bounced back with a great 9-14 away win in Croatia and didn’t stop winning in the following ten rounds. A 12th triumph would have set them up to an all-in clash for the top spot in Recco – but Jug came up with a completely different performance this evening.
Indeed, the Croats showed some strength in recent rounds (and in December they had already beaten Recco at home) and in Marseille they excelled once more. For three periods their defence was superior, held the French on two goals in the first half and the Croats still led 5-8 before the last break. Then came a 12-goal madness in the final eight minutes, Marseille netted 7, they could equalise twice, but Jug responded well and managed to score in the crucial moments – indeed twice in 52 seconds after 11-11 to secure the victory.
Since Recco blew Steaua away, their encounter against Marseille will not be a ‘winner-takes-it-all’ battle – now the French would need a 7-goal away win, seemingly a mission impossible.
OSC finally won a game at home – lost the previous five – and by bagging all three points against Crvena Zvezda with a fine second-half run the Magyars put some pressure on Hannover which has to beat Spandau on Wednesday in order to secure its F8 berth.
Marseille v Jug 12-13
It turned out quickly that this game would unfold in a different way than their first encounter on Day 2 in Dubrovnik when the French had earned a then-surprising 9-14 victory. That kicked off Marseille’s brilliant run which was lasting ever since – they added ten more wins while the Croats had some ups (including halting Recco’s unbeaten run) and downs (home defeat to OSC) before their game started ticking and they secured their F8 berth.
Now they killed four man-downs in a row after taking the lead and they could keep up this outstanding defending to shut out the hosts for the entire second period. In front, their Greek gang delivered once again, Konstantin Kakaris netted two man-ups in the first period, then Stylianos Argyropoulos scored from action early in the second and Alexandros Papanastasiou also netted a fine one later for 2-5.
When Andrija Prlainovic hit the crossbar from a penalty early in the third and Marko Zuvela converted a 6 on 5 for 2-6, even the group’s second place appeared on Jug’s horizon as a six-goal win would have put them in a good position in comparison (provided they won in the last round in Hannover and Marseille lost to Recco – neither would have been an unexpected outcome). A bit later Ugo Crousillat ended Marseille’s painfully long 11:04-minute drought, but the Croats responded well and still were 5-8 up before the last break.
Then came eight minutes of madness. Four action goals within in less than two minutes set the tone, the hosts scored three of them to cut the deficit to a single goal. Jug buried a 5 on 4 but it was visible that they were running out of gas in the back – Marseille scored with ease from the man-ups at that stage and with 3:10 to go it was all even at 10-10.
Zuvela sent the ball home from Jug’s extra, but Prlainovic was on target too as the Croatian defence could do little to stop the Serbian ace. Credits went to the visitors that they could at least keep their nerves in front and proved to be equally good in the man-up-man-down battle – this time Filip Krzic finished well for 11-12. The next possession ended in a centre-shot, not a 6 on 5 and that was well saved by Toni Popadic while Loren Fatovic used the space and his skills in a 5 on 5 (after a double exclusion) to decide the outcome with a brilliant action goal 40 seconds from time. Thomas Vernoux scored one more from extra, but it came too late, with 0:06 on the clock – so Jug finally halted Marseille’s great run. It was not enough to alter the ranks – the Croats will finish third, but this win served as a strong message for the decisive phase of the season.
OSC v Crvena Zvezda 13-9
If OSC fails to reach the Final Eight, that should be owed to its disastrous home efforts: after they beat Steaua in the opening round, they lost their next five matches, and all were bad 5+ goals beatings (plus the painful default 0-10 against Spandau due to Covid infections). To keep their slimmest hopes alive, they had to bag three points against Zvezda, the team they managed to defeat on Day 2 in Belgrade.
In the first half the Hungarians struggled in offense, a series of bad passes ruined their attacks, while the Serbs also did well in front of their goal and made most of their chances in front (apart from a missed penalty early on). This ended up in a 6-5 first half, OSC jumped to a 2-0 advantage and till the middle break the Serbs could always halved the gap.
This went on till 7-6, when Balazs Harai sold his trademark backhanded shot from the centre, then, after some fine defending, OSC got a man-up and Marton Toth put it away for 9-6. The Serbs missed their next extra, plus their centre-shot was stopped by the goalie so the home side turned into the final period with a three-goal lead.
Marton Levai caught another ball coming from the 2m line, Kristof Varnia netted one from action at the other end for 10-6 and there was no way back for Zvezda. Krisztian Manhercz added two in 43 seconds and later the Magyars built a 6-goal gap before their rivals could pull two back in the finish.
Steaua v Recco 3-14
There was one-way traffic in the pool – and Recco completed its task in eight minutes as it stormed to a 0-5 lead. The second period was a bit more balanced as the Romanians could score twice but based on the agonisingly huge difference in the offensive capacities, it was somewhat a miracle that Steaua lost by only 11 goals. The Romanians had only 10 shots in the game (in total it was 10-30), they could add a single goal in the second half while the Italians made less than half of its shots and still secured their top spot in the group with ease.
Fixtures for Wednesday
(all times are local)
16.45 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Novi Beograd (SRB)
19.00 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Jadran Split (CRO)
19.00 FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
20.15 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v AN Brescia (ITA)
Standings: 1. Brescia 29, 2. Novi Beograd 23, 3. Barceloneta 23, 4. Ferencvaros 22, 4. Olympiacos 19, 6. Radnicki 13, 7. Jadran 9, 8. Dinamo 0
18.15 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)