Jadran ends Ferencvaros’ unbeaten run
Jadran Split put an end to Ferencvaros’ unbeaten run – thanks to some fine defending and a tremendous performance from its goalkeeper Mate Anic. Since Olympiacos had also gone down at home against Brescia on Tuesday, the rankings are as tight as it can be once more as Barceloneta demolished Radnicki in eight minutes, while Novi Beograd showed no mercy against Dinamo Tbilisi.
Group A: Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v AN Brescia (ITA) 5-8, Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) 3-9, Jadran Split (CRO) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 9-7, Novi Beograd (SRB) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) 19-7
Standings: 1. Brescia 23, 2. Novi Beograd 17, 3. Ferencvaros 16, 4. Olympiacos 16, 5. Barceloneta 14, 6. Jadran 9, 7. Radnicki 7, 8. Dinamo 0
In December, the Hungarian v Croatian battles went in favour of the Magyars – now after Jug had thrashed OSC on Tuesday, Jadran also took the upper hand against Ferencvaros. The Croats seemed to find their game by now while it was struggling time for last season’s runner-up side, partly owed to Covid-problems. It was a match of ups and downs, 3-0, 3-3, 7-3, then 9-7 with more than five minutes to play but the goalies, especially Mate Anic came up big. His 13 stops and 65.0% saving percentage was instrumental in Jadran’s third win in the season.
This still might be too late for them to re-join the race for the Final 8 – but it was definitely a blow for the Magyars who had a chance to go three points clear ahead of Olympiacos, instead they need to look backwards now as Barceloneta claimed a great win in Kragujevac. The Serbs beat the Greeks two weeks ago but this time they got nowhere close to that level. Barceloneta routed them in 5:22 minutes, scoring six and killing three man-downs – it stood 0-7 after the first period so the game was over. It was over practically too as the Spaniards focused only on their defence and added only two more goals in the remaining 24 minutes while Radnicki could score its first after more than twenty. This outcome probably derailed the Serbs but put Barceloneta back on track for sure.
Novi Beograd also took advantage of the losses of its closest rivals and by beating Dinamo with ease, the Serbs jumped to the second place in the group – but the remaining five rounds promise outstanding thrills.
Jadran v FTC 9-7
Defences – and especially the goalies – did the bulk of the job in this match, especially at the beginning. Almost six minutes gone without a goal, then Jadran netted two from back-to-back possessions in 57 seconds, before the game returned to its previous path. The Hungarians, playing without their grand maestro Denes Varga, didn’t find their rhythm and when the hosts made it 3-0 deep into the second period, the 2018 champions seemed to be in trouble. Then, after 12 minutes, they managed to open their account with Luca Damonte’s fine shot from a 6 on 5 and they went on scoring, three from four possessions so with 1:10 to go they were back at 3-3. But this remaining 70 seconds were enough for the Croats to restore order – a quick and smart finish from Andelo Setka in a man-up gave them back the lead. With 16 seconds from time, Mile Smodlaka called a time-out and this worked pretty well as Jadran managed to set up Jerko Marinic-Kragic whose brilliant lob doubled the home sides’ advantage by halftime.
And this became even more important as Rino Buric blasted his second from the perimeter 25 seconds into the third so as fast Ferencvaros came back, Jadran replied with three hits from three possessions for 6-3. Marton Vamos made a bad miss in a 6 on 4 on the other end and when Niksa Dobud put away an extra for 7-3, Ferencvaros’ unbeaten run got under the biggest threat in the season. They didn’t give in, though, but it was a bit telling that it was centre-forward Nemanja Ubovic whose 7m shot halted their scoreless run – then Daniil Merkulov brought them closer from a penalty. Soma Vogel had some fine saves, however, he couldn’t have a hand on Dmitri Kholod’s fantastic left-handed action shot 43 seconds before the last break so Jadran turned into the final period with an 8-5 lead.
Ubovic netted an extra, but Kholod stunned Vogel again for 9-6 with 6:27 remaining. Vamos finally found the back of the net from a man-up for 9-7 and then the Magyars had some great chances to put pressure on the hosts, but Mate Anic came up with a series of outstanding saves – so the last five minutes didn’t see more goals (both goalies finished the match with 13 stops apiece, a huge performance). Jadran, after winning only two home matches against the bottom ranked sides in the previous eight rounds, proved its real quality for the first time in the Champions League (besides winning the Croatian Cup) while Ferencvaros lost for the first time in the entire season (all competition involved) and this made the group ranking a lot tighter again.
Radnicki v Barceloneta 3-9
In eight minutes everything was settled – Barceloneta stormed through the first period, scored from almost each of its possessions, netting six in 5:22 minutes. They hit five goals from the perimeter, a penalty and one from a counter, while killed three man-downs in a row. They stopped at 0-7 at the end of the first.
It was a real stop – the Spanish switched to energy-saving mood and focused only on defending – after scoring seven in eight minutes, they added only two in the remaining 24min. At the same time, Radnicki played nowhere close to the level they had shown two weeks ago when they caused the biggest upset of the season by beating Olympiacos. They were totally off the pace, nothing clicked in their offense, the halftime score (0-8) was absolutely unworthy to the Serbian cup-winner. 20:04 minutes gone when they managed to score their first goal and two more followed, all from action while their man-up conversion was 0 for 12.
With this defeat, the Serbs are heading out of the race for the Final 8 while Barceloneta is very much back in the business since Olympiacos and Ferencvaros both lost in this round, thus the gap is only two points now. In two weeks, the Spaniards visit Budapest – a thriller is in sight, for sure.
Novi Beograd v Dinamo 19-7
Apart from a minor set-back in the second period which ended with 2-2 partial score, the Serbs dominated the game as expected. Their 5-0 opening blast did the damage – three came from counters –and even though Dinamo had a better spell afterwards when they could hold on for 5-2 and 6-3 for a while, in the third the Serbs blew them away.
The crashing came in the middle of the third when the hosts netted three connecting goals in 82 seconds to go 11-4 up and from that point the Georgians couldn’t even hope for a tighter result. The Novi Beograd players pushed on, netted all kind of goals and all but one field players left their respective marks in the game report. The win sent the Serbs up to the second place in the group as the closest rivals fell this round. It was a team-scoring record for Novi Beograd, they netted 17 twice, now they stopped at 19.