Day 5, Group B: CN Marseille (FRA) v Novi Beograd (SRB) 13-17
The first period brought a no-load-just-shoot game – and nine goals as a result. Marseille took a 2-1 lead, the Serbs hit back, then netted two in 49 seconds after 3-3 but the hosts’ Serb Andrija Prlainovic pulled one back with 10 seconds before the first break.
Dusan Mandic buried a penalty early in the second, then one goal came at both ends in a span of 20 seconds. At 5-7, the home side missed two man-ups and that proved to be crucial. Just like in the first period, the last two goals came from NBG’s outstanding foreigners Angelos Vlachopoulos and Alvaro Granados. The Spaniard’s goal was special, an incredible backhander from 6m, hitting the back of the net with 0:01 remaining – that gave a commanding 6-9 lead for the F8 hosts.
Marseille were now forced into a chasing game and that took its toll. It was both physically and mentally draining that they came back to two goals three times, but Granados replied twice, then Dimitrios Skoumpakis netted an extra with 49 seconds from time – so the hosts couldn’t come any closer before the final period (9-12).
And after just 29 seconds into the fourth, Vlachopoulos netted another action goal for 9-13 which did the damage. Marseille missed another extra and couldn’t score for four more minutes while the Greek duo of Vlachopoulos and Skoumpakis delivered one apiece in 49 seconds a bit later. At 9-15, with only four minutes remaining, all seemed to have lost for Marseille. However, soon the French – facing an unavoidable defeat – started playing without any pressure and in two minutes they scored four from as many possessions to make it 13-15 with 1:46 to go.
The chance for a miracle lasted only 31 seconds as Dusan Mandic’s fine shot from the right wing made its way to the far corner with 1:17 remaining. At the end Granados hit his 5th goal of the game to beat the buzzer to seal another great win for Novi Beograd. All in all, though NBG features the crème de le crème of the Serbian water polo, this time their three foreigners (Granados, Vlachopoulos and Skoumpakis) produced 11 of their 17 goals.
How they saw it
Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille
“It was a great game and a great performance from Novi Beograd. I thought we had a chance to win but it’s really difficult to be behind for almost all the time. We tried to stay in the game and that’s a hard job against such a great team. They showed why there are one of the best teams in the world. My players also tried their best, to reach the level we have to in games like this. I saw many good things from the team but also problems which we need to pay more attention to in our following trainings.”
Zivko Gocic, coach, Novi Beograd
“As I said before the game, it’s not realistic that Marseille has only four points. It was a tough game, we had to work hard in transition, in defence and in offence too. I have to congratulate to my players, they did a fantastic effort to win this game. It’s not only the three points what matters but also the great start we took in this new year.”