Day 7, Group B: Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 11-12
Spandau had already stunned Ferencvaros on Day 5 and the Germans were not far away from causing another huge upset – however, they couldn’t handle the endgame that well this time.
At the beginning it was Spandau all the way, the hosts rushed to a 3-0 lead before Jug could get on the scoreboard, after 6:32 minutes. Marko Zuvela quickly delivered two fine goals early in the second to level the score, then Dmitri Kholod netted an extra and Spandau denied Jug in two man-downs within 40 seconds. Kholod added another one after Filip Krzic committed two fouls at once for a penalty (and was ejected), still, the Croats could come back once more to 5-5 by halftime.
And Zuvela was on fire, hit his fourth to put Jug ahead for the first time one minute into the third and after a quick equaliser Loren Fatovic converted another one for 6-7. The Croats missed a 6 on 4 a bit later and that was crucial as Roman Shepelev put away a dying 6 on 5. After Spandau’s goalie Laszlo Baksa came up with a couple of extraordinary saves – including a fantastic stop in a one-on-one –, Marin Restovic retook the lead for the hosts two seconds before the last break.
Baksa delivered another catch in a man-down and when Shepelev sent the ball home from their extra, Jug was in trouble at 9-7. Their next 6 on 5 seemed to be doomed, after a save only four seconds remained, however, a clever play earned them a penalty and Fatovic made no mistake. 35 seconds later it was even again, thanks to an action goal from Zuvela. Spandau held on, though, Shepelev converted a man-up for 10-9, but Fatovic was also on target from another nice play, so it stood 10-10 with 3:25 remaining.
The next possession of the hosts brought the turning point: the refs waved on after the defenders won the battle for the ball in the centre, Spandau’s Mateo Cuk punched his defender, and the officials called brutality. That came with severe consequences: a 4-minute expulsion and a penalty shot. The latter was buried by Zuvela – it was his 6th in the evening – but more painfully Spandau had to play five on six in offence in the remaining time. Still, they forced a 5 on 4 soon (earned back-to-back exclusions), but failed to put it away while Ivan Vukojevic scored with ease at the other end (Baksa asked for being substituted for a while as he got injured a bit, so he was out of the pool during this action).
With 1:15 to go, at 10-12, Jug seemed to have secured all three points, but Spandau could earn an exclusion again and this time Kholod scored in 5 on 5 for 11-12, with 55 seconds from time. Jug called for a timeout, they’d rather play with the time in 6 on 5, their finish wasn’t the best, and Spandau had 26 seconds to save the game to a tie. Baksa tried his luck with a long pass to set up their attacker, but he didn’t find him, the Croats recollected the ball and sailed away with this hard-fought win.
How they saw it
Athanasios Kechagias, coach, Spandau
“Congratulations to my players, they fought till the last second of the match – it was a good game for both teams, this is the only thing I can say now. I don’t want to add anything regarding the referees, you watched the game, you saw everything.”
Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug
“The only thing we can be satisfied with is the win and the three points – of course, this is the most important. After the break we didn’t play on the level we had been before.
We made a lot of mistakes in attack, we lost a player early because he made a really bad choice. If there had been no brutality foul by a Spandau player, I don’t think we could have won this game. Now I’m a little bit concerned regarding our shape and the behaviour of some of our players.”