Day 10, Group B – Novi Beograd (SRB) v CN Marseille (FRA) 11-4
The French could taste the sweetness of victory in the last round once more as they had beaten Sabadell. But to stage a big last surge to make the cut they should have pulled off a miracle in Belgrade, in the pool they had played in the previous two editions of the the Final 8.
Two 6m blasts, by NBG’s foreign master-shooters Dmitrios Skoumpakis and Alvaro Granados, kicked off the game in style – the French needed five and a half minutes to open the scoring. They could have equalised but missed a late man-up and Dusan Mandic buried a penalty NBG earned 5 seconds from time for 3-1.
Marseille had a better spell in the second, they could tone down the hosts’ formidable offence for more than five minutes, while Vladan Spaic netted a man-up for 3-2. However, Angelos Vlachopoulos finally broke the ice, also from a 6 on 5, to make it 4-2 and Spaic’s next attempt from close range in an extra was well saved by Joao Fernandez.
The battle continued after the halftime break, Marseille’s performance was way better than on many previous occasions, Ante Vukicevic halved the distance once more with a fine action shot. The French had a possession to go even, but a steal denied their counter and the ‘re-counter’ ended in a goal, by Radomir Drasovic. Just 27 seconds later NBG were 6-3 up after earning a penalty from another counter, converted by Granados. Marseille missed a crucial 6 on 5 and with 56 seconds to go Drasovic hit one from a man-up for 7-3. And it wasn’t even the end of this period as there was time to claim another penalty, and Drasovic made no mistake with 0:01 on the clock – and this 4-0 rush by the hosts put the game in bed.
The fourth saw no goals for more than five minutes, the French missed two more 6 on 5s as they couldn’t beat Fernandez is the home side’s goal – the Brazilian posted 12 saves on 16 shots for 75%. And as the game was approaching its end, Novi Beograd added three late goals in a span of 90 seconds to make the evening even more bitter for Marseille which are losing their hopes to return to the Serbian capital at the end of the season.
How they saw it
Zivko Gocic, coach, Novi Beograd
“It was a very tough game till the last moment, but it was especially tough and intensive in the first half. We played well in defence, reacted well to this physical style of game Marseille like to imply and dominated the match in the third and fourth quarters. We are very satisfied with these three points.”
Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille
“We did well in the first half but many of our players were part of their respective national teams, played a lot of games in the past weeks and our team wasn’t in the best physical condition because of this. We should have had more strength to be competitive with Novi Beograd, also, we missed a lot of extramen, some players should have taken more responsibility in crucial situations.”