Day 8, Group B – Novi Beograd (SRB) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 16-11
The Serbian super squad had to overcome some demanding weeks when many of their key players struggled with illness and injuries – a loss to Ferencvaros marked the lowest point of this trying phase, but by now most of the greats returned to the pool (only the best one, Nikola Jaksic is still recovering). Ten days ago there were a bit far from their prime: while NBG barely played a match this season where their tremendous offence didn’t hit double digits, on Day 7 they could score only eight goals in Sabadell. Still won the match 6-8, thanks to their great defending.
Just to put that into perspective, now in Belgrade it stood 8-7 at halftime. Sabadell did well once more at the beginning, despite falling 4-2 behind after eight minutes, they went on battling and after 7-4 they netted three connecting goals in 88 seconds for 7-7. Strahinja Rasovic’s fine action goal gave the lead back to the hosts with 0:18 on the clock.
Early in the third a quick exchange of goals kept the visitors close at 9-8, but then came the first blow by the hosts, a quick double. The first hit was delivered by their Spaniard, Alvaro Granados, 42 seconds later Dusko Pijetlovic’s brilliant lob from the centre sent NBG ahead by three for the first time. Kanstantin Avera put away an extra for 11-9, but Radomir Drasovic was also on target in the hosts’ next 6 on 5, and despite some heroics from Sabadell in back-to-back man-downs in the last minute, Angelos Vlachopoulos could find the back of the net in the last second after getting a rebound.
Twenty-six seconds into the fourth Dimitrios Skoumpakis blasted one from 6m for 14-9 to send a strong message to Sabadell that the game was over. It was indeed, one goal apiece came in 28 seconds soon, then again, late in the match, so the five-goal gap remained till the end.
Zivko Gocic, coach, NBG
“First of all, we got three points, this is the most important. In the first half, I wasn’t that happy with our defence, but this changed for the second half when we conceded only four goals. That was the major difference between the two halves. This is sport, so you cannot be on top all the time – here winning the match was our ultimate goal and we achieved that.
Quim Colet, coach, Sabadell