NBG’s great start and big finish leaves no chance for Brescia

Credit to: European Aquatics/István Derencsényi

Group A: AN Brescia (ITA) v Novi Beograd (SRB) 8- 13

Two frequent F8 participants clashed in this game, both of whom were drawn to the same group for the third consecutive year. Last season, both sides won at home (unlike in the preceding one) – but the summer transfers made the Serbs the favourite in this encounter.

They started it in commanding style – after three minutes, during which there was one missed man-up at both ends, NBG scored three consecutive goals in just 81 seconds for a 0-3 lead. This prompted an emergency timeout from Sandro Bovo and that helped as Brescia got on the scoreboard immediately. Max Irving hit one from the distance to make it 2-3. Milos Cuk’s blast from a 6 on 5 made it 2-4 with a minute to go. And then a quick exchange of man-up goals kicked off the second period.

The pattern remained the same, Brescia pulled one back, NBG replied, and the sides barely missed extras in this phase. The hosts were 3 for 4, and NBG went 3 for 3. An action goal apiece also electrified the atmosphere in the pool. The crowd was really noisy as this quarter produced nine goals – and with a late penalty shot Brescia came back to 7-8. They even had a fifth man-up in the last twenty seconds but missed it.

However, two minutes into the third quarter, they were back to even as Jacopo Alesiani netted a dying extra (which was a 6 on 4 for some seconds) for 8-8. The Serbs didn’t panic, they missed their next 6 on 5 but their defence worked well. Brescia found it hard again to create chances, let alone earn exclusions.

Then, after four minutes of tough battling, NBG had a 6 on 5 again, and this time Nikola Lukic sent the ball home with 1:40 from time for 8-9. Just like in the previous period, the home side missed its last extra at the end of the quarter – and that proved to be crucial.

NBG opened the last period with a buried penalty for 8-10. They missed two man-ups, but the Italians also blew theirs – and that had dire consequences. Alvaro Granados finally found the back of the net from NBG’s man-up, so instead of 9-10, it stood 8-11. After a counter Filip Filipovic scored another one from a penalty 46 seconds later. It was over, and Brescia was down by then – the Italians missed two more extras in the remaining time while Angelos Vlachopoulos completed NBG’s run with a fine action goal.

It was telling that after 8-8, the Serbs staged a 0-5 run while Brescia remained scoreless in the last 14:08 minutes of the game.

Comments from the coaches

Alessandro Bovo, coach, Brescia

“We played a very good game. Of course, the last part wasn’t that good, but we played against a very good team which has great players in every position. Still, I’m happy with our performance.”

Zivko Gocic, coach,

“The game was very tough as we expected. It was a very difficult match against a great team, so I’m very satisfied with this win. We had a big fight in the water, not surprisingly, so I’m very happy that we could go home with three points in our bag.”