There was no way back for the sides having lost the first leg: the favourites didn’t make any mistake in the return matches, Brescia, OSC and Jadran advanced to the main round just like last year, and Vouliagmeni join the show for the first time.
Panionios GSS (GRE) v Genesys-OSC Budapest (HUN) 11-12 – Aggregate: 18-29
NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v CN Noisy Le Sec (FRA) 9-12 – Aggregate: 26-23
CSM Oradea (ROU) v Jadran Split (CRO) 11-12 – Aggregate: 14-21
AN Brescia (ITA) v A Hid-Vasas-Plaket Budapest (HUN) 11-8 – Aggregate: 23-18
If any of last week’s losers could have had something in mind about a stunning turn of fortunes, it was Hungary’s Vasas which was trailing by two goals only – though they had been defeated at home last Saturday. And Brescia, semi-finalist last season, made it clear right away that they didn’t want to offer even a glimpse of hope for the Hungarians and stormed to a 5-1 lead early in the second. Later they were 9-3 up when their rivals could score three in a row, but the Italians never let them any closer.
The other three encounters had even less excitements since the first legs all saw huge differences. Jadran and OSC both managed to score double wins – and both snatched an away victory with the same margin, 11-12. The Croats beat Oradea – a commanding 0-4 start set the tone, though the Romanians fought themselves back and late in the fourth they took the lead at 11-10 but the last two were hit by the favourites. Hero of the European Championship final in Split in September, Jerko Marinic-Kragic netted the winner 42 seconds from time.
OSC followed a similar pattern, after an early 0-3 rush they let the Greeks back to the game and Panionios managed to go ahead from time to time, however, after 11-10 the Hungarians scored twice. Here Krisztian Manhercz – who bagged 7 a week ago – sent the ball home to win the game for OSC (it was his 4th in this match), with 2:31 to go.
Only Noisy managed to gain a consoling victory in Athens – but only after Vouliagmeni, having won the first leg by six goals, rallied to a 4-1 lead in eight minutes. The French managed to come back to even and then scored the last three goals after 9-9 in the last 2:30 minutes.
The four winners are about to appear on the big stage in ten days when the Champions League main round action kicks off, while the four losing sides can continue their respective European journeys in the eight-finals of the Euro Cup – here the draw is due on Monday.
For details, play-by-play, stats and more, visit www.championsleague.len.eu
Main round, composition of the groups
Group A: Pro Recco (ITA), Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP), Waspo 98 Hannover (GER), Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB), Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO), Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE), Jadran Split (CRO), NC Vouliagmeni (GRE)
Fixtures, 1st round (15 November): Olympiacos v Recco, Radnicki v Vouliagmeni, Dinamo v Barceloneta, Hannover v Jadran
Group B: Novi Beograd (SRB), FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN), CN Marseille (FRA), Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO), Astralpool Sabadell (ESP), Spandau 04 Berlin (GER), Genesys-OSC Budapest (HUN), AN Brescia (ITA)
Fixtures, 1st round (16 November): Spandau v Novi Beograd, Jug v Brescia, Sabadell v FTC, Marseille v OSC