Olympiacos end Barceloneta’s unbeaten streak, Ferencvaros land crucial win in Brescia

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr / European Aquatics

A brilliant first-half performance and Marko Bijac’s fantastic saves gave Olympiacos the necessary edge to end Barceloneta’s winning streak in the men’s water polo Champions League, while the other favourites Ferencvaros struggled, but a great finish – a 0-4 rush in the fourth – landed them another victory.

Group B

Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10-7 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)
AN Brescia (ITA) 9-11 FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr / European Aquatics

Olympiacos managed to halt Barceloneta’s unbeaten run in the Champions League with a brilliant first half performance, fuelled by a series of outstanding saves by Marko Bijac.

The world champion Croat returned for this match (after being rested for the opening game following his grand march with the national team) and he enjoyed a truly exceptional evening.

Barceloneta created chances, just as many if not more than Olympiacos, but they were unable to put the ball behind Bijac.

Konstantinos Genidounias also had a night to remember, as his outstanding shooting accuracy also made the difference right away in the first period.

He hit two from the perimeter from action, while the Spaniards missed some great opportunities, including a penalty where Marc Larumbe failed to grab the ball for the shot.

Then a bit later, when they managed to launch a counter, again Bijac made a crucial save and the ensuing ‘re-counter’ ended in a penalty which Genidounias buried with ease – so the Greeks led 4-2 after eight minutes.

And they extended their lead to four in the second while shutting out Barceloneta for the whole period.

A finely played man-up, followed by an outstanding goal by Genidounias made it 6-2 while their rivals missed three more six on fives and Bijac also stopped a penalty.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr / European Aquatics

Before the Greeks were able to get too comfortable, Alberto Munarriz stepped up and his two distant pinpoint shots seemed to have broken the Bijac Magic, and also halved the deficit in a span of 57 seconds.

However, it turned out that Barceloneta’s surge was short-lived, as Dimitrios Dimou came up with two brilliant shots of his own to reset the four-goal gap before the final quarter – and again, the Greek defence killed three man-downs.

Barceloneta started the fourth in a similar way, with Anthony Pavillard and Munarriz managing to heat up the match once more with distant blasts for 8-6, but again, the Greeks could find a way to reply.

They forced a penatly and Marton Vamos sent it home, so it was 9-6 with 4:18 to go.

Olympiacos didn’t want to take any further risks while keeping up a fine level of defending, including a couple more stops from Bijac, who finished the evening with a brilliant 63.2% save percentage.

The Spaniards could pull one back only 1:17 from time, as Felipe Perrone finally buried a penalty, however, Genidounias closed the match with another action goal, it was his fifth, securing a crucial victory for Olympiacos.

It truly was a sensational performance from the home team captain and you could see from the way he celebrated in the pool what this result meant to him and his side.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr / European Aquatics

Brescia also looked up to the task in the other encounter, with Max Irving making it seem so easy by putting away two man-ups, first from the left, then from the right, to make it 2-0 in a matter of 90 seconds.

The Hungarians settled soon, though, as Adam Nagy’s shot just crept over the line in the dying seconds of a man-up, then Vendel Vigvari had a clean finish from a counter for 2-2.

Francesco Faraglia’s pinpoint shot gave the lead back to the hosts, but a second attempt from a late six on five by Gergo Fekete brought the sides level again.

After an action-packed opening period, the goals dried up in the second, with Brescia missing two extras before Alessandro Balzarini netted an action goal from a fine drive.

Ferencvaros were finding the Italians’ hard defending difficult to penetrate, but they still equalised from Dusan Mandic’s blast 46 seconds before the half-time buzzer.

Irving buried a penalty for 5-4 in the third, then Brescia missed the chance to double their lead on man-up, while Nagy’s one-timer in FTC’s six on five was good for a goal in the middle of the quarter.

Zoltan Pohl then stepped up on extra to give the Magyars the lead for the first time in the match at 5-6.

And Soma Vogel’s tremendous save in another man-down prevented the hosts from levelling the scores just before the last break.

The goal to tie the game came early in the fourth, though, as Irving broke Brescia’s silence with a spectacular distant shot, but Toni Nemet put away an extra immediately for 6-7.

Balzarini could also put one away, after three missed man-ups, then he made it again with 4:39 to go to regain the advantage for the Italians at 8-7.

Erik Molnar then collected a loose ball and fired in a precious action goal in a dying possession, and after Vogel’s big stop from a centre shot, Mandic sent the ball home from a man-up for 8-9 with 3:27 left to play.

Brescia wasted a crucial six on five and the Hungarians then had a ‘match ball’ – a man-up with 1:15 on the clock.

They made it, as Stylianos Argyropoulos’ first shot was saved by Tesanovic, but the second was impossible to catch.

Brescia called a time-out with 0:50 on the clock, went for a seven on five, missed it and Fekete closed down the contest with a 26m shot to the empty net.

This completed a 0-4 run for Ferencvaros to maintain their unbeaten streak across all competitions – a late penalty goal from Brescia only shaped the very same scoreline, 9-11, what FTC also produced while beating Olympiacos in the opening round.

Follow all the Champions League Men’s Water Polo Quarter Final Stage action and results live on the dedicated European Aquatics Champions League website.