Olympiacos end FTC’s winning streak, Barceloneta brush Brescia aside

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

Olympiacos Piraeus halted Ferencvaros’ incredible unbeaten run and even took the top spot from the Hungarians in Group B. Elsewhere, Barceloneta were unstoppable in Brescia, with the Spaniards grabbing their last chance to stay in contention for the Final Four, while the Italians are eliminated.

Champions League Men Quarter Final Stage
Group B Results – Tuesday 23rd April 2024
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10-8 FTC-Telekom (HUN)
AN Brescia (ITA) 5-12 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 9, 2. FTC 9, 3. Barceloneta 6, 4. Brescia 0

Fixtures for Wednesday
Group A
(local times shown)
19.00 Jadran Split (CRO) v VK Novi Beograd (SRB)
20.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v Pro Recco (ITA)
Standings: 1. Recco 8, 2. Novi Beograd 7, 3. Marseille 3, 4. Jadran 0

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

Ferencvaros’ remarkable winning streak this season came to an end in Greece on Tuesday night, as finally – after 33 matches – they left the pool defeated.

Their slayers were Olympiacos, who showed some tremendous defending to win a tight contest, and the result also sees them leapfrog the Hungarians at the top of the table.

For four minutes, shots were rare, as both defences worked really well.

The opening goal from FTC also came after an attack was halted, but a backpass after a steal landed in Szilard Jansik’s grateful hand – as he was yet to swim back – and he took full advantage of the opportunity.

The Hungarians killed three man-downs in a row, but failed to put away theirs and Konstantinos Genidounias put Olympiacos on the scoreboard after seven long minutes.

For a while, it was a balanced match, Fradi managed to deny another Greek extra, and even though Marton Vamos buried a penalty, Dusan Mandic quickly equalised from a 6 on 5.

What came next was not on the cards – however, it proved to be decisive in the long run…

Nikolaos Gkillas hit two from action, and Vamos put away a man-up between those goals, so the hosts had opened up a 5-2 lead at half-time.

Denes Varga started the third with a brilliant action shot, Genidounias hit the post from a 6 on 5, then Mandic sent the ball home from the next man-up for 5-4, so the visitors only needed 58 seconds to get back close.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

However, Dimitrios Dimou’s wristshot from the perimeter killed the group leaders’ momentum, and after three minutes of extreme battling, it was the Greeks again who added another goal.

Alexandros Papanastasiou showed up in a new position in a 6 on 5, on the 2m line, and his push shot from among the defenders sailed over the goal line to reset the three-goal gap at 7-4.

Zoltan Pohl pulled one back from a counter-like attack, but the luck was with Papantasiou’s side once more, as his shot just crept over the line – and Olympiacos looked to have some comfort at 8-5 with eight minutes remaining.

Stylianos Argyropoulos finished off a 6 on 5 early on, but this time FTC were unable to produce a similar surge as in the third.

A rebound in a 6 on 5 found Dimitrios Nikolaidis, who put the ball away for 9-6.

Ferencvaros’ offence wasn’t clicking like in previous games, and they were outshot by the Greeks significantly – after three periods the total was 25-15 and 17-10 on goal – so it was no surprise that Olympiacos’ win was not really in danger.

Add that the Greek defence worked really well, they could neutralise two more man-downs in the fourth and Gkillas netted his third for 10-6 with 2:26 to go.

Then the finish recalled the two sides’ first match in Budapest, where the Magyars outplayed their rivals, but the Greeks halved the distance late on after falling back by four.

Here, again somewhat surprisingly, Ferencvaros did the very same as Edoardo di Somma’s shot from distance just beat the buzzer, and Marko Bijac, and just 29 seconds later, Gergo Fekete scored another from a counter for 10-8.

This result puts the two teams level on points in the group, but Olympiacos are ranked first as they’ve scored two goals more in total, which makes the remaining two rounds even more thrilling.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

Later on Tuesday, in Brescia, three action goals kicked off the hosts’ encounter with Barceloneta.

Alberto Munarriz’s nice lob gave the lead to Barceloneta, but the Italians responded with a fine double, in a span of 47 seconds – Tommasso Gianazza netted one from the centre and a small space was enough for Max Irving to make it 2-1.

Soon the first man-ups were called, but both sides wasted two apiece.

Brescia’s second miss had worse consequences, as Bernat Sanahuja rushed away to net the equaliser from a counter.

Alejandro Bustos converted a second attempt from close in a 6 on 5, so the Spaniards led 2-3 after the first quarter.

The hosts couldn’t capitalise on their third man-up, but at the other end, Miguel de Toro put one away quickly to double Barceloneta’s lead.

The Spanish defence denied another man-down (Brescia stood 0 for 4 here), and after a fine centre action, Felipe Perrone buried a penalty shortly afterwards for 2-5.

Alessandro Balzarini halted Brescia’s bad run by putting away a 6 on 4 – it was a nine-minute long silence, but Alberto Munarriz’s distant blast was a perfect response.

A big block in a man-down prevented CNAB from expanding the gap to four goals, but only temporarily.

Again, as a sharp contrast, Unai Aguirre dealt with three perimeter shots within a single possession, while Sanahuja needed only one attempt from 7m to give a 3-7 lead to Barceloneta at half-time.

And the Spaniards never let the home side back in the game.

Roger Tahull added another one from an extra, their defence went on killing man-downs and Luke Pavillard hit one from action for 3-9.

Indeed, Brescia were lacking everything this evening what made this side a constant threat even to the big fishes in recent years (they may also were feeling the post-effects of their gruelling shootout win over Recco in the Italian Cup final last weekend).

They were unable to penetrate Barceloneta’s defence, were 1 from 8 in man-ups in three periods, and after the first nine-minute scoreless phase, they had an even longer barren spell, lasting 14:32 minutes, including the entire third period.

In the meantime, Munarriz scored two more early in the fourth, Sanahuja added one too, making Brescia’s elimination not only painful, but a bit bad-looking too.

This seven-goal margin is by far the largest among the away victories in the Quarter Final Stage.

At the same time, with this outstanding away win, Barceloneta bounced back from their back-to-back defeats and will have a huge showdown with Olympiacos in the next round.

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