Teams having qualified last season to the main round, Jadran Split (CRO), OSC (HUN) and Brescia (ITA) made the play-offs once more, and they all finished atop in their respective groups. A bit surprisingly France’s Noisy-Le Sec also topped its group – here Oradea (ROU) caused the biggest upset by grabbing the second spot ahead of Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) and CN Barcelona (ESP).
The group of ‘Death’ in Split produced a series of thrilling contests as expected. Host Jadran finally won all their four matches, however, the favourite Croats had to push hard to beat Sabac (SRB) 14-13, where the winning goal came 23 seconds from time and needed a 4-1 blast in the last period to turn their match against Vasas (HUN). The Hungarians clinched the second qualifying spot by beating Savona (ITA) 9-8 – they led 7-1 deep into the third before the Italians staged a late surge but their last goal came only in the dying seconds.
A big drama unfolded in Barcelona where France’s Noisy-Le Sec posted a perfect record thanks to a couple of fine wins, while the fight for the second place ended in a three-way tie and Romania’s Oradea went through. On the closing day, the Romanians stunned host CN Barcelona (ESP) with a brilliant 12-6 victory with a 5-1 rush in the second half.
Group C didn’t offer any less excitements. After Tourcoing (FRA) had caused one of the big upsets of the weekend by scoring the last five goals and beating OSC (HUN) 10-7, the French were 9 seconds away from making the cut in the encounter against Vouliagmeni (GRE). However, the Greeks netted the game winner in the two sides’ epic match on Sunday in the dying second to catch the second place with a 14-13 win. OSC then thrashed host Primorac (MNE) to finish atop in the group.
The other Greek side Panionios also qualified thanks to a late winner – it was netted 1:47min from time against Mladost (CRO) for a decisive 7-6 victory; here last season’s semi-finalist Brescia (ITA) bagged four wins with ease.
The draw will take place on Monday – the four group winners are to be paired against the second ranked sides (teams now in the same group cannot face each other). The four play-off victors will make the main round, while the losers will play in the Euro Cup eight-finals. Clubs ranked third or below in this round enter the draw for the Euro Cup second qualifying round.
Champions League, Qualification Round II
Group A (Split)
1. Jadran Split (CRO) 12, 2. A Hid Vasas-Plaket (HUN) 9, 2. RN Savona (ITA) 6, 4. VK Sabac (SRB) 3, 5. Steaua Bucharest (ROU) 0
Group B (Barcelona)
1. CN Noisy-Le Sec (FRA) 12, 2. CSM Oradea (ROU) 6, 3. Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) 6, 4. CN Barcelona (ESP) 6, 5. Vitoria Guimaraes (POR) 0
Three-way tie, goal differences: Oradea +5, Jadran 0, Barcelona –5
Group C (Kotor)
1. Genesys-OSC Budapest (HUN) 6, 2. NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 6, 3. EN Tourcoing (FRA) 4, 4. Primorac Kotor (MNE) 1
Tie for the first place: OSC v Vouliagmeni 13-9
Group D (Athens)1. AN Brescia (ITA) 12, 2. Panionios GSS (GRE) 9, 3. HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) 6, 4. EVK Zaibas (LTU) 3, 5. ASC Duisburg (GER) 0