Recco’s defence brings title-defence one step closer

LEN/Istvan Derencsenyi

Quarter-finals: Pro Recco (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 8-4

Though FTC opened the scoring with a fine shot from Daniil Merkulov, Recco responded with a blast, Andrea Fondelli fired one from 6m, then, after a killed man-down, Aaron Younger converted their first man-up and Ben Hallock hit a nice one from the centre for 3-1. But that was it, no more followed in the remaining 4:44 miutes in the first, while Vendel Vigvari pulled one back from action, after giving away the ball in a 6 on 4. The Hungarians had two more man-ups, but they were unable to beat Marco del Lungo, so it stood 3-2 after eight minutes.

Younger kicked off the second with his second man-up goal, Soma Vogel was yet to make his first save, while Lungo denied the Magyars in another man-down. Then again, twice, so the inevitable came soon when Giacomo Cannella finished another man-up – they stood 3 for 3 while FTC were 0 for 7 at this stage, mirrored by the scoreboard (5-2). Vogel then came up with his first save in a one-on-one, but this outstanding top only prevented Recco from expanding the gap to four as his team-mates were unable to score in the entire period.

LEN/Istvan Derencsenyi

The third began a bit differently, Recco missed a 6 on 4 badly while Gergo Fekete ended FTC’s 13:35min long drought by netting a man-up. Recco’s shots were flying all over the place and soon Merkulov finished off a 6 on 4 for 5-4. It was FTC’s former sniper Gergo Zalanki who halted Recco’s 6min-long scoreless period from a man-up – then Stylianos Argyropoulos ‘redirect’ the game to its original path as his ball was easily denied by del Lungo in a man-up, then Zalanki was left enough room to blow up another bomb in the net for 7-4, this time from action. 

Enjoying a three-goal lead with eight minutes to go, it was hard to see Recco losing this – del Lungo stood with 14/18 (78%), though thanks to his defenders, many of those were easy catches.

Ferencvaros went on struggling in front – Denes Varga missed his 7th shot early in the fourth, an unusual stat from him – and two minutes into the last period Recco could go for a four-goal lead after a time-out but incoming goalie Daniel Szakonyi denied Gonzalo Echenique. Instead, Nicholas Presciutti made it 8-4 with a fine lob a bit later as the Hungarians were unable to create any danger. Both sides missed a couple of man-ups as the level of concentration and the reserves were going down – though it did not matter as the game was decided by that 8th goal, if not earlier.
Recco made the semis for the 8th consecutive time while FTC are missing the top four for the first time after their first three appearances ended with a medal.

LEN/Istvan Derencsenyi

How they saw it

Sandro Sukno, coach, Recco

“I’m absolutely satisfied with the way we played, how we defended but also our attacks worked really well. We were keeping the game under control from the beginning till the end, this is how you should play a game like this.”

Zsolt Varga, coach, Ferencvaros

“I cannot be dissatisfied with the eight goals we conceded, however the four are too few for sure. We tried hard, we tried to figure out how to beat their goalie, but we couldn’t really find the way to score. This happens in games like this, against teams like Recco. They played a superb defence, and the physical battle worn our players out. For this season, we had less options in offence and that took its toll at this last stage of the season when team depth really matters – and in that regard Recco were in definite advantage.”

Francesco di Fulvio, player, Recco

“It was an excellent match. Sure, there were various mistakes here and there, but you can’t play a perfect game for 32 minutes. We have to keep growing throughout this tournament. I would like to congratulate my team for this great performance. The defence was excellent, our goalkeeper ‘closed the curtain’ on his goal and played a super match. I think we had a 13-6 exclusions ratio against us but our man-down worked well. The opening of the match was great too. Tomorrow’s game will be difficult. Everybody says it’s already done but that’s not true. We met them in the group stage, and we had difficulties in those games, so we need to start preparing for it right this evening.” 

Marco del Lungo, goalkeeper, Recco

“It was an excellent match, especially in defence which is our strong point. The percentage of our man-down was high. We kept our calmness, and we used every chance we got. Vougliameni is somewhat of a surprise. We have to be careful not to underestimate them. They are coached by a true legend of our sport Vado Vujasinovic.”

Gergo Fekete, player, FTC

“First, I must say we have no excuses, the weather or anything. It was the same for everybody and it was not the reason for our bad match. Our man-up was not precise, I think our efficacy was less than 30% and you can’t win like that. It is hard to say anything right now. I am truly disappointed. I could say more after reviewing the match. Our dream here is done and finished. We must try to regroup for tomorrow, I will also try to fix my mistakes.”

Vendel Vigvari, player, FTC

“It was their massive defence, that made the difference. We had prepared some man-up solutions but unfortunately those didn’t work. I am really sad right now. We had some opportunities at the beginning, but we didn’t use them. What we showed just wasn’t enough against Recco or anyone at this level.”