Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 7-10
In 27 seconds, Dusan Banicevic opened Sabadell’s account, which had been ‘in use’ for the last time back in 2018 when the Spanish were part of the show. However, it took 16 seconds for their rivals to make it even, Stylianos Argyropoulos buried a penalty and soon Toni Nemet added a goal from the centre. From that point, the game offered a single pattern: the Hungarians took the lead, and the hosts tried to equalise.
It took a while until they came back to 3-3 – no goals were scored in the last four minutes of the opening quarter and in the first four of the second, the offences did not click properly in that phase. A quick exchange of fine action goals followed for 4-4, then came the first turning point: after Soma Vogel denied Bernat Sanahuja in a man-down, Ferencvaros made two man-ups in 79 seconds to go 4-6 up (the second was hit with 0:03 to go).
That changed the pattern, in the third Sabadell had to fight to halve the distance from time to time. Kanstantin Averka opened the second half with a brilliant blast, but Luca Damonte’s shot from the distance 28 seconds later reset the two-goal cushion. Sanahuja’s next ball in a 6 on 5 found the back of the net for 6-7, but Denes Varga offered some appetiser of his unique skills once more with an untimely perimeter shot. It was still 5:30 minutes to play in this period but again a long and scoreless fight ensued, and the next hit came when 50 seconds remained on the clock. Then Francisco Valera put away an extra after a time-out, so Sabadell trailed by only one before the last break.
And the Spanish were really close to equalise once more – but they were simply unable to beat Ferencvaros’ goalie. Vogel delivered four tremendous saves in the opening minutes of the final period, once he caught two balls in two seconds, then a fifth and a sixth one, both in a man-down while Daniil Merkulov sent the ball home from a 6 on 5 for 7-9 with 4:15 to go. Mesmerized by Vogel, the Sabadell players couldn’t do the same. Either from close in another man-up, then in a rare but easier 5 on 4, they were off the target. Posts and missed shots followed as they tried to find a way to bypass Vogel’s magical hands – while Szilard Jansik’s pinpoint 6m shot decided the game with 2:12 to go.
Alone in the fourth period the Spaniards missed 5 man-ups – Vogel finished the game with 13 stops on 20 shots for a 65% saving percentage, a game-winning effort for sure from the European silver medallist netminder.
How they saw it
Quim Colet, coach, Sabadell
“Victories of course are great and desired but for this very young team it is the competition which is really important. And we were competitive from the first minute till the last against a very strong Ferencvaros. So even if it’s better to win, but I’m very happy with the team. Now we took one step up, need to work hard to play even better in our next game.”
Zsolt Varga, coach, FTC
“Congratulations to Sabadell, they played a very good and very organised game. My team’s performance was not so good, we played well in one period and rather badly in the following one. Though I’m not really surprised since this match was the first really hard game of the season and you need to adjust to that. At the end we won, which is great, now we have to go forward and work hard to improve our level.”