Vouliagmeni could even afford missing two penalties

Day 7, Group A: Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 11-14

After five straight defeats, Hannover came back to life with an 11-14 away win in Tbilisi. Meeting Vouliagmeni twice in ten days and playing at home first gave them some hope that despite the bad start, the newly shaped German team may reach the F8 once again. Last season Waspo’s run to Belgrade was based on their strong home performance – now they lost 4 out of 4 in their pool, and especially this last defeat may cost them a lot.

The hosts did well in the first eight minutes and led 4-3, despite a missed penalty. The Greeks also wasted one, in the last seconds, but made it up right away in the following quarter, in the first possession to go back to 4-4. Then Dimitrios Nikolaidis failed to put away a second penalty, but that did not matter too much either since Nikolaos Papasifakis hit two in 49 seconds for 4-6. A bit later, again a double in a minute gave Vouliagmeni a three-goal lead which they kept till halftime.

And in the second half they never let Waspo come closer. Early in the third teams staged a Wild West-like showdown, five consecutive possessions ended in a goal in a span of 1:41 minutes and Vouliagmeni led 8-12. However, the Germans failed to respond in their next attack, and Nikolaidis netted an extra for 8-13 which put the writing on the wall. Hannover could pull two back lately but before they’d start hoping, the Greeks converted a penalty 18 seconds before the last break for 10-14.

After the action-packed quarters, the last one brought a single hit, 36 seconds into the fourth, by Waspo – but no more goals came in the remaining 7:24 minutes. This was more than fine for Vouliagmeni, and the victory propelled them to the fourth position, while Hannover’s hopes, fuelled by their 11-14 win two weeks ago, seem to be fading after this 11-14 defeat.

How they saw it

Karsten Seehafer, coach, Hannover

“It was not enough today, we had some problems in defence, receiving 14 goals in the Champions League means that you cannot win the game. Our attack worked somewhat, so this result, 11-14, is the reality. If you change many things, players in the team, you need patience. We have that. We have new players, young players but also old ones, so I’d say age is less important, what counts is winning games. And we just did not realise that today.”

Vlado Vujasinovic, coach, Vouliagmeni

“We are coming from a very hard period, and this was a very important game. Big congrats to my players, fought a lot this evening and they achieved that now we are serious candidates for Belgrade. In this battle every point is important. No we won an away game, this is very good, and we keep going and keep our dreams alive.”