Vouliagmeni ‘penalises’ Mladost Vouliagmeni managed to oust favourite Mladost in a penalty shootout to cause the upset of the day. Dynamo Moscow was close to make a miracle in Belgrade, but the players of Crvena Zvezda woke up in time to come back after 0-5 and with a draw they reached the semis. The two Hungarian sides, OSC and Szolnok advanced with ease.
Quarter-finals, 2nd leg
Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v OSC Budapest (HUN) 12-10, aggregate: 23-27
NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Mladost Zagreb (CRO) 11-10, pen: 9-8, agg: 30-29
Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 10-10, agg: 24-22
Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS) 9-9, agg: 20-17
Semi-finals (3 and 10 April): Crvena Zvezda v Szolnok, OSC v Vouliagmeni
Mladost was one game away from qualifying to the Champions League in November – now they are out from the Euro Cup too. The Croats fell to Vouliagmeni, the Greek side, which had edged out Serbia’s Novi Beograd in the previous round by a single goal in aggregate and now it advanced by winning another thriller.
Mladost had only a single goal advantage from the first leg but in Athens it held on for 7-7 till the end of the third. Then the hosts scored three in a row and with 3:10 to go Mladost was still 11-8 down. But they could shut out their rivals in the remaining time and 16 seconds from time Franko Lazic netted a 6 on 5 for 11-10 to set exactly the same score-line as a week ago. The penalty shootout was nerve-wrecking, it lasted 9 rounds, the first 16 shots were all converted. Then came Josip Vrlic who had buried the decisive penalty for Croatia at the Olympic Qualification Tournament – now his shot was saved by Panagiotis Tzortzatos and Andrija Basic, a Croatian, sent Vouliagmeni to the semi-finals.
Tensions also ran high in Belgrade where a bit unexpectedly Dynamo Moscow stormed to a 0-4 lead in eight minutes so the Russians were plus one in aggregate after a three-goal defeat at home. Soon it was 0-5 and they had a man-up to go six up but missed it and the Serbs could finally get on the scoreboard after 15:04 minutes. Once they opened their account, they added one more before half-time then came back after the break so score three from back-to-back possession in a span of 81 seconds to equalise for 5-5. Dynamo could break its silence after 9:17 minutes but their real chance was gone in the meantime. They could get close at 6-8 and 7-9 with 4:30 to go but were unable to find the net again and Zvezda could even save the match to a tie to reach the top four.
Fellow Serbian side Radnicki fought bravely in Szolnok despite having lost by two at home last Wednesday. They jumped to a 0-2 lead and were always in front in the first half but Szolnok was also up to the task so it stood 7-7 after two periods. The Hungarians raised their level in the third, especially in defence and after conceding seven in the first half they kept Radnicki on three in the second. That was all they needed as they could score also three but after 9-7 the visitors never had the chance again to spoil Szolnok’s party.
Thanks to its 6-goal victory at home, OSC didn’t have too much headaches in Sabadell, what’s more, scoring 5 in the opening period seemed to have paved their way to the semis. The Spaniards didn’t let it go, though, and with some spirited performance they rushed from 4-7 down to an 8-7 lead and with 3:17 to go they were 12-9 up. However, they could not add any more but at least bowed out with a fine win.