Top six finalised
CN Barceloneta (ESP) has joined Olympiacos (GRE), Eger (HUN), Recco (ITA), Szolnok (HUN) and Jug (CRO) as the last team booking its place in this year’s Final Six tournament. Olympiacos clinched the top spot in Group A and an automatic berth in the semi-finals.
Many of the open questions were answered in the penultimate round of the prelims. The most crucial one was about the outcome of the duel between Barceloneta and Primorje (CRO), for the last available berth in the F6 – and the decision wasn’t postponed to the last day.
Barceloneta won a rather tough battle in Herceg Novi where Jadran (MNE), despite losing its chance to go through, battled hard to earn its first win in the group. The Spaniards took control late in the second period, and shut out the Montenegrins for 13:26 minutes while going 3-6 up from 3-2. Still, the hosts staged a late surge, came back to 5-6 with 90 seconds to go but could not score on their last possession.
This meant that winning for Primorje was a must in Eger, though that challenge are listed among the toughest ones. The Hungarians also went for a win in order to stay in the hunt for the top spot in Group A and after a devastating start – three action goals within 96 seconds – the hosts seemed to keep everything under control. Soon they led 7-3 and few would have guessed that after nine minutes of miracles Eger would remain scoreless for 9:36 minutes. Primorje smelled blood, started to climb back, in the third they caught up the Magyars, even took the lead at 8-9. A fine goal from the hosts with 3 seconds from time in the third brought back the sides to even and in the fourth Eger jumped ahead again. However, the Croats managed to equalise three times, Eger missed a man-up with 35 second to go, Primorje couldn’t do anything in the last 11 seconds so they had to settle for a 12-12 draw. This, the usual tie in Group A, caused happiness for other clubs: thanks to that, Barceloneta went through, Primorje bowed out (the results achieved against each other favours the Spaniards: 9-7, 9-9), and Olympiacos clinched the top spot ahead of Eger.
Earlier in the day the Greeks enjoyed an easy cruise against Spandau at home, they didn’t concede any goal in the entire second half and now can prepare for the semi-final.
In Group B only the final ranks were at stake and the three advancing sides didn’t commit any mistake while playing against the relegated ones. Jug (CRO) set a new scoring record against Galatasaray (TUR) by netting 17 goals but soon Recco (ITA) bettered it, the title-holders found their good old form in Belgrade, routing Partizan 7-18.
Szolnok won the all-Hungarian contest with ease over OSC, they hit three in each period and held on their second place in the group. Mathematics still offers them a chance to go first but even they know that Recco will secure its top position in its last game in Istanbul.
Champions League, Preliminaries, Day 9
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 12-3
Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) v CN Barceloneta (ESP) 5-6
ZF Eger (HUN) v Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO) 12-12
1. Olympiacos 21, 2. Eger 16, 3. Barceloneta 15, 4. Primorje 12, 5. Jadran 4, 6. Spandau 3
Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) 17-8
Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v Pro Recco (ITA) 7-18
A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) 6-12
1. Recco 22, 2. Szolnok 21, 3. Jug 19, 4. OSC 9, 5. Partizan 7, 6. Galatasaray 1
Last round is to be played on 18 May.