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Champions League, Prelims, Day 6 – Summary

 Szolnok halts Recco’s 23-game unbeaten run

 

Italy’s Pro Recco won 23 straight Champions League matches since the beginning of the 2014/15 season – this run was halted at Szolnok where the Hungarian champion managed to beat the title-holders. In Group A the prelims’ only unbeaten team, Olympiacos (GRE) earned another important away win while Barceloneta (ESP) defeated Primorje (CRO) in a crucial encounter.


A bit unusually, Group A didn’t witness any draw in this round – 7 of the previous 15 matches ended in a tie –, Olympiacos (GRE) and Eger (HUN) both repeated their respective victories after last week triumphs. In fact, these away matches turned into more one-sided contests than the previous ones: a strong start from Olympiacos in Herceg Novi against Jadran (MNE) and from Eger in Berlin against Spandau (GER) left no doubt on the outcome. At the end both favourites won by 7 goals.

After a 9-9 tie in Rijeka, the clash of Barceloneta (ESP) and Primorje (CRO) promised another tight contest but the Spaniards’ 4-0 rush in the second period proved to be decisive. The Croats tried to climb back but could never come closer than two goals.

With four rounds to go Olympiacos tops this group as the only unbeaten team in the prelims, however, the race is wide open, only Jadran and Spandau seem to bow out already.

The big game in Group B didn’t disappoint the fans once again: after last week’s magnificent battle which saw the title-holders coming back from 0-5 down, Szolnok and Recco produced another classic. A brilliant match featuring all beauties of water polo – as well 13 medallists from the European Championships in January – offered great excitements. Recco took the lead three times in the first period but soon the hosts went 5-3 ahead and held on for a longer spell. However, Recco managed to level the score first at 8-8 (after 8-6), then at 10-10 (after 10-8), but, unlike a week ago, they couldn’t take the lead. Instead, Szolnok, led by Denes Varga and Milan Aleksic, netting 3 goals apiece, jumped to a 12-10 lead deep into the fourth and there was no way back for the Italians. They scored from a man-up with 78 seconds remaining but the best goalkeeper of the Belgrade Europeans, Viktor Nagy denied them in the last 6 on 5 in the dying seconds.

Recco still leads the group but now they are tied with Jug and Szolnok has also improved its chances and they also widened the gap ahead of Partizan (SRB) and OSC (HUN) which have a slight chance in the hunt for the F6 berths. However, Partizan needs a kind of miracle after Jug downed them once more, this time in Belgrade and OSC also has to come up with something big, though they played convincingly this time while beating Galatasaray in Istanbul.

Champions League, Preliminaries, Day 6

Group A

CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO) 9-7

Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v ZF-Eger (HUN) 8-15

Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) v. Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 6-13

Classification

1. Olympiacos 12, 2. Eger 11, 3. Barceloneta 11, 4. Primorje 8, 5. Spandau 3, 6. Jadran 2

Group B


Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v Pro Recco (ITA) 12-11

Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 6-10

Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) 9-12

Classification

1. Recco 15, 2. Jug 15, 3. Szolnok 12, 4. OSC 6, 5. Partizan 6, 6. Galatasaray 0

 

Next round: 12 March