Water Polo Champions League Women: Another fine day for the Spanish teams

Credit to: Maria Angela Cinardo

Three groups have a Spanish leader after two rounds: St Andreu, Sabadell, and Mataro all bagged a second win. Olympiacos also landed another victory in the Champions League Women.

Group A

Ekipe Orizzonte (ITA) v SIS Roma (ITA) 16-11, CN Sant Andreu (ESP) v CN Terrassa (ESP) 15-9

It was a day of national derbies in this group, and the hosts proved to be superior both in Italy and Spain. The eight-time champion Orizzonte won a weird match against Roma. The first period saw ten goals, with both teams scoring five each. The middle two periods produced a total of six goals, and then, in the last eight minutes, there were 11 more goals.

Throughout the hard-fought and low-scoring quarters, the Sicilians gained a two-goal lead, extended it to 10-7, and later to 12-9 before their rivals climbed back to 12-11. However, Orizzonte finished them off with a 4-0 run at the end.

Sant Andreu did it differently. They thrashed Terrassa in the first half, storming to a 7-1 lead, and never looked back. It stood 9-3 at halftime, followed by a more balanced second half, but the hosts performed exceptionally well and now top the group with two wins.

Group B

Astralpool CN Sabadell (ESP) v Alimos NAC Betsson (GRE) 14-7, Mulhouse WP (FRA) v Dunaujvaros (HUN) 15-15, pen: 3-1

Sabadell bagged another easy win at home. Alimos had a better spell in the second period when they managed to climb back to 6-5 after being 4-1 down. However, with some brilliant defending, the titleholders pulled away with an 8-2 hammering in the second half. Indeed, they held Alimos to just one goal in all but one period in this game..

Mulhouse came close to causing an even bigger upset against last season’s Final Four participant, Dunaujvaros. The French-led team was up 10-5 deep into the second period and held a three-goal lead late in the third. However, the Hungarians, led by their captain Krisztina Garda, who netted 8 goals in the regular time, kept coming back. With Mulhouse still ahead 15-13 inside the last two minutes, Geraldine Mahieu scored two goals in 49 seconds, and the French missed their man-up opportunity with 12 seconds to go. Still, they kept two points at home as the Magyars missed three penalties in the shootout.

Group C

Assolim CN Mataro (ESP) v FTC-Telekom 13-5, Tigra ZF-Eger (HUN) v Ethnikos Piraeus (GRE) 11-11, pen: 5-4

Mataro’s star player, Rita Keszthelyi, showed no mercy for her Hungarian compatriots. After netting five goals in Eger on Day 1, she continued her stellar performance by scoring six goals as the Spanish side triumphed over FTC. Mataro, the runner-up from last season, was superior against the Euro Cup runner-up right from the beginning. After 3-2, the Spaniards staged a 6-0 rout, shutting out their rivals for 14:20 minutes, more than enough to claim a big win.

The other Hungarian team, Eger played a thrilling match against Ethnikos. The Greeks led in the first half, then Eger went ahead three times in the third. However, their rivals equalised again and again. What’s more, they jumped to 9-11 in the fourth period, but the hosts salvaged the game and forced a shootout with a late equalizer by Eve Weston, just 49 seconds from time. There, a saved penalty in the second round secured two points for the Hungarian champion.

Group D

Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Vouliagmeni NC (GRE) 12-7, UVSE Budapest (HUN) v CE Mediterrani (ESP) 10-7

The in-house clash of the Greeks produced the expected outcome. Olympiacos surged ahead with three goals after an early 2-2 tie, steering the game toward the desired path and leading 7-3 at halftime. Vouliagmeni managed to pull one back twice, but once Olympiacos scored two more goals in just 46 seconds, reaching a 10-5 lead, the match was effectively decided. The gap remained until the end, securing another comfortable home win for the favored side.

UVSE produced the comeback of the week against Mediterrani on Margaret Island on Sunday. The Spaniards scored three consecutive goals after a 3-3 tie and led 4-7 late in the third quarter. Despite pulling one back before the last break, the Hungarians didn’t seem to have a strong chance of winning the match. Then, on their first possession, they scored a 6-on-5 goal, leveling the score at 7-7 with 5:08 to go.

Mediterrani missed a woman-up opportunity, and the hosts squandered a 6-on-4 advantage. With 1:55 left, Panni Szegedi converted a penalty, seemingly breaking the Spaniards’ resolve. UVSE added two more goals in a span of 35 seconds, completing a 5-0 run. Mediterrani couldn’t score in the last 9 minutes and 56 seconds of the game. Although Hungary had four teams in the group stage, they had to wait until Sunday to secure their first three-pointer victory.