Close to miracles but no happy end for Zvezda and Ortigia

The eight-finals brought extraordinary duels in the men’s Euro Cup – only Trieste could win both legs, the other seven match-ups saw huge battles. At the end, teams representing six nations reached the quarter-finals, only Italy and Hungary have two sides apiece among the best eight.

Eight-finals, return leg

Trieste Pallanuoto (ITA) v CN Noisy-Le-Sec (FRA) 16-13 – aggregate: 36-25

Panionios GSS (GRE) v Partizan Beograd (SRB) 12-8 – agg: 23-20

CSM Oradea (ROU) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU) 10-6 – agg: 18-14

BVK Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v A Hid Vasas Plaket (HUN) 11-7 – agg: 21-22

Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) v Budapesti Honved (HUN) 8-5 – agg: 19-18

CC Ortigia (ITA) v RN Savona (ITA) 13-9 – agg: 15-16

EN Tourcoing (FRA) v Primorac Kotor (MNE) 15-11 – agg: 22-18

CN Barcelona (ESP) v VK Sabac (SRB) 12-11 – agg: 22-24

Three duels were decided by a single goal in aggregate – and two of those had seemed to be over after the first leg as the respective winners built a five-goal advantage. However, both Ortigia, against fellow Italian Savona, and Crvena Zvezda, against Vasas, managed to erase the huge deficit deep into the fourth period of their respective encounters. Still, the fairy tale ending never came – in Sicily it was the cruellest finish possible as Valerio Rizzo saved Savona from the penalty shootout with a goal in the last second. Vasas, after winning 15-10 in Budapest, was 11-6 down in Belgrade but managed to score one more with 1:29 to go and deny the Zvezda’s last man-up to make it to the best eight.

The third tight one was staged in the in-house battle of the Hungarians. Here Szolnok, down by two after the first leg, led 8-4 late in the third, and despite not scoring in the last 11:36 minutes, they still advanced as Honved could pull back only one in the last period.

After the close first legs, Panionios thrashed Partizan by four goals – the Greeks didn’t leave much chance to the Serbs once they went 8-4 up in the middle of the third. Oradea dismantled local rival Steaua step by step, won each period with a goal, more than sufficient after the draw two weeks ago.

Primorac and Tourcoing had also played a draw in Kotor, then today the French did a clean job. They built a massive six-goal lead after three periods and knocked out the last Montenegrin side from the competition.

With Partizan and Zvezda gone, Sabac had the task to save some pride for the Serbs and they withstood the pressure in Barcelona. They led by 2-3 goals for most of the time and since they arrived with a three-goal advantage, they could afford to concede three goals at the end and lose by one goal, still made the quarters.

The only game without real excitements was held in Trieste as the Italians had claimed a massive 8-goal win in the first leg against Noisy – at the end they were the only ones advancing with a double win.

The draw for the QFs will be held on Thursday in the LEN Office in Nyon.