Ferencvaros finish on top after thrilling win

Photo: ftc_waterpolo

Ferencvaros kept the top spot in Group B as they managed to fend off a resurgent Barceloneta. The Spaniards hit back from four goals down to push Fradi to their limit, but the hosts played a fine endgame and managed to hold onto their lead. The Hungarians were under pressure, though, as Olympiacos briefly reached the summit earlier after blowing away Brescia, whose defence was in ruins.

Champions League Quarter Final Stage
Results, Day 6
Group B (Tuesday, 14th May 2024) 
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 17-12 AN Brescia (ITA)
FTC-Telekom (HUN) 13-11 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)
Final rankings: 1. FTC 15, 2. Olympiacos 14, 3. Barceloneta 7, 4. Brescia 0

Fixtures for Wednesday
Group A (CET times shown)
19.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v VK Novi Beograd (SRB)
20.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v VK Jadran Split (CRO).
Standings: 1. Recco 14, 2. Novi Beograd 13, 3. Marseille 3, 4. Jadran 0

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

In Tuesday’s opening game, Olympiacos made no mistakes and bagged all three points with ease against bottom ranked Brescia.

The first few possessions were a telling indication of what was to come, as within five minutes, the hosts had stormed into a 6-2 lead, which caused Brescia coach Sandro Bovo to call a time-out – he’d seen enough.

His words had the desired effect, though, as his players responded by hitting three in a row and the scores stood at 6-5 at the end of the first.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

For a brief moment, it looked like the Italians might be able to keep up with the Greeks, but their defending was nowhere close to what they usually deliver in crucial matches.

It was a disappointing display from Brescia, who in Europe this season have never conceded more than 12-13 goals per game.

This time, Olympiacos stood with 11 goals already at half-time, as they led by three.

Towards the end of the third, the result was beyond doubt, as the hosts built up a five-goal advantage (15-10) and never looked back.

They stopped at 17, with Ioannis Fountoulis, Nikolaos Gkillas and Alexandros Papanastasiou all scoring hat-tricks.

For Brescia, USA star Max Irving hit four, but his fine attacking performance was a mere consolation as his side returned home with little to show from their 17-12 loss.

After cruising to the win, the wait was on for Olympiacos, to see if Ferencvaros, now under some pressure, could claim a win against Barceloneta to retake the top spot in Group B.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

When the game commenced in Budapest, it was clear the Spaniards were in no mood to offer any gifts to the Hungarian champions, as they took an early lead and only a Soma Vogel trademark penalty save prevented Barceloneta from making it 0-2 (he denied Felipe Perrone).

The stop pushed Fradi into the match and two fast goals in 44 seconds saw them take the lead.

Barceloneta quickly responded with a double of their own, then Vendel Vigvari’s pinpoint shot brought the hosts back to even at 3-3.

The Magyars began the second quarter in commanding style, with Denes Varga and Edoardo di Somma hitting fine goals in 33 seconds.

Photo: ftc_waterpolo

They missed a man-up to move three ahead, then Bernat Sanahuja put one away from their man-up for 5-4.

Still, the home side pushed hard and by half-time they were 8-4 up.

The goalkeeping displays were proving to be the difference, as while Vogel denied one shot after another, including a second penalty save, Unai Aguirre wasn’t having his best day.

In the middle of the third, his night got even worse as he was ejected from the pool – not through a substitution, but a red card.

He got his marching orders after hotly debating a close call – a goal for FTC – as he firmly believed he’d stopped Vigvari’s shot, but the ball had just crept over the line.

This reset the four-goal gap, but also angered the visitors, who found some composure and pulled two back to trail 9-7 before the last period.

Photo: ftc_waterpolo

A quick exchange of goals opened the final quarter, then Barceloneta wasted a man-up without a shot and Stylianos Argyropoulos brought some calm for FTC with a nice bouncer from the perimeter for 11-8.

Sanahuja managed to put the ball behind Vogel from a penalty and at 11-9 there was still 4:07 to play.

Next, FTC had a shotless 6 on 5 and Luke Pavillard’s ball found the back of the net for 11-10.

Though Nic Porter, now in Barceloneta’s goal, managed to save Dusan Mandic’s shot in a man-down, he couldn’t keep the Serbian’s next effort out.

The star leftie was having an inspired few minutes, as he then made a crucial steal in Barceloneta’s man-up 1:27 from time.

Sanahuja’s nice lob then fell in with 39 seconds to go for 12-11 to set up a potentially nervy ending.

Photo: ftc_waterpolo

Looking to counter, Barceloneta were left exposed in a 3 on 2 situation and Jansik’s shot made it behind the goal line for 13-11.

It was a lifesaver as the Spaniards were swimming two on one at the other end and FTC needed all three points to keep the top spot.

They achieved that – and now they will keenly watch the Recco v Novi Beograd super clash on Wednesday, which shall ultimately determine the pairing of the semis in the Final Four.

The Champions League Quarter Final Stage will conclude on Wednesday 15th May, and you can follow all the action and results live on the dedicated European Aquatics Champions League website.

And stream every game live, or watch the replays and interviews, by clicking here.

Ticket details for the Final Four in Malta (5th-7th June) can be found by clicking here.

Photo: ftc_waterpolo