Five clubs managed to make the quarter-finals before the final day of the second qualification round in the Champions League Women. Spanish sides Sabadell, Mataro, Mediterrani, Italy’s SIS Roma and Olympiacos of Greece all won two matches, while huge battles are in sight for the three remaining berths.
Group A (Padova)
So far, no advancing sides in Padova (ITA) as Dunaujvaros (HUN) held the hosts on a draw, just like Orizzonte (ITA) on the opening day. Dunaujvaros came back from 6-4 down and while killing four man-downs in the fourth period, they staged a 0-3 run to take the lead 36 seconds from time. Still, Padova could equalise, ironically, their new Hungarian signing Vanda Valyi netted a man-up with 0:05 remaining on the clock. Since Orizzonte blew away ZVL (NED) with a 21-4 thrashing, the decision came down on the last day when the two Italians face off – a 12-12 draw (or any higher scoring tie) would send both teams through at the expense of the Hungarians.
Group B (Eger)
The two Spanish teams didn’t leave any chance for their respective Hungarian rivals. Mataro (ESP) downed Ferencvaros (HUN) with ease, a 6-2 opening period set the tone and they claimed another 8-goal win (16-8) after the first day. Last season runner-up Sabadell (ESP) did the same: won by five against Ferencvaros on Friday and beat Eger (HUN) by five now (14-9). Here the hosts had the better start, took a 2-3 lead, then Sabadell staged a perfect storm, an 8-1 run decided the outcome in the middle two periods and secured both Spanish teams’ place in the quarter-finals.
Group C (Budapest)
The third Spanish team also reached the quarters – Mediterrani did a great job in the second half against host UVSE (HUN). The Magyars were in control in the first half and took a 4-3 lead, then missed crucial extras, both at 4-4 and then 5-5, conceded one 7 seconds before the last break and their level dropped further in the final period. Three more Spanish goals came, UVSE could net one only in the dying seconds (6-9) – this 10:16 minute-long silence cost them the game.
Now they are to play a do-or-die match with Glyfada (GRE) on Sunday as their next rival prevailed in the ‘all-Greek’ clash. It was another extraordinary game, Glyafada led 2-7 in the second period, but Ethnikos came back to 7-7 with a magnificent rush early in the third. However, Glyfada found their way back to the winning track and added three more goals after 8-9 and won 9-12.
Group D (Rome)
Olympiacos won another hard-fought battle, this time against fellow Greek side Vouliagmeni and that secured their QF berth. The title-holders seemed to have it by halftime with a great 0-4 run, however, Vouliagmeni fought themselves back and trailed 9-10 early in the fourth. Five minutes of extreme battling ensued before Olympiacos drew first blood and that was decisive, especially because another goal came 82 seconds later, and they finally won 10-12.
Host SIS Roma (ITA) had much less problems with De Zaan (NED) than Olympiacos – the Greeks had struggled to beat the Dutch 16-15 in the first round, while the Italians stormed to a 13-6 victory. A great first half, ending in a 7-2 partial score, did enough damage to ensure a smooth finish and a spot in the best eight for the Italians.