Both Greek teams, Ethnikos and Vouliagmeni finished atop in their respective groups, while Hungary’s FTC and Italy’s Padova are the other two top-ranked sides in the prelims of the Euro Cup Women. In Group D, Spain’s Terrassa gained a dramatic four-goal win against De Zaan, the desired result ultimately sent them through at the expense of the Dutch.
Group A (Piraeus)
1. Ethnikos Piraeus (GRE) 9, 2. Tigra ZF Eger (HUN) 6, 3. Olympic Nice (FRA) 3, 4. Sirens ASC Malta (MLT) 0
(The top two ranked sides in each group advanced to the QF)
After the two favourites secured their respective berths in the quarter-finals on the first two days, host Ethnikos and Eger staged a showdown for the top spot. It was a brilliant and thrilling match where the Greeks led only once: at the end. During the game they came back from 2-5 to 5-5 and managed to keep up with the Hungarians all the way before netting two in 52 seconds deep into the fourth after 10-11 to claim a hard-fought 12-11 victory. Nice beat Sirens 16-4 to have some consolation at the end.
Group B (Mulhouse)
1. FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 9, 2. UVSE Budapest (HUN) 6, 3. Mulhouse WP (FRA) 3, 4. Grand Nancy (FRA) 0
The two Hungarian sides left no doubt that they were much better than the French teams – downed them on the first two days convincingly so they could settle the first place between themselves. They produced a fine re-match of the Hungarian Cup final, still, the outcome was the same as FTC won again, this time 10-8. UVSE managed to come back from 6-8 in the fourth period, but in the last four minutes they were unable to add any more goals while Ferencvaros netted two to grab the win. Mulhouse then dominated the French in-house battle, thrashing Grand Nancy 15-5.
Group C (Lille)
1. Vouliagmeni (GRE) 9, 2. Lille UC (FRA) 6, 3. ZVL 1886 (NED) 3, 4. Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 0
Only the top spot was in question on the last day and Vouliagmeni clinched it in a scoring festival they produced together with host Lille. The Greeks controlled the game, however, the defences played little part in the entertaining match which saw 34 goals in total. Vouliagmeni won 19-15 to finish atop. ZVL beat Spandau 15-12 to end their European campaign with a win at least.
Group D (Pacense)
1. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 6, 2. CN Terrassa (ESP) 6, 3. ZV De Zaan (NED) 6, 4. CA Pacense (POR) 0
Three-way tie (goal-differences): Padova +2, Terrassa 0, De Zaan –2
The greatest drama of the weekend came in this group where De Zaan upset Padova on the first day, then the Italians – bronze medallists in the Euro League Final Four in the last season – bounced back to beat Terrassa with a big 5-1 run in the final period. This secured their QF berth while the Spaniards needed a four-goal win against De Zaan on the last day. When the Dutch stormed to a 3-0 lead right in the opening quarter, the Spaniards’ position was anything but promising, however, they fought themselves back and led 5-6 at halftime. Then in the second half they managed to widen the gap step-by-step, they went 6-9 up before the last break and Paula Camus netted an action goal for 6-10 with 4:19 to go. The Dutch had two man-ups but were unable to put them away – indeed they could score a single goal in the entire second half and remained scoreless in the last 12:27 minutes. A three-goal defeat would still have sent them through – this 10-6 victory favoured Terrassa in the three-way tie.