Title-holder Olympiacos’ had to dig deep to beat ZVL 16-15 in a brilliant match, which was the highlight on the opening day in the second qualification round in Champions League Women. Spanish teams enjoyed a fine day, all three kicked off their respective campaigns with a victory.
Group A (Padova)
A brilliant battle kicked off the day as Dunaujvaros (HUN) held off 8-time winner Orizzonte (ITA) for an 11-11 draw. The Hungarians stormed to a 3-0 lead, but the Italians came back before halftime to 7-6. Interestingly, they could never lead in the game, just chased their rivals, but managed to equalise five times after 6-6 – the last time from a penalty, with 56 seconds on the clock.
Last season’s bronze medallist Padova (ITA) didn’t leave any chance for ZVL (NED) – a 7-1 run decided the game by halftime, the Italians won by eight (14-6) at the end.
Group B (Eger)
2022 runner-up Sabadell (ESP) signed in with a 1-5 rush in the first period against Ferencvaros (HUN) and never let their rivals feel for a single moment that they could stand a chance here. The Magyars could come back to 5-8 in the middle of the fourth, but the Spaniards hit back with two and claimed an easy 5-10 win.
And the Spanish v Hungarian battle stood 2-0 after the first day as Mataro (ESP) also enjoyed a fine ride against host Eger (HUN). Mataro’s newly signed Hungarian player Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy offered her best and scored four early in the game. She stopped at 6 while her team sailed away with a fine 5-13 victory.
Group C (Budapest)
Mediterrani (ESP) and Glyfada (GRE) produced a real thriller in the first game as neither side could take a two-goal lead at any point in the game. The lead was changing constantly – in the third the Spaniards netted two to go 6-5 up before the last period and they went ahead two more times, however, after 8-8 the Greeks managed to score first with 1:52 to go. However, Mediterrani had the last laugh, Sarah Lizotte netted two man-up goals in the last 38 seconds, the second one with 0:01 on the clock to win this crucial game (10-9).
The second clash wasn’t any less exciting. For a while it looked like a lop-sided contest, UVSE (HUN) led 4-0 before Ethnikos (GRE) could score their first after 14:37 minutes. In the third it looked the same for a while, then, after 7-3, the Greeks staged a fantastic 0-4 run while the hosts’ defence collapsed, so the last period started from 7-7.
Still, the Magyars regrouped themselves for the last period and after a quick exchange of goals early in the fourth, they tightened their defence once more, shut out the LEN Trophy title-holders for the last 6:42 minutes of the game while netted two in front to grab all three points (10-8).
Group D (Ostia)
The session began with a 31-goal epic as Olympiacos (GRE) could finally down De Zaan (NED). The title-holders had to dig deep before they could overcome the Dutch side. From time to time, the Greeks seemed to take control but were unable to build on their momentums. Deep into the second they gained a 7-5 lead, but the Dutch hit back with three goals and led 7-8 at halftime. The Greeks scored three in a row early in the third, but could never expand the gap to three later on, what’s more, Lieke Rogge’s last grasp goal brought back the Dutch to 13-12 before the last break. And the other Rogge, Bente equalised soon in the fourth, and they could do it again and again until 15-15. Then Nikoleta Eleftheriadou scored an action goal, her 6th in the evening, with 37 seconds to go, and that was left without answer (16-15).
The following game was balanced for a while too, the other Greek side Vouliagmeni led 2-4 late in the second period before Roma could net two to make it even by halftime. The Italians carried on in the third and with a 3-0 rush they jumped to a 9-5 lead and never looked back, won 12-7 at the end.