All but one match produced big wins for the favourites across the four venues on the opening day of the prelims in the newly launched Euro Cup Women. The only exception was the game of Padova and De Zaan where the Italians, bronze medallists in the Euro League last season, suffered a surprising defeat from the Dutch.
Group A (Piraeus)
Host Ethnikos – which may be considered title-holders as the Greeks won the last edition of the former second-tier cup LEN Trophy – enjoyed an easy cruise against the group’s (and arguably the field’s) weakest side Sirens of Malta. The home side stopped at 26 goals, Ioulia Kontoni and Effrosyni Katsimpri netted 6 apiece.
The other favourite, Hungary’s Eger downed France’s Nice also with ease. The Magyars didn’t waste any time to show they were the better side, a 6-2 first period, followed by a 5-2 run was more than enough to secure the victory by halftime. The second half was a bit more balanced as Eger switched back gears – indeed, this 18-9 win is a guarantee for them to go through as beating their Maltese rivals on Saturday looks like the safest bet on Earth.
Group B (Mulhouse)
The first game of the ‘France versus Hungary group’ didn’t see any surprise in the first game where Ferencvaros beat Grand Nancy with a kind of effortless performance. The first half was somewhat promising for the French, but the Magyars destroyed their defence after the middle break – while it stood 5-8 after two quarters, it ended in a rout (9-25), with a 4-17 run by FTC in the following two periods, including a season-high 11-goal package in the last eight minutes.
And the second encounter went the same way too. Host Mulhouse was no match for UVSE, EL Final4 participant last April, the Magyars sailed away with a 17-6 victory to make it 3/3 in HUN/FRA relations (in Piraeus, Eger also beat a French side).
Group C (Lille)
Favourite Vouliagmeni were absolutely dominant against ZVL of the Netherlands – the Greeks rushed to a 10-2 lead by halftime and never looked back (18-6). Most probably their remaining two matches will offer similarly one-sided contests.
Host Lille claimed an important win over Germany’s Spandau in the first match. The French took a commanding 5-1 lead after eight minutes and though the second period was much balanced (5-4), Lille’s victory was never in danger.
Group D (Pacense)
The clash of last season’s Euro League bronze medallist Padova and the Netherlands’ top side De Zaan was the game of the day. It was a brilliant and thrilling encounter – kicked off by an action-packed first period where the Italians took a 4-3 lead. However, De Zaan came back to 5-5 till halftime and took the lead from their first possession in the third. Padova hit back with a double in 45 seconds for 7-6 and held on for 8-7 in the middle of this quarter. Few would have thought that this would be the Italians’ last hit in the evening – but it happened: they were unable to score in the last 12 minutes, while the Dutch equalised before the last break and added two more in the fourth to earn a surprise 8-10 win.
Spain’s Terrassa set the scoring record for the day while thrashing host Pacense 3-29 – and meet Padova on Saturday to play a do-or-die match against the Italians.