Spanish and Italian teams clinch top spots in CLW

Sofia Giustini (SIS Roma)

Three Spanish, two Greek and Italian teams apiece and a Hungarian side made the Champions League Women’s quarter-finals. Mataro and Mediterrani are the only teams finishing the weekend with a perfect 3/3 record.

Group A (Padova)

1. Ekipe Orizzonte (ITA) 7, 2. Dunaujvarosi Foiskola (HUN) 5, 3. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 4, 5. ZVL 1886 (NED) 0

Dunaujvaros, which had played draws with both Italian sides, delivered the compulsory win over ZVL, indeed thrashed the Dutch 20-3. Still, the Magyars could have been out if host Padova and 8-time winner Orizzonte had played a high scoring draw (12-12 or higher). However, there were no intensions for a ‘hand-in-hand’ advancing – it was a fierce battle where Orizzonte blew its home arch-rival away in the second half. After 4-4, a 0-4 run (while shutting out Padova for 12 minutes) decided the outcome, the Sicilians went through and Dunaujvaros, also unbeaten, clinched the second spot.

Group B (Eger)

1. Assolim CM Mataro (ESP) 9, 2. Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 6, 3. Tigra ZF Eger (HUN) 3, 4. FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 0

The Spanish duo already settled the bill over the first two days, last season’s runner-up Sabadell and emerging Mataro beat their Hungarian rivals, Eger and Ferencvaros with ease on Friday and Saturday respectively. Still, the national derbies on the closing day produced brilliant battles. In the clash for the top spot saw an early 3-0 surge from Sabadell, but Mataro came back soon and thanks to some brilliant individual efforts from their foreigners, Dutch Simone van der Kraatz (5 goals) and Hungarian Rita Keszthelyi (4), they won 12-11 at the end. Though the game of Eger and Ferencvaros didn’t have much at stake, it was a prestige fight and the hosts prevailed 13-12, Eger’s Dorottya Szilagyi netted a round-high 8 goals in this match.

Group C (Budapest)

1. CE Mediterrani (ESP) 9, 2. Glyfada (GRE) 6, 3. UVSE Hunguest Hotels (HUN) 3, 4. Ethnikos Piraeus (GRE) 0

LEN Trophy winner Ethnikos tried its best against Mediterrani on the last day, but after jumping to a 1-3 lead, the Spanish hit back with a 5-0 run in the second period and took care of business in the remaining of the game. The 13-10 win secured the top spot for them and left UVSE and Glyfada to battle for the second place. The Greeks stunned the hosts with a 0-4 opening and that pushed the game on a track Glyfada wished to follow. The Magyars were forced into a chasing game where they had a better spell early in the third when they came back to 4-5 but another 0-4 rush in 2:40 minutes secured Glyfada’s berth in the top eight. UVSE now miss the quarters for the first time since 2016.

Group D (Rome)

1. SIS Roma (ITA) 7 (+13), 2. Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 7 (+3), 3. NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 3, 4. ZV De Zaan (NED) 0

On the last day only the first place was at stake and the game of Roma and title-holder Olympiacos didn’t disappoint the fans. The host Italians had a better start, led 6-4 at halftime, then the Greeks came back and held a two-goal lead till the finish, but two 6 on 5 goals, the second in the last second, brought Roma back to even (12-12) and that secured them the top spot due to their better goal difference. The other Greek side Vouliagmeni claimed the third place as they downed De Zaan 7-4, which means a better seeding in the Euro Cup draw. LEN shall announce the date of the draw soon – the advancing teams shall play the quarter-finals on a home-and-away basis, while the sides having finished 3rd and 4th respectively will continue in the Euro Cup, where the teams failing to make the cut in the first round join them for the qualification round (to be played in four groups of fours).