Water Polo Champions League Men: Jadran Split advances, while FTC and Barceloneta secure top spot

Credit: CNAB/LEN Media

Jadran Split is the next team to book its spot in the quarter-final round after winning an epic 30-goal thriller against Jadran Herceg Novi in Group C. Ferencvaros secured the top spot with a new scoring record in this group stage as they hit 20 goals past Crvena Zvezda. Elsewhere, Barceloneta clinched first place in Group D, while Marseille beat Spandau in a crucial match, but the winning margin was less than the French had wished for, which leaves the door open for the Germans in the final round.

Group C: FTC-Telekom (HUN) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 20-6, Jadran Split (CRO) v Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) 16-14.
Standings: 1. FTC 15, 2. Split 9, 3. Zvezda 4, 4. Herceg Novi 2

Group D: Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Vouliagmeni (GRE) 16-10, CN Marseille (FRA) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 13-11.
Standings: 1. Barceloneta 15, 2. Marseille 9, 3. Spandau 6, 4. Vouliagmeni 0

In Group C, Ferencvaros didn’t leave much chance for their visitors, Crvena Zvezda, in Budapest as they turned the match into a one-sided contest.

The Serbs did some efficient play until they were trailing 6-4, then, in the middle of the second, they missed a penalty (Daniel Szakonyi saving it with his head) and soon the Hungarians were sailing away and out of sight. Indeed, they staged a remarkable 9-0 rout and were 15-4 ahead early in the fourth.

The number of shots on target told it all, 19-7 it stood before the last quarter. The hosts stopped at 20 goals, a new single-game scoring record in regular time during this group stage, and was a stylish way to secure the top spot.

Jadran Split soon ensured they would be joining FTC in the quarter-final. The Croats didn’t miss their second chance to make the cut as they bounced back from their shocking 12-11 loss to Zvezda in Belgrade.

Though the other Jadran, Herceg Novi, got off to a better start and led 1-3, the hosts netted four unanswered goals to turn the tide.

The Montenegrins fought back to 5-5 before the turnaround, and they even went ahead once more at 5-6 early in the third, but the home side responded sharply with three quick goals inside 103 seconds to edge 8-6 in front.

An action-packed third quarter saw 12 goals in total, with seven fired in by the home side, but their rivals never gave up, not even when they fell three goals behind.

A late penalty brought the visitors back to 12-10 and they kicked off the fourth period with two brilliant action goals for 12-12.

Then, the ‘second generation’ stepped up to save the Croats, Luka Bukic and Loren Fatovic scored brilliant goals (the respective fathers of both were also outstanding players) to make it 15-13.

Ivan Nagaev kept up with them, the Russian leftie hit his sixth from a man-up for 15-14 with 2:46 to go.

However, the Montenegrin defence didn’t click, another action goal from the left wing, this time by Marino Cagalj, reset the two-goal gap and that was enough to bag three points and a spot among the best eight.

In Group D, Barceloneta dominated their home clash with Vouliagmeni, and after three straight goals early in the second gave them a 6-2 lead, the Spaniards never looked back.

Though the Greeks could climb back to 9-7 in the third, three goals from the hosts pushed the match back to its ‘original’ path as the visitors were unable to add another one for nearly seven minutes.

The Spaniards hit 16 by the end, but their coach Elvis Fatovic still wasn’t happy as the Greeks also reached double digits, though Barceloneta’s victory and their first place was never in danger.

Elsewhere in Group D, the opening period of the big match of the day promised a scoring festival, with 10 goals in eight minutes, as Marseille charged to a 6-4 lead at home against Spandau.

But then, the next hit came after five long minutes in the second, by Spandau’s Tyler Abramson, and he scored another one 23 seconds from time to make it 6-6.

With some luck, Thomas Vernoux ended Marseille’s struggles, by flicking in a rebound with 1.9sec on the clock to put the French 7-6 ahead at half-time.

The last-gasp goal killed Spandau’s momentum, with the home side scoring two more from their next two possessions and they managed to keep a three-goal gap till the end of the third (10-7).

Since Marseille lost by three in Berlin, they were hunting a four-goal winning margin here – but Spandau refused to lie down and hit two in 50 seconds to cut the difference to 10-9 early in the fourth.

The French side scored two more, however the Germans kept hitting back to never let the hosts regain a three-goal advantage, let alone the desired four.

With 48 seconds to go, Vernoux scored a magnificent one from the centre for 13-11, but Marseille couldn’t regain the ball, so they won yet it wasn’t enough to secure a quarter-final berth.

Now they will need at least a point at home against Barceloneta to progress, if Spandau beats Vouliagmeni in Athens in the final round of games.

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