Title-holder Sabadell almost blew a four-goal lead in Dunaujvaros but survived the last woman-down to bag all three points and maintain its perfect record. Last season’s runner-up Mataro claimed another big victory, while Sant Andreu won a shootout in Rome after a late equaliser. Olympiacos is the only non-Spanish side in a perfect position to qualify for the Final Four with the Greeks also having three wins in as many matches.
Group A: CN Terrassa (ESP) v Ekipe Orizzonte (ITA) 10-8, SIS Roma (ITA) v CN Sant Andreu (ESP) 10-10, pen: 4-5.
Standings: 1. Sant Andreu 8, 2. Terrassa 6, 3. Orizzonte 3, 4. Roma 1
Sant Andreu survived its second visit to Italy. After edging out Orizzonte, they managed to beat Roma in a shootout, but only after equalising nine seconds from time. It was a fantastic match of twists and turns with the lead constantly changing. The last 92 seconds saw two goals apiece before the penalties brought even more drama with a second save from Martina Terre in the seventh round landing two crucial points for the Spaniards.
The other Spanish v Italian duel also went to the former, thanks to a strong third period from Terrassa. Eight-time winner Orizzonte was ahead at halftime before the hosts enjoyed a 3-0 run. Despite their rivals coming back to even early in the fourth, back-to-back goals after 7-7 put Terrassa ahead once more as they claimed another fine home victory.
Group B: Dunaujvaros VC (HUN) v Astralpool CN Sabadell (ESP) 8-9, Alimos NAC Betsson (GRE) v Mulhouse WP (FRA) 12-15.
Standings: 1. Sabadell 9, 2. Mulhouse 5, 3. Alimos 3, 4. Dunaujvaros 1
Dunaujvaros almost stunned title-holder Sabadell.
The bottom-ranked Hungarians, a much younger side than the one which reached the Final Four last season, fought really hard, although the Spanish appeared to have made a decisive break when they went on a 0-4 run to lead 4-8 deep into the third quarter.
With 26 seconds to go, the hosts netted a 6 on 4 for 6-9, with Sabadell missing their chances and failing to score at all in the final 9:03 minutes. The Magyars took advantage with Dorina Dobi’s action shot cutting deficit to a single goal with 1:15 to go. With 17 seconds on the clock, the hosts earned a 6 on 5 but were unable to score the equaliser.
Mulhouse stunned Alimos in the first period with a 0-6 blast. However, the Greeks managed to regroup and started their long journey back into the game, scoring three in a row after 6-10. The French found the perfect response, though, with two action goals in 52 seconds only for the hosts to respond with a double for 11-12. The visitors didn’t buckle but scored again and added two more in 35 seconds for victory.
Group C: FTC-Telekom (HUN) v Tigra-ZF-Eger (HUN)18-7,Ethnikos Piraeus (GRE) v CN Assolim Mataro (ESP) 4-13.
Standings: 1. Mataro 9, 2. Ethnikos 4, 3. FTC 3, 4. Eger 2
Last season’s runner-up Mataro did a splendid job once more with a 1-6 hammering in the first eight minutes of second-ranked Ethnikos. Shortly before the middle break the Spaniards were 1-10 up so they could slightly relax in the second half and ultimately claimed another huge win. So far, their closest game was the eight-goal home win against Ferencvaros, and with a five-point advantage at the halfway mark, it’s hard to see them not cruising to the finals.
The in-house derby of the Hungarians lacked excitement. While Eger upset Ferencvaros a couple of times this season in local competitions, they were demolished in Budapest once more by Ferencvaros. The first blow came after 1-2, when the hosts netted five connecting goals, but the real rout happened in the third period which went to FTC 6-0. All in all they had a 10-0 rush from 6-3 to 16-3 to land their first win in the group stage.
Group D: Vouliagmeni NC (GRE) v UVSE-Budapest (HUN) 13-11, CE Mediterrani (ESP) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10-15.
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 9, 2. Vouliagmeni 6, 3. UVSE 3, 4. Mediterrani 0
Olympiacos pulled off a third win although only after overcoming some headaches in Barcelona. Mediterrani had a great start and led 5-2 in the second period before the Greeks started taking control and Eleni Xenaki’s distant shot which just beat the buzzer brought them back to 6-5 by halftime. Daniela Moreno scored two action goals in 33 seconds to give the hosts an 8-6 lead once more, but Olympiacos hit back. They scored two fine goals from the centre and another from action and with the game tied at 9-9, they added two more in 41 seconds to finish the action-packed quarter with a 9-11 lead. Two quick action goals doubled their advantage, and once they were 9-13 up, they never looked back.
Vouliagmeni also had to come back from 2-5 down at home against UVSE. The Hungarians held on for 4-7 late in the second and were still 6-8 up early in the third before the Greeks hit three action goals in a row. It was all even before the last quarter, and it stood 10-10 after an early exchange of woman-up goals before the Greeks netted two more 6 on 5s in 58 seconds for 12-10 and that was decisive. UVSE pulled one back with 1:09 to go before Brigitte Sleeking’s action goal 52 seconds from time ended the contest.