Only Radnicki Kragujevac could win at home in the first leg (by a single goal) – five visiting sides earned fine wins, the two Hungarians already decided their respective duels, and two contests ended in a tie.
Eight-finals, 1st leg: Astralpool-Sabadell (ESP) v CE Mediterrani (ESP) 9-9, CN Barcelona (ESP) v HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) 9-11, Sintez Kazan (RUS) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS) 12-14, Pays d’Aix Natation (FRA) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) 6-22, Primorac Kotor (MNE) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) 8-18, VK Novi Beograd (SRB) v NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 7-7, VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) Team Strasbourg SNS (FRA) 11-10, EN Tourcoing (FRA) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 9-12
Second leg: 6 March
Radnicki saved the home teams’ pride though only by fingernail – the Serbs seemed to have the game against Strasbourg in hand and led 10-7 in the fourth but the French netted three in a row for 10-10. Leftie Aleksa Ukropina managed to convert a man-up 27 seconds from time to win the match for Radnicki.
Two home sides could at least hold for a tie at the end – though Novi Beograd had to dig deep against Vouliagmeni to force a draw after scoring the last three goals for 7-7. In the Spanish derby, Sabadell came back from 3-6 down and took the lead twice after 7-7 but Mediterrani managed to equalise and looks a bit better positioned for the return leg.
The two Hungarians are not just better positioned but can already be considered quarter-finalists as they blasted their respective rivals. Szolnok produced a 2-9 run in the middle two periods in Kotor to down Primorac by ten goals at the end. The visitors’ Serbian legion of Filip Filipovic, Radomir Drasovic and Dusko Pijetlovic contributed 11 goals to the devastating win. A bit later OSC Budapest was even more brutal in Provance – a 2-7 opening period set the tone and the Hungarians stopped at 22 against Pays d’Aix, Krisztian Manhercz was their top scorer with 6.
The third French team lost as well: Tourcoing fell behind early against Crvena Zvezda and tried to catch up the Serbs in vain. Though after 1-4 and 4-7 they managed to come back to 9-10 late in the fourth but the visitors scored two in the last 50 seconds and the three-goal lead should give them some comfort before the second battle in Belgrade.
Just like in the women’s Euro League quarters, the two Russian participants were drawn together and in this competition the visiting side won, too.
Dynamo was in control in the entire match, were 4 goals ahead twice in the game but Sintez halved the gap till the end.
Croatia’s Mladost faced a big challenge as half of the team were in action last week at the Olympic qualifiers but Luka Bukic (3) and Russian leftie Konstantin Kharkov (4) took charge and secured a two-goal win by the end in Spain.
For live results: