Favourites Pro Recco and Novi Beograd blow their rivals away

The two favourites in Group A – Recco and Novi Beograd – who had played the last two finals, opened the Quarter Final Stage with convincing home wins, over Marseille and Jadran Split respectively.

Group A Results:
Pro Recco (ITA) 15-8 CN Marseille (FRA)
Novi Beograd (SRB) 15-11 Jadran Split (CRO)

Recco, champions in the last three years and Novi Beograd, the runners-up in 2022 and 2023, opened their quest with big wins.

Both matches were virtually decided by half-time as the home sides offered a defensive masterclass.

Recco jumped to a 5-2 lead in eight minutes and even though Marseille managed to slow them down a bit, the French still trailed 7-3 at halftime.

And in the third it was Recco all the way, a 4-0 run ended the contest – the Italian defence worked splendidly, they shut out their rivals for almost the entire period, Marco del Lungo even stopped a penalty, then conceded one 31 seconds before the last break.

Recco was leading 12-4 so the grip of their defence loosened a bit in the fourth when the visitors got as many goals as in the previous three periods, still, they added three more to bag a super-convincing 15-8 victory.

Even though Jadran Split lined up with freshly-crowned world champions in Belgrade, in two periods it turned out that the brilliant runs at the Europeans and the Worlds had maybe burnt the Croatian aces out.

None of them were anywhere near the level they showed while grabbing silver in January and claiming the world title in February.

On the contrary, their Zagreb nemesis, Alvaro Granados – who had hit THAT game winning backhand in the European final – was on fire as he finished the night with six goals for Novi Beograd.

His Serbian team mates were also rolling, after Jadran took the lead, NBG hit back with seven straight goals while the Croats were unable to score for more than 15 minutes.

They scored the first 54 seconds into the game, the next one came 26 seconds before the end of the second, when the home side was already 7-1 up.

And Theodoros Vlachopoulos still replied with 0:02 on the clock, giving Novi Beograd an 8-2 lead by halftime.

Though the Croats found the way to score more in the second half to come a bit closer  (though not all of them, their master-shooter Marco Jerinic-Kragic finished the game with 0 for 4).

Still, the gap was never reduced to less than four goals, the Serbs were comfortably cruising while keeping the Croatian defence under enormous pressure as they took 36 shots and 29 of those were on target.

Mate Anic came up with 14 saves – which should be a game-winning stat on other days, now it only let Jadran avoid a bigger defeat.

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