Sabadell the big winners after spectacular night of Eight Finals action

The first-legs of the thrilling Euro Cup Eight Finals didn’t disappoint, as epic clashes across the continent saw four of the sides that dropped down from the Champions League lose. Three of the games ended with narrow one-goal winning margins, while there was also one tie, meaning there’s still lots to play for in the second-legs.

Eight Finals Results 1st Legs
(Friday, 8th March 2024)

Jug Adriatic Osiguranje (CRO) 12-11 A-Hid Vasas Plaket (HUN)
BVSC-Zuglo (HUN) 13-11 BVK Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 8-8 CC Origia (ITA)
Astralpool CN Sabadell (ESP) 18-11 EN Tourcoing (FRA)
Panionios GSS (GRE) 12-11 CSA Steaua Bucharest (ROU)
Primorje Erste Bank (CRO) 8-7 WPC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
Rari Nantes Savona (ITA) 16-10 Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE)
CN Barcelona (ESP) 13-17 Vouliagmeni NC (GRE)

(2nd Legs – Saturday, 23rd March 2024)

Title-holders Vasas arrived in Dubrovnik in a confident mood, and that showed throughout their first-leg as they never allowed Jug to take full control, even though the hosts threatened to do so at times.

After a cagey first quarter, where both sides traded blows for 2-2, the Croatian giants started to get the upper-hand in the second, dominating the play and executing a 4-0 rush to put them 7-3 ahead with just over a minute left in the half.

A time-out for the visitors, just before Jug’s seventh, refocused the Hungarians, who fired in twice to cut the deficit to two (7-5) at the turnaround.

Sergi Cabanas converted on extra for 8-5 at the start of the third, and anything he could do, so could Strahinja Rasovic, who also scored on man-up for 8-6.

Cabanas then grabbed his hat-trick goal for 9-6, before Nikola Dedovic hit back to make it 9-7 ahead of a frantic final quarter.

Goals from Bogdan Djerkovic and Cabanas early in the fourth swung the tie back in Jug’s favour for 11-7, and a four-goal lead would have been a nice margin to take into the second-leg.

Vasas weren’t ready to lie down though and their response was impressive, converting two man-ups for 11-9 with just over two minutes to play.

Hannes Daube then hit his third of the game to extend Jug’s lead to three (12-9), but two powerful late goals in the final 60 seconds from Gergely Burian made the final score 12-11.

Vasas left the pool the happier of the two sides, having trailed by four and three for spells of the game, and all eyes will now be on Budapest in a fortnight’s time for the second-leg which remains firmly in the balance.

After the day six heroics in the group stage to reach the Eight Finals, Italy’s Ortigia were rewarded with a clash against Germany’s Spandau, and they very nearly came away with a healthy first-leg lead.

The visitors’ intentions were clear from the start, as Lorenzo Cassia hammered in twice to give Ortigia a 0-2 lead midway through the first quarter.

It took Spandau almost eight minutes to register their first goal, with Tamas Sedlmayer beating the buzzer to make it 1-2 with the last throw before the break.

The second quarter was another tight affair, with Japanese star Yusuke Inaba striking twice for Ortigia and the hosts also scoring two to make it 3-4 at half-time.

It was in the third quarter that the Italians began to silence the home crowd, as they pulled away with a 0-3 streak to put them 4-7 ahead.

After losing the third 1-3, and trailing by three, Spandau knew they had to step up a gear and that’s exactly what they did in the fourth.  

Three unanswered goals – and some excellent defensive work – for Spandau soon levelled the scores at 7-7, and despite Inaba edging Ortigia back in front, Andrei Prioteasa had the final say to end the scoring at 8-8.

Primorje and Dinamo Tbilisi also played out a close and exciting encounter, with the Croatian side finishing up with a narrow 8-7 victory.

After six successive defeats in the Champions League group stage, Dinamo once again returned home empty-handed, but they will still fancy their chances of overturning the one-goal deficit in the second leg.

The loss could have been heavier, as the hosts led 8-5 late in the fourth, but goals from Uros Kalinic and Boris Vapenski ensured Dinamo remain firmly in the hunt for a quarter final spot.

In Spain, CN Barcelona produced a magnificent final eight minutes to keep in touch with Vouliagmeni, who led 8-15 at the end of the third.

The Greek side were majestic in possession and looked on course for a very lob-sided win – they were 5-11 up at the turnaround after a dominant 2-6 second quarter.

Barcelona also lost the third 3-4 and had somewhat of a mountain to climb in order to keep the tie alive.

Spurred on by a passionate home crowd, a 4-0 burst at the start of the fourth was exactly what they needed, and at 12-15, the score suddenly felt a lot more respectable.

Aristeidis Chalyvopoulos then converted a penalty for Vouliagmeni to put them four ahead, but Barcelona responded quickly with a goal of their own and they wanted more.

Sending everyone up for a seven-on-six final attack backfired though, as the ball fell to Efstathhios Kalogeropoulos, who launched the ball the length of the pool into the empty net for 13-17.

Elsewhere, Panionois edged an epic tussle with Steau Bucharest in Athens, with Nikola Moskov firing in the winner for 12-11 with just under 30 seconds remaining.

The Romanians, like Tbilisi, are yet to record a win in Europe this season, but they can consider themselves a little unlucky not to come away at least level.

Leading 4-5 at half-time, the visitors began to wobble a little in the third as they slipped to 7-6.

A feast of attacking action in the fourth produced 10 goals, but with each side hitting five, it ensured the Greek side will head to Bucharest in a fortnight with a slender advantage.

Meanwhile, BVSC maintained their impressive home form in Europe this season with a 13-11 win against Crvena Zvezda.

It was the Hungarians fourth successive victory in their own pool and they will be hopeful their two-goal advantage will be enough to carry them over the line in the return leg.

BVSC captain Miklos Csapo delivered an outstanding performance, top scoring for the hosts with four, although he could have had more had he not fluffed a fourth quarter penalty.

In Sabadell, Tourcoing had an evening to forget as they crashed 18-11 to the dominant hosts.

The Spanish side cruised past the visitors, winning all four quarters, to plant one foot firmly in the quarter-finals.

Alberto Barroso led the way for Sabadell, hitting six, while Francisco Valera scored four.

Last season’s runners-up Savona finished their game with Herceg Novi in style, demolishing the stunned visitors 6-2 in the closing stages to finish 16-10 winners.

Despite four goals from Ilija Radovic, the visitors never really got going, and their poor fourth quarter means they’ve left themselves a lot to do in the second leg.

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