Champions League Final Six: Jug hold nerve to reach final

Croatians Jug Dubrovnik defeated Pro Recco 10-9 in the Champions League semi-finals, the second year in a row they have progressed to the final at the expense of the Italians. Recco had come into the tie on the back of ten Champions League victories in a row this season but last season’s winners held there nerve and will now face Szolnok in Saturday’s final.

The first semi-final in the 2017 Champions League Final Six saw a re-run of last season, and the match almost running to the very same script. When the two sides met at the Hajós pool on Margitsziget last year Jug prevailed 5-4 on penalties following a 10-10 draw. On that occasion Jug had raced into a 4-1 lead in the second quarter, this time round they were even quicker off the mark.

Maro Joković, Luka Lončar and Josip Vrlić were all on target as Jug raced into an early 3-0 lead in the first period, and although Aleksandar Ivović got one back for Recco, Paulo Obradović saw the Croatians 4-1 to the good. Recco fought back however, Croat Sandro Sukno scoring from a penalty to set the score at 4-2 after the first quarter, and Francesco di Fulvio bringing them back to 4-3 in the second. Jug held firm though, last year’s hero Marko Bijač again excelling in goal as Hrvoje Benić scored a fifth. Filip Filipović got Recco to 5-4, but with Xavier García replying, the scores stood at 6-4 to Jug at half time.

The third quarter ebbed and flowed, first Recco scoring three in a row as they drew level at 6-6 thanks to strikes from Dušan Mandić and Sukno before Filipovic scored his second of the evening to put the Italians ahead for the first time. Jug replied with three of their own however, Pavo Marković, Lončar and García on the score sheet as Vjekoslav Kobešćak’s side raced 9-7 ahead before Filipović’s third goal made it 9-8 with only two seconds of the period left.

Brazilian Felipe Perrone gave Jug a two-goal cushion in the final quarter, and although Filip Filipović scored his fourth of the evening to bring Recco back to within a goal at 10-9 with 4:17 left on the clock, Jug held their nerve to prevail 10-9 and make their second final in a row. Standing in their way as they seek to make it two Champions League titles in a row, will be Szolnok. 
LEN Champions League Final Six

Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia) 10–9 Pro Recco (Italy) (4–2, 2–2, 3–4, 1–1)
Duna Aréna, referees: Alexandrescu (Romania), Buch (Spain)

JUG DUBROVNIK: Bijac – Fatovic, Jokovic 1, Garcia 2, Vrlic 1, Perrone 1, Obradovic 1. Replacements: Macan, Loncar 2, Markovic 1, Pavlicevic, Benic 1. Head coach: Vjekoslav Kobescak

PRO RECCO: Tempesti – Mandic 1, Sukno 2, Fondelli, Ivovic 1, Filipovic 4, Bodegas. Replacements: di Fulvio 1, Figlioli, Molina, Pijetlovic, Aicardi, Volarevic (GK). Head coach: Vladimir Vujasinovic

Remaining programme

Saturday 27 May
3rd place play-off: Pro Recco - ZF-Eger, 15:15
Final: Jug Dubrovnik - Szolnoki Dózsa-Közgép, 16:45