Four-goal Norbert Madaras was instrumental for the hosts as Sándor Cseh’s Szolnok triumphed 10-8 in the fifth match of the E.ON men’s championship final series to keep hold of the championship title they won last year.
Both teams entered the arena knowing that it was now or never: there would be no more opportunities, no more matches to come; the 2015/16 championship would be decided once and for all. The atmosphere was electric; the arena packed full an hour before the start, and – three-time Olympic champion, world champion and European champion – Péter Biros, playing his last championship match before retiring from the pool, received a standing ovation from both sets of supporters. On a more poignant note, a minute’s silence was then held for Sándor Tarics, the 102 year-old former Olympic water polo champion who passed away last weekend, before the teams got down to business.
The hosts would get off to a perfect start, Norbert Madaras scoring as Szolnok took the lead for the first time in the final since the first match, some 99 minutes in all – the second match was decided on penalties after all. By the end of the first quarter they would be three goals ahead, Madaras doubling their lead from an advantage, Gergő Zalánki reducing the deficit and then Dénes Varga and Aaron Younger on target. It could have been different had Uroš Čučković and then Márton Szivós made the best of the opportunities which came their way, but the score stood at 4-1 after the opening period.
Szolnok’s early lead would prove telling, the team immediately loosing the nervousness which had crept into their play as Eger game back in games two and three. It became Eger’s time to doubt, failing to capitalise when a man-up although they did bring the score back to 4-2 through Krisztián Bedő. Tamás Mezei, Balázs Hárai, Vámos and the masked Miloš Ćuk were then all off target and Branislav Mitrović called into action twice from fierce Madaras shots, but the score would remain unchanged as the teams broke for half-time.
The third quarter saw an early penalty goal apiece, first Dániel Varga scoring for Szolnok and then Zalánki hitting home a rebound for Eger after Hárai had hit the woodwork with his five metre shot. Chances were missed and advantages squandered, but Szolnok would soon ease four goals clear, the veteran Madaras notching his hat-trick and Norbert Hosnyánszky also getting in on the act. Stefan Mitrović and Balázs Erdélyi did succeed in bringing Eger back to 7-5 but there was always the feeling that the game was just out of reach, Madaras’ fourth goal of the evening reinforcing that sentiment as the teams went into the final break with the score at 8-5.
The final quarter was a case of tit-for-tat, Eger twice getting back to within two goals through Hosnyánszky and a fine Biros effort, but twice Szolnok would reply to go three goals clear as Dániel Varga and Milan Aleksić all but secured the title before Hárai grabbed a late consolation for Eger. Szolnok would not be denied though, running out 10-8 winners to retain their title.
Goalkeeper of the season: Viktor Nagy
Player of the season: Dénes Varga
Result – E. ON men’s OB I. championship, final, 5th match
Szolnoki Dózsa-Közgép 10–8 ZF-Eger (4–1, 0–1¸ 4–3, 2–3)
Szolnok Aréna, 1100 spectators. Referees: B. Székely, A. Németh
SZOLNOK: Nagy V. – Gočić, Madaras 4, Vámos, Dániel Varga 1, Varga Dénes 2, G. Kis. Substitutes: Fülöp, Mezei, Aleksić 1, Younger 1, S. Mitrović 1, D. Jansik. Head coach: Sándor Cseh
EGER: B. Mitrović – Angyal, Hosnyánszky 2, Erdélyi 1, Vapenski, Bedő 1, Biros P. 1. Substitutes: Zalánki 2, Čučković, Lőrincz, M. Ćuk, Szivós, Hárai 1. Head coach: Norbert Dabrowski
Szolnok win 3-2.
Source: Press release – waterpolo.hu