Angelos Vlachopoulos was the hero as Olympiacos produced a stirring comeback to triumph 8-7 right at the death against a Szolnok side which had led throughout. 6-3 down at one point, a stirring second half performance from the Greeks saw Vlachopoulos almost single-handedly hauls his side back into the match as they booked a place in tomorrow’s final.
Szolnok found themselves 4-2 to the good after the first quarter, but despite twice taking the lead they had twice been pegged back by their Greek opponents who had been level at 2-2 in the last minute of the quarter. Stefan Mitrović had given Szolnok a lead, only for Giorgos Ntoskas to level. Aaron Younger put Szolnok ahead for a second time but again Olympiacos came back, this time through Angelos Vlachopoulos. Szolnok forged ahead late in the quarter though, Norbert Madaras putting them ahead for a third time with 31 seconds to go before Milan Aleksić added a spectacular fourth right on the whistle.
Goals would be scarce in the second period, both teams scoring one apiece as Szolnok went off 5-3 at half-time. Dénes Varga’s shot came off the crossbar with Josip Pavić beaten as the Hungarians endeavoured to build up a sizeable lead. Mitrović was next to threaten the Olympiacos goal, his lob-shot seeing Pavić scrambling at full-stretch to tip the ball to safety. Szolnok did extend their lead to three goals courtesy of Gábor Kis, but Manolis Mylonakis reduced the deficit to two goals as the sides went off for the big break.
The third quarter would be a case of Szolnok once again edging three goals ahead but Olympiacos showed great resilience to come back to within a goal, and had it not been for Viktor Nagy in the Szolnok goal, Thodoris Vlachos’ side would have been level going into the final quarter. When Márton Vámos put the Hungarians 6-3 ahead it looked as if a place in the final was theirs for the taking, but Vlachopoulos hauled his side back into the game with two goals before Giannis Fountoulis was denied from five metres as Nagy made an excellent save to maintain Szolnok’s slender 6-5 lead.
Behind for long swathes of the match, Olympiacos turned the game on its head in the final quarter, first equalising through Ntoskas before taking the lead for the first time on the night with Konstantinos Mourikis the scorer. Márton Vámos brought Szolnok level at 7-7, but in the very last second a long pass ball broke off Dénes Varga and into his own net to break Szolnok hearts and put Olympiacos in the final.
The quarters: 4-2, 1-1, 1-2, 1-3
1st quarter: 1-0 Mitrovic, 1-1 Doskas, 2-1 Younger, 2-2 Vlachopoulos, 3-2 Mandaras, 4-2 Aleksic
2nd quarter: 5-2 Kis, 5-3 Mylonakis
3rd quarter: 6-3 Vamos, 6-4 Vlachopoulos, 6-5 Vlachopoulos
4th quarter: 6-6 Doskas, 6-7 Mourikis, 7-7 Vamos, 7-8 Vlachopoulos
Szolnoki: Nagy, Gogic, Madaras 1, Vamos 2, Jansik, Mezei, Aleksic 1, Younger 1, Dan Varga, Den Varga, Kis 1, Mitrovic 1, Decker
Olympiacos (Thodoris Vlachos): Pavic, Mylonakis 1, Delakas, Fountoulis, Smith, Pontikeas, Doskas 2, Mourikis 1, Gounas, Kolomvos, Mallarach, Vlachopoulos 4, Galanopoulos