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ELPozo-FCB Alusport. PHOTO: RUBÉN DE PEDRO- LNFS

Barça Alusport started off the final series of the LNFS on the right foot: taking home-court advantage away for ElPozo Murcia. The Azulgranas, who played a very serious and practical game, managed to weather the pressure from the fans and the offensive flurry from the home side to take the first match of the series. The match - the first of a best of five series - was decided in overtime where Fernandao and Wilde put ElPozo to the sword.

Forgiveness and punishment

The start of the first half was electric as the two best teams in the Liga clashed in a bid to take the advantage in the series. The first team to try their luck was Barça Alusport: after winning back possession on defence, the team launched a fast counterattack with fast transitions - the ball, however, skipped narrowly wide of the post. Lozano, Lin and Igor were all close to netting the first goal of the game. The Azulgranas were not converting their chances and they paid dearly for it. ElPozo, thanks to an inspired Álex scored the go-ahead goal on five minutes. On the following play, the same play hit the post. The 1-0 was a blow for Marc Carmona’s men.

The captain and Lozano lead Barça’s reaction

The entrance of captain Javi Rodríguez came onto the court gave Barça confidence. The Catalans kept up their assault of ElPozo’s goal but they simply couldn’t get past the keeper Rafa. On the 10th minute, however, Sergio Lozano saved the 2-0 on the goal line and on the counterattack, Barça’s number 9, made sure to equalise thanks to an assist from Javi Rodríguez. The match was riddled with shows of talent and quality, and both teams were allowing a lot of space for attractive play. The game was a seesaw of chances of both teams. Cristian, once again, was Barça’s lifeline and, at the same time, the nightmare of ElPozo.

Unfortunate 2-2

If it hadn’t been for the incredible performances of the keepers, the scoreboard would have reflected a much more ample scoreline than the 1-2 (thanks to Fernandao’s goal). With this result, ElPozo needed to take the initiative against Barça Alusport, who were organised and waiting. The inherent risks of attacking gave Barça many chances to increase their lead on the counter. Things were looking up for Barça, but the Catalans were unfortunate when Igor accidentally scored an own goal.

The teams duke it out

With the 2-2, ElPozo became more confident. The insurmountable Cristian was employing all of his skill to keep Barça in the match. The Catalans were up against the ropes. The game was fluid, and the chances were not scarce. The match quickly descended into a back and forth flurry that;s attractive for fans but arguably just as stressful for managers. Following the unpredictable tone of the match, the Azulgranas managed to make it 2-3, thanks to a goal from Lozano after a fast counterattack (min. 32). Later, Lin had the chance to score Barça’s fourth, but the ball went high. Grello, however, didn’t miss his chance on the next play (3-3).

There were six minutes left on the clock and both the teams had already committed five collective fouls. It was impossible to know how the match would end. The fans were cheering on their home-town heroes, but the visiting side were holding on. Barça were lucky when Álex missed the empty net follow-up shot after Miguelín hit the post (min 38). There was no time for anything else, the buzzer blared and the players prepared for five minutes of overtime.

Carmona’s tactics, key in Barça’s victory

Overtime started with good news for Barça: Fernandao was back on the court. The Barça player quickly made it 3-4 to give his team the vital lead. The goal forced ElPozo to play with a keeper-player. Wilde killed off the bout between the two sides as he nailed his shot into the back of ElPozo’s net. The two following games will be at the Palau. Barça Alusport have home-court advantage.

MATCH STATS

EL POZO MÚRCIA, 3
FCB ALUSPORT, 5

El Pozo Múrcia: Rafa, Saúl, De Bail, Grello, Esquerdinha –starting five-, Bebe, Kike, Álex, Adri, Miguelín i Salgado.

FCB Alusport: Cristian, Torras, Lin, Lozano, Wilde –starting five-, Javi Rodríguez, Igor, Gabriel, Fernandao i Saad.

GOALS: 1-0 Àlex (min 5), 1-1 Lozano (min 10), 1-2 Fernandao (min 16), 2-2 Igor pròpia porta (min 25), 2-3 Lozano (min 32), 3-3 Grello (min 33), 3-4 Fernandao (min 41). 3-5 Wilde (min 43)

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