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Barça beat Cuatro Rayas / PHOTO: V. Salgado / ASOBAL

The Azulgranas earned a ticket to the final of the King’s Cup. FC Barcelona Intersport beat out the team that sent the Catalans out of the tournament last year, Cuarto Rayas Valladolid (26-28).

Valladolid came out strong in the first half. Noddesbo took charge of Barça’s offence in the first minutes, scoring two of the Catalan team’s three goals. Valladolid was up to the task, however, and they stayed toe to toe with Barça in a first half marked by both teams executing lethal counterattacks.

Both Barça and Valladolid players saw that counterattacking was the best way to create danger. From the start,  Juan Carlos Pastor’s men took a two-goal lead, while Barça found it difficult to test José Manuel Sierra’s goal.

Whenever the Catalans tried to get close to their opposition’s goal, they were imminently pinned back with fast counterattacks. However, Barça was able to stay close to their rival because they were much more effective in front of goal.

Rutenka, with an assist and a goal, carried his team in the first half (11-10), but the exclusions of Sorhaindo and Igropulo blocked Xavi Pascual’s game plan. With 8 minutes to go before halftime, a seven meter shot allowed Valladolid to take a three-goal lead, in fact before the end of the half, Pascual’s men, who were struggling to display their skill, found themselves four goals down.

The Barça manager was forced to call timeout to try and rectify the situation. Moments later, it was Rutenka, from the penalty spot, that stopped Valladolid’s momentum. Nonetheless, Barça went to the dressing room at the half with a three-goal deficit (16-13).

Bad start and suffering

In the second half Valladolid scored right off the bat and Sierra saved a penalty. After throwing men forward, Barça took advantage of their superior numbers and came within one of their rival thanks to two goals from Ugalde (20-19). With possession and the option to make a comeback, Xavi Pascual’s men went all out, but it was Cuatro Rayas that benefited and they, once again, took a three-goal lead (22-19). The keeper Sierra was on form and made life hard for the Azulgranas by saving another penalty.

Fight back

Two goals from Rutenka from the penalty spot injected life back into the Catalan side (23-22). Albert Rocas, minutes later, brought Barça level. With a keeper-player on the court, Naszlo Nagy took advantage of a loose ball to put his team ahead. The game had chanced with a 4-0 run for Barça.

Experience to close out the game

It happened against Naturhouse La Rioja and Xavi Pascual’s men did it again. After fighting back all game long, the Clués leaned on their experience to close out the match against Cuatro Rayas Valladolid. In a final frenetic minute, Rutenka was merciless from seven meters (26-27) and Saric, once again showed that he’s an incredible keeper with a sensational save. In the end, Barça knew how to manage their lead and they didn’t give their opposition a chance to fight back. In the last possession of the match, Víctor Tomás scored to seal the deal for Barça. FCB Intersport, after a grueling semi-final, earned a ticket to the final.

MATCH STATS

CUATRO RAYAS VALLADOLID, 26

FC BARCELONA INTERSPORT, 28

Cuatro Rayas Valladolid (16+13): Sierra; Víctor Alonso (1), Gurbindo (3), Ávila (-), Asier Antonio (-), Krivokapic (4) y Nikcevic (3) -starting five- Lamariano (ps), Eilert (1), Romero (4), Tokic (-), Joli (6, 4p), Cutura (4) and Félix García (-)

Barcelona Intersport (10+15): Sjostrand; Rocas (3), Nagy (3), Raúl Entrerríos (-), Aguirrezabalaga (2), Ugalde (2) y Noddesbo (3) -starting five- Saric (ps), Juanín García (2, 1p), Víctor Tomás (2), Sorhaindo (2), Sarmiento (2),Jermenyr (-), Rutenka (7, 4p), Morros (-) and Igropulo (-)

Referees: Raluy and Sabroso.

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