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23.02.2013, 20:50
León in, Montpellier out, Hamburg first
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German team eliminate French champions for the first time since a decade from the second round, while Ademar jump for joy after beating Partizan
 

León in, Montpellier out, Hamburg first

The last decisions in the Group Stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League have been taken: Ademar León are the 16th and last team to qualify for the Last 16 after beating Partizan and the parallel defeat of Montpellier at Hamburg. Thanks to this victory, Hamburg finish on the first position in Group A.

Before, Pick Szeged had secured their spot for the last 16, because Schaffhausen lost at Zagreb, and Veszprém became winner of Group B.

Group A:

Reale Ademar León (ESP) vs. RK Partizan Beograd (SRB) 28:23 (14:10)

The final result does not reflect the rundown of the match, as Partizan were on eye level for a long time and were a really high hurdle for Ademar. Like in the first leg – the only Partizan victory in this competition – León were quite nervous and hectic in attack, while the defence of Serbian outfit stood like a fortress.

Thanks to a last-second goal and as Partizan failed by a penalty shot some seconds before, León were in lead by four goals at the break. One thought that the host would be more patient and relaxed backed by this gap was wrong. Belgrade still defended well, and Ademar could thank their goalkeeper Inaki Aldave that the match did not turn around in the middle of the second half, when Partizan were close at 18:20.

But finally the goals of the Bosnian Faruk Vrazalić – who was not only as cold as ice form the penalty line – decided the match. Latest at the 28:23 the winner was confirmed – and then the long wait for the final result at Hamburg began – and in the end they jumped for joy in Spain.  Top scorer was Carlos Ruesga by ten goals for Leon, Aleksandar Radovanović scored five times for Partizan.

HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. Montpellier Agglomération HB (FRA) 35:33 (18:15)

19 saves of goalkeeper Johannes Bitter and nine goals of Hans Lindberg were the keys for HSV to win this crucial duel, finally taking the top position in Group A – and eliminating Montpellier despite a great final fight and eight goals of William Accambray.

The German-French duel was a battle for every centimeter from the first second on. Hamburg had the better start, as they could count on the clearly better defence and led by 12:6 mainly thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Bitter. But Montpellier improved from minute to minute and forced HSV coach Martin Schwalb to take his time-out at 13:10.

After the three goals gap at the break, Montpellier equalized for the first time thanks to a triple strike at 18:18. Everything was open again, the Frenchmen fought hard against the elimination, the Germans for the top position in the group. In the middle of the second half the lead changed constantly, no team could forge ahead to more than two goals.

It was like a roller coaster changing its direction permanently: At 23:25 Montpellier were in the knock-out stage, three minutes later they were below by one goal. As on Montpellier side mainly the experienced player Issem Tej and Michael Guigou and aside Willam Accambray scored, Hamburg could count on their fast wing players like their top scorer Hans Lindberg.

Finally the Germans were on the winner’s way after four straight goals from 28:29 to 32:29. Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer took his second time-out in only five minutes with just three minutes on the clock and a score of 31:33 against his team, which additionally have the disadvantage that Tej received a two minutes suspension in the final stages.

But despite running down the clock patiently, Hamburg first failed by a penalty shot of Hans Lindberg, then missed two shots and caused an offensive foul – but when world champions Pascal Hens stroke the 34:32 for the HSV the fans went crazy, knowing that Hamburg have finished on top of this group ahead of their Northern rival Flensburg.

On the other side, the Montpellier players fell on the floor, as exactly ten years after their triumph in the EHF Champions League, they missed the knock-out stage for the first time.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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