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22.03.2013, 00:00
Hamburg first quarter-finalist despite defeat
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Celje storm the HSV fortress and are the first foreign team to win on a German court in this season
 

Hamburg first quarter-finalist despite defeat

Despite a 28:31 (13:12) home defeat HSV Hamburg are the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League season 2012/13.

The clear 38:29 away victory at RK Pivovarna Laško Celje in the first leg was enough to march through to the next stage of the competition.

Celje have finished their international campaign with their heads held high, as the Slovenian team broke some records: They were the first team to defeat HSV at home in the European top flight since their Last 16 elimination in March 2012 against Füchse Berlin.

They were additionally the first team who beat Hamburg in all competitions since the comeback of goalkeeper Johannes Bitter in December.

Most impressive is that Celje's away win was the first home defeat of a German team in the current VELUX EHF Champions League – snapping a streak of 20 unbeaten matches (17 victories, three draws) of Hamburg, Flensburg, Berlin and defending champions Kiel.

“I wish Hamburg all the best for the draw and the upcoming competition,” said Celje coach Vladan Matić. “I am sure that Hamburg will go all the way to the FINAL4. We have a young team with lots to learn. In the first leg we were not able to cause a major surprise, but today we performed well and we are proud to have beaten HSV.”

On the other hand the loser was not that disappointed.

“We are happy to be in the quarter-finals again. It was our only objective to proceed,” said HSV coach Martin Schwalb.

“I was proven that Celje have a really strong team with a great character and fighting spirit, a strong defence and perfect individual skills. Our defence was too open and was not as movable as in Celje. Additionally, we missed too many chances.”

Hamburg goalkeeper Johannes Bitter – whose series of success has come to and end, was not that bitter about the result.

“In case we needed to win, we would have won to proceed,” Bitter says. For his team it was the first defeat since 14 matches in all competitions.

Top scorers of the match were Domagoj Duvnjak (Hamburg) and again Borut Mačkovšek (Celje) with seven goals each. In total, Mačkovšek stroke 20 goals in both last 16 legs.

Celje were the better team leading 7:8 before Hamburg scored four straight goals. But the Slovenian side fought hard and managed to reduce the half-time gap to only one goal.

After the break Hamburg were not that concentrated in attack and the 20:19 was the last time the hosts took the lead, before the visitors, who already had beaten defending champions THW Kiel in Celje in the Group Phase, forged ahead to 24:21. They took a full control and decided the match at 30:27.

But despite the home defeat Hamburg have qualified for the fifth time in their sixth appearance for the VELUX EHF  Champions for the quarter-finals and will be in Pot 1 in the draw on next Tuesday (11:00  hrs. local time, streamed live on www.ehfTV.com).


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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