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22.02.2014, 17:30
First ever Ukrainian team in the Last 16
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MATCH REVIEW: Motor Zaporozhye sensationally beat Veszprém 26:22 to clinch their berth for the knock-out stage.
 

First ever Ukrainian team in the Last 16

A miracle came true in Kharkiv on Saturday afternoon as Motor Zaporozhye became the first team to end the unbeaten streak of group winner MKB-MVM Veszprém to secure the last spot for the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League. A brilliant performance of Motor's goalkeeper Richard Stochl against his former team after the break proved to be instrumental for the Ukrainian side.

After missing two previous chances to clinch the play-off vs Celje and Zagreb, Motor became the first ever Ukrainian team to secure their berth for the Last 16 since the introduction of the current playing system in the 2009/10 season.

With nine points on their account, Zaporozhye left Zagreb behind and finish on the fourth position, regardless the result of the Croatian champions against St. Petersburg later on Saturday.

After eight victories and a draw at Rhein Neckar Löwen, Veszprém, who played without Laszlo Nagy in Ukraine, were defeated for the first time in this season, but had been confirmed as group winner before. FC Barcelona remains the only unbeaten team of the group phase before their Sunday's trip to Metalurg.

Group A:

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs. MKB-MVM Veszprém (HUN) 26:22 (13:13)

After a 0:2 start Zaporozhye grabbed their chances and forged ahead to 5:3 and even 10:7 in minute 17, led by their best scorers Inal Aflitulin and Oleg Skopintsev. But as goalkeeper Nandor Fazekas improved, Veszprém equalised by a triple-strike to the half time score of 13:13.

Although the Hungarian side had the better start and marched ahead to 16:14, Motor were anything but beaten. In contrast they fought with the clearly greater will. Being highly efficient in attack against an unusual weak Veszprém defence, the Ukrainians first re-took the lead and then caused a time-out of Veszprém coach Carlos Ortega 12 minutes left in the game, when his team was down by 20:22 after two straight ice-cold penalty goals of Alexander Semikov.

Boosted by the drums of some hundreds spectators in Kharkiv, Zaporozhye additional profited from the in total 14 Veszprém turnovers and punished them by counter-attack goals.

The gate to the Last16 was wide open, when Egor Evdokimov netted in for 24:21 with eight minutes remaining and Ortega immediately called for his final time-out.

And the dream was close to become reality, when Sergij Onufriyenko managed to convert a missed Veszprém pass to score from a counter-attack for 25:21. The arena went crazy, and goalkeeper Richard Stochl became the tower of power against a desperate shooting Hungarian side. When the final was blown Motor knew that they are still on the road.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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