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19.09.2015, 20:42
Flensburg sink PSG as Wisla scrape home draw with Veszprem
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GROUP A DAY REVIEW: The tripleheader produced an afternoon of enthralling handball across Europe, with the competition’s 2014 winners Flensburg taking centre stage thanks to an impressive victory over Paris Saint-Germain Handball.

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

Flensburg sink PSG as Wisla scrape home draw with Veszprem

VELUX EHF Champions League action produced a super-Saturday as the cream of Europe’s club handball treated fans to some breathtaking action, particularly Flensburg who gave much-fancied PSG a real roasting on home court.

Slovenian outfit Celje celebrated their 99th win in the competition after beating Turkish rivals Besiktas, who suffered their 10th defeat as they opened their second successive season in Europe’s top flight.

Last season’s runners-up Veszprem appeared to be heading for a precious win at Orlen Wisla Plock but the Polish side fought back valiantly to earn a deserved share of the spoils.

GROUP A

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL vs MVM Veszprem (HUN) 27:27 (11:13)

A last-gasp goal by Russian Dmitry Zhitnikov allowed Wisla to earn a creditable draw against one of the powerhouses of European club handball, sending the home fans into raptures after the visitors seemed to be heading for a win in Poland.

"We lost one point here. It is always very hard to play in this arena because of the local fans and the fantastic atmosphere they create. We played very well and controlled the game, but five minutes before the end we lost our rhythm and Plock turned the tables," Veszprem coach Antonio Carlos Ortega said.

Swedish pivot Andreas Nilsson was unstoppable for the Hungarian outfit in the first half, scoring almost at will while his quick and unpredictable movement on the six-metre line forced the home side to give away a barrage of penalties.

With Veszprem leading 7:4, Portuguese Tiago Rocha kept Wisla afloat in the early stages. Marko Tarabochia and Nemanja Zelenovic also found their range, enabling Wisla to tie the score at 10:10 before a late flurry  gave the visitors a two-goal halftime lead.

Slovenian sharpshooter Gasper Marguc could not miss for Veszprem from the seven-metre penalty line, keeping the hosts on the back foot until the final stages of the rip-roaring contest.

There seemed to be no way back for Wisla when Mate Lekai fired the visitors into a 26:22 lead with several minutes left, but the hard-fighting Polish runners-up showed remarkable grit and determination to claw their way back.

Although they scored three unreplied goals, a draw looked far-fetched after Veszprem’s Serbian left back Momir Ilic netted his fourth to make the score 27:25 with only a minute left.

But after Rocha cut the deficit to one goal moments later and Veszprem threw away their last possession, Zhitnikov found room at the other end to level the score with four second left on the clock.

Rocha led all scorers with nine goals, with Zelenovic, Tarabochia and Zhitnikov adding four each for Wisla. Nilsson and Marguc netted six apiece for Veszprem while Ilic chipped in with four.  

"Our great fans supported us in the crucial moments. We showed a lot of heart and we did not stop to believe that we can make a good result. Each and every player contributed to this point," Tarabochia said.

Besiktas MOGAZ HT (TUR) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) 24:30 (13:13)

Slovenian title holders Celje Pivovarna Lasko made a perfect start to their VELUX EHF Champions League campaign with an emphatic win at Turkey’s Besiktas, but were forced to play at full throttle against a spirited home side.

It seemed Celje would run out comfortable winners when they took a 6:3 lead, having taken 10 minutes to settle into their stride. However, Besiktas were not about to roll over and kept coming back in an action-packed opening period.

Ramazan Döne and Predrag Dacevic proved to be a handful for Celje’s defence, combining for 10 of the home side’s 13 first half goals. Ziga Mlakar was also on song at the other end but the visitors appeared to be in trouble after two quickfire goals gave Besiktas a 15:13 lead shortly after the interval.

Thriving from fast breaks throughout the contest, Celje then engineered a 6:1 run which gave them the lead for good and forced the Turkish outfit, roared on by a partisan home crowd, into submission.

Reducing the arrears to 22:24 was the home team’s last ray of hope before they ran out of steam and Celje duly took advantage in the closing stages to record their 99th Champions League win.

It was also a milestone 10th loss for Besiktas, who nevertheless left the court with their pride intact after a spirited performance.

Gal Marguc and Ziga Mlakar led the way for Celje with seven goals each. The robust Döne also netted seven and Dacevic scored six for Besiktas.
 
SG Flenburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) 39:32 (21:16)

The match of the day totally lived up to its billing as Flensburg and PSG treated fans in Flensburg and those across Europe watching the game on television to a magnificent contest.

A fast and furious start by Flensburg was decisive as PSG never looked like recovering after falling behind 7:2 in the cauldron of the German side’s jam-packed arena.

The French side, who now have a 50 percent Champions League ratio with 20 wins and as many defeats along with three draws, kept getting caught out by Flensburg’s fast breaks.

Danish winger Anders Eggert used his lightening speed to devastating effect, tearing the PSG defence to pieces as he drilled in eight first-half goals to put his side in the driving seat.

Right back Holger Glandorf added four as goals kept raining in from all angles for a rampant home team, while star acquisition Nikola Karabatic was stifled at the other end.

PSG’s tame resistance rested on the broad Danish shoulders of Mikkel Hansen, who also netted four in the opening period to keep the visitors barely in touch.

Hansen kept going after the break and Karabatic finally found his range but the home side were not about to throw away their hard-earned advantage, with Glandorf unleashing several thunderbolts from his position to make sure there was no twist in the tale.

Eggert also rediscovered his scoring touch in the last quarter of the game to keep PSG at bay and he put the icing on the cake with a spectacular in-flight goal to make the score 37:31 with only a couple of minutes left.

It was just reward for Flensburg, who blew away the fast-emerging heavyweights from Paris. The French team still have work to do in order to put all the pieces of the puzzle into place, having benefited from several years of heavy investment by the club’s owners.

The magnificent Eggert led all scorers with 13 goals and Glandorf provided the much-needed support with nine for Flensburg. Hansen scored nine goals for PSG and Karabatic finished with seven, but his good second-half performance came too little too late for the visitors.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / br
 
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