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04.10.2015, 21:10
Black day for Scandinavian sides
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GROUP B REVIEW: Kolding and Kristianstad lose, while Barcelona take another lucky win.
 

Black day for Scandinavian sides

Vardar are the new leaders in Group B of the VELUX EHF Champions League courtesy of Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s draw against Kielce on Wednesday and the Macedonian team’s third win in three rounds.

Defending champions FC Barcelona Lassa cheated the gallows in Szeged, while Montpellier HB won the ‘basement duel’ against Kolding thanks to a solid chase in the final minutes.

IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 25:30 (13:15)

Vardar had learnt their lesson well, being fully prepared for the surprise Swedish team, who’s first two rounds saw them beat Kolding and come close to a tie with Barcelona. But in the end, Vardar deserved to take their third win in their third match, making them the only team in Group B to have a clear record of six points prior to their next game: ehfTV.com’s Match of the Week against unbeaten Rhein-Neckar Löwen on 10 October.

The Macedonians built the base for their win in the initial stages with a 9:3 start thanks to goals from Alem Toskic and Timur Dibirov (top scorers with seven goals each). Kristianstad were too passive in defence and not efficient enough in attack to stand the power of the Macedonian champions.

But at the end of the first and through the start of the second half, Vardar lost their concentration while the Swedish champions had their strongest period, boosted by fans. After the score board showed 13:15 at the break, Kristianstad had the chance to level the result at 18:18 – but failed.

This was the alarm bell for Vardar, who hit the net four times in a row to take the score to 22:17. Kristianstad’s resistance was finally broken when Dibirov scored 25:19 to decide the match.

The best scorer of the hosts was Jerry Tollbring with seven goals.

Barcelona_Jallouz_465

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 28:30 (12:13)

For the second straight time, defending champions FC Barcelona Lassa won a match that was on the edge until the final shot.

In contrast to the match against Kristianstad last week Barca did not enable their opponent to bridge the gap, but they still had to struggle until the end to climb the high hurdle presented by the 2014 EHF Cup winners. Finally the deal was sealed by Barcelona team captain Victor Tomas no less than five seconds before the end, right after Slovenian shooter Dean Bombac had lit the fire for Szeged with the 28:29 score line.

Szeged had the upper hand in the first minutes, leading the Barcelona 8:5 – but it took the defending champions only seven minutes to level the result at 9:9 and take the lead 10:9.

Both sides stood extremely strong in defence in the first half with Barcelona maintaining an edge to keep ahead 13:12 at the break.

Within ten minutes the distance rose to three goals at 20:17 and Barcelona seemed to have full control while Szeged had lost their pace in attack. But Juan Carlos Pastor squad never surrenders – thanks to the support from the stands and their fighting spirit, Szeged rose again and were close to close the gap again at 21:22.

Barcelona could not cast off the hosts anymore. Szeged – backed seven goals each from Jonas Källman and Zsolt Balogh – were always down by one, but could not manage to equalise again – so the match was decided with the last attack.

Tomas, Raul Entrerrios-Rodriguez, Kiril Lazarov and Filip Jicha each scored five times for the Catalans.

"Szeged played excellent handball and forced us into a very tough game. The supporters made a great atmosphere. We had a good series in the second half, which ultimately was decisive," said Barcelona coach Xavier Pascual.

Szeged’s Spanish counterpart Juan Carlos Pastor agreed: “In addition to what Xavi said, one factor was decisive: Barcelona’s player have more experience than us and we made too many easy mistakes in defence.”

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) 30:25 (14:14)

One day Montpellier legend and team captain Michael Guigou announced he is leaving after the season, Patrice Canayer’s team reacted and took their first win of the Champions League season.

Without their new arrival Konstantin Igropulo, who had a serious appendix operation this week, KIF could not stop their negative run and remain on the bottom of Group B still waiting for their first point.

Both sides had their backs against the wall after two defeats each – and surprisingly the two teams with so far the weakest attack of Groups A and B entertained the spectators with 55 goals.

The match was a personal duel between Borut Mackovsek (Montpellier), Lasse Bredekjaer Andersson and Kasper Ryan Irming Andersen (KIF) to be the top scorer – a duel that ended equal with nine goals each. 17 of the 30 Montpellier goals were scored by Slovenians – but funnily enough the usual top scorer Dragan Gajic only struck once.

After an equal first half, Montpellier made their fans happy with four straight goals to put them in front 18:14, but this was a wake-up call for KIF: Led by their strong back court axis the Danish champions first equalised and then seemed to be on their way to a win when they were in front 25:23.

But that was all KIF could give on Sunday – Montpellier improved in defence again, allowed only two more goals from the Danes and scored seven to earn two important points in the race for the Last 16.


TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg
 
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