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10.10.2015, 21:36
Home sides triumph in Saturday's Group B matches
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GROUP B REVIEW: Vardar earned a fourth straight victory by handing Rhein-Neckar Löwen their first defeat while KS Vive Tauron Kielce and FC Barcelona Lassa recorded comfortable wins
 

Home teams triumph in Saturday's Group B matches

HC Vardar are looking like the team to beat in Group B of the VELUX EHF Champions League after securing their fourth straight victory against Rhein-Neckar Löwen. Sitting second in the group, KS Vive Tauron Kielce were victorious over IFK Kristianstad in a game they led from the start. Adding to the home team glory, FC Barcelona Lassa showcased their potential with a resounding win over French rivals Montpellier after hitting top gear with 10 minutes left in the first half, pulling away from the plucky visitors in their VELUX EHF Champions League Group B clash.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Rhein-Neckar Lowen (GER) 25:19 (11:10)


A spectacular Match of the Week between Vardar and Rhein-Neckar Lowen produced a memorable win for the Macedonian team, which ended the German side’s impressive unbeaten run in all competitions.


Both sides made a strong start, nosing ahead by the odd goal as Mensah Mads Larsen tormented Vardar with long-range shots while Serbian pivot Alem Toskic was clinical from the six-metre line at the other end.

 

Madsen and Toskic scored three goals each in the opening exchanges with the score tied at 5:5. Roared on by a 7,000 capacity crowd in the Jane Sandanski arena, Vardar then netted three without reply but resilient Rhein-Neckar Löwen quickly regained their composure and drew level with their own 3:0 run.

 

The contest turned into a bruising, physical battle as the rivals shored up the leaks in defence and stifled each other in attack. Vardar were able to take a one-goal half-time lead as Alex Dujshebaev and Timur Dibirov found their range.

 

They joined Toskic on three goals each for the home side in the opening half, while the relentless Mensah rifled in a staggering six from seven shots for the visitors.

 

The tit-for-tat battle continued after the break with Vardar carving out a 15:14 lead in the 37th minute when Dujshebaev unleashed a thunderbolt into the far corner.


The match remained in the balance with the score 17:16 to Vardar with 20 minutes left on the clock, after Igor Karacic pierced through RNL’s defence with a dazzling solo effort.


The home fans were in raptures after Dibirov netted a spectacular in-flight goal to give Vardar a two-goal lead as the home side sensed their opportunity to end Rhein-Neckar Lowen’s unbeaten run.


Goalkeepers at both ends were also in form and pulled of a string of superb saves, particularly Vardar’s second-choice Petar Angelov, who did a magnificent job standing in for Arpad Sterbik.

 

 

 

RNL’s Mikael Apelgren was just as outstanding, twice keeping out sitters to deny Vardar when they were 19:17 ahead. But the visitors just couldn’t find a way through and the home team finally restored their three-goal advantage when they took a 21:18 lead with five minutes left on the clock.


Having had a player suspended for two minutes, the writing was on the wall for Rhein-Neckar Lowen. Another venomous long-range effort by Dujshebaev gave Vardar a 23:18 lead shortly afterwards and the jubilant home fans treated their team to a standing ovation at the end of a riveting contest with the German league leaders.


The dazzling Dujshebaev led the home side with seven goals while Dibirov added six and Toskic chipped in with four.
Mensah finished with seven at the other end, having been contained in the second half after a rip-roaring opening period.

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 35:27 (20:12)

KS Vive Tauron Kielce celebrated a resounding win over Kristianstad. In a vastly entertaining VELUX EHF Champions League encounter, the home team enjoyed a strong start which left the visitors reeling and unable to catch up.

Rampant Kielce never looked back after racing into a 5:1 lead after a flurry of fast breaks which resulted from a series of turnovers by Kristianstad. The Scandinavian team were bereft of ideas in attack while lack of defensive discipline also cost them a succession of penalties.

Karol Bielecki was ruthlessly efficient from the penalty line while wingers Ivan Cupic and Tobias Reichmann exploited ample space on the flanks created by a quick transition of the ball.

Versatile Spanish pivot Julen Aguinagalde was also unstoppable, scoring five goals in the opening period as Kielce’s advantage soared to 15:6 on the 20-minute mark.

The visitors found some rhythm in attack in the last 10 minutes of the first half but the unrelenting home side held on comfortably to take a whopping eight-goal lead into the dressing room at halftime.

The early stages of the second half produced more one-way traffic as Kielce’s lead rocketed to double figures (25:15) in the 38th minute, with Cupic in devastating form on the left wing.

 

The home team’s deep roster fired on all cylinders and their unselfish work in attack allowed many different players to get on the score sheet.

Despite their insurmountable lead, Kielce kept going at full throttle, giving the visitors preciously little room to operate in attack.

Kristianstad refused to roll over, though, and worked hard to keep the deficit as respectable as possible with Anton Lindskog and Kristian Bjornsen showing occasional glimpses of flair to reduce the gap to 32:27 in the closing stages.

But Kielce’s passionate home fans were in full swing by then. The home side rewarded them with a quickfire three-goal blitz, sealing an important win to boost their confidence in a fiercely competitive group.

Aguinagalde led the home team’s charge with six goals each while Cupic, Bielecki and Reichmann added five each. Bjornsen scored six and Lindskog netted five for Kristianstad.

FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 37:27 (19:12)

It was Barcelona’s third successive win after their opening 22:21 defeat by Rhein-Neckar Löwen and showcased their potential to retain the title they won so emphatically last season.

The opening exchanges did not suggest a whitewash was on the cards as Montpellier held their own and were level 5:5 after the opening 10 minutes.

The Spanish giants then carved out an 11:7 lead but the French side slashed the lead to 12:10 after some sloppy defending by the reigning champions.

Only then did Barcelona start firing on all cylinders, romping to a 7:2 run in the last 10 minutes of the opening period as Macedonian right back Kiril Lazarov rifled in nine first-half goals for the home side.

Barcelona still could not take victory for granted as Montpellier came storming back after the interval, reducing the arrears to 22:17 in the 36th minute.

That prompted the home side to start firing on all cylinders again and they soon restored their seven-goal advantage (26:19).

It was clear there was no way back for the visitors after Barca roared ahead 30:22 with 13 minutes left but the French side refused to roll over and tried to keep the scoreline respectable.

Although success was assured, the home side kept their feet on the gas pedal in the closing stages and it was no surprise that the magnificent Lazarov finished with a game-high 12 goals from as many shots to his name.

Victor Tomas added five for Barcelona, while the battling Dragan Gajic scored eight from nine shots for Montpellier.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / ew / ec
 
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