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17.10.2015, 20:00
Buzzer beater Noddesbo gives Barcelona a draw against Kielce
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GROUP B REVIEW: Defending champions Barcelona get a last-minute draw at Kielce, Montpellier win a gritty battle against IFK Kristianstad, and Rhein-Neckar Löwen defeat Szeged.
 

Buzzer beater Noddesbo gives Barcelona a draw against Kielce

VELUX EHF Champions League holders FC Barcelona Lassa clawed out a draw from the jaws of defeat after a last-gasp goal by Danish line player Jesper Noddesbo gave them a point in a heart-stopping draw at Polish champions Kielce.

Rhein-Neckar Löwen made a big step toward finishing among the best four teams in Group B with a decisive win against MOL-Pick Szeged in Round 5 of the VELUX EHF Champions League on Saturday. 

Their motor seemed stuck most of the first half, but the German side improved after the break to remain unbeaten on home ground as well as taking clear revenge for the two defeats against Szeged in the 2014/15 Last 16 duels.

In Montpellier, a game of two very different halves was decided by the home side’s Slovenian right side of the court, where Jure Dolenec and Dragan Gajic found the key to open Kristianstad’s defense and ran riot in the dying minutes of the game.

Montpellier earned a 30:26 win and are now tied for the fifth place in the group with Szeged, while Kristianstad falls into seventh place with two points.

GROUP B

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 30:30 (14:17)

Having overturned Barcelona’s first-half lead, Kielce were on the verge of what would have been a memorable win but threw away a two-goal lead in the closing stages of a rip-roaring contest.

“In the first half Barcelona led the rhythm of the game,” coach Xavi Pascual said. “In the second Kielce were on top. The whole game was equal, so the draw is fair.”

Led by the season’s top scorer Kiril Lazarov, Barcelona dictated the pace in the first half and held the upper hand thanks to a fairly constant three-goal lead.

The visitors benefited from a flurry of fast breaks and a quick transition from defence to attack, as Kielce struggled to adapt to the Spanish side’s high-tempo game at both ends of the court.

However, the tide turned in the second half as a frenetic home crowd got behind Kielce in full force and the home side turned a 22:24 deficit into a 30:28 lead with only a minute left on the clock.

But Barcelona then drew on the vast experience to avoid a second group phase defeat after suffering a 22:21 setback in the opening round against Rhein-Neckar Lowen.

Having thrown away possession when they were 30:29 ahead, Kielce allowed a long cross-court pass to reach Noddesbo on the six-metre line giving the Dane, who played a cameo part, a simple task of netting his solitary goal of the contest to silence the vociferous home fans.

“We got that two-goal advantage so I shouldn’t be happy. But nevertheless I'm happy that we draw with Barcelona, the best team in Europe and the world,” Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev said. “It’s for us as a lesson for the future, what to do in the last seconds.”

The effervescent Michal Jurecki, who tormented Barcelona throughout, was the game’s top performer with seven goals from 10 shots, while Lazarov netted as many from 16 attempts at the other end.

Iconic Spanish pivot Julen Aguinagalde chipped in with four goals out of four shots for Kielce and livewire German winger Tobias Reichmann netted five from five, while Frenchman Cedric Soraindho and playmaker Raul Entrerrios chipped in with four each for Barcelona.

Heralded as the strong favourites to defend their title, Barcelona will undoubtedly look back at their second patchy group stage performance and return to the drawing board in order to keep their bar high. Sifting through the errors will be seen as a requirement and not an option by their staff, ahead of the remainder of what is shaping up to be a rollercoaster Champions League campaign.

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 30:26 (13:14)

While Montpellier are aiming for a repeat of the 2014/15 season’s Last 16 berth, Kristianstad have been pushing their limits on their maiden presence in the VELUX EHF Champions League. 

As both teams had two points after their first four games, Montpellier was hardly satisfied with their achievements so far and treated the game against the Swedish side as a pivotal one. 

But it was not a walk in the park for the French side, who managed to increase their lead to two goals only after the 35th minute.

As the plucky Swedish side enjoyed a great start thanks to three consecutive goals scored by youngster Jerry Tollbring, Montpellier were left behind and trailed 11:8 in the 20th minute.

But even perfect games from Kristian Björnsen and Frederic Pettersson were not enough for Kristianstad to win their second game in this year’s competition.

While the guests maintained their efficiency in the second half, Montpellier brought in a more aggressive defensive system and turned the game on its head in the first ten minutes of the period.

Montpellier_465

A 7:3 partial score, spurred by Montpellier’s top goal scorers, Dolenec (eight goals) and Diego Simonet (four goals each) was enough for the French side to pull ahead to a comfortable lead. 

The Swedish side came back to 24:23 with nine minutes to go, but failed to capitalise on the momentum, leaving their hosts to win their second game of the season.

Rhein Neckar Löwen (GER) vs MOL Pick Szeged (HUN) 30:25 (13:13)

In contrast to the Vardar duel, Löwen had their top stars on court. But even Andy Schmid, Uwe Gensheimer & Co. did not have the means to cast off fighting Szeged in what was Saturday’s second German-Hungarian encounter. 

“I am very satisfied only with the second half, as I was disappointed with the first half. I was really angry that we missed so many chances before the break. In the end, the win was wel-deserved,” said Löwen coach Nicolaj Jacobsen, while Gensheimer added: 

“We are proud to have won against this clever team, but it took some time. The number of mistakes and turnover was too high in the first half.”

Pick found gaps in the weak Löwen defence easily in the first 30 minutes, while the hosts caused too many easy mistakes in attack. 

Though Schmid put on another top-level performance, earning the top scorer title with seven goals, ahead of Gensheimer and Reinkind (each six), his teammates lacked efficiency in attack. 

In defence Löwen could not stop Zsolt Balogh and Ferenc Ilyes, who both scored from almost every attempt in the first half.

The tied half-time result was well-deserved, but then it took the hosts only nine minutes to create a comfortable cushion with a 6:2 series that led to a Szeged timeout midway through the half. 

Löwen put more pressure on the Hungarian strikers and goalkeeper Mikael Appelgren improved, the deal was sealed and the German side added another to their recent string of victories against Spanish coached. 

In the end, counter attacks were the key to Löwen’s success, while Pick could not continue the way they had played in the first half. 

Despite reducing the gap to an intermediate result of 27:25, Szeged could not endanger Löwen anymore. 

The top scorers for the visitors were Balogh and Dean Bombac with five goals each.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / Adrien Costeiu / Björn Pazen / cg / ts
 
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