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11.11.2015, 21:21
Lucky Flensburg extend their winning streak
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GROUP A REVIEW: Flensburg took their fourth straight win in the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase - but were extremely lucky with a 28:27 victory over Zagreb. The Croatian team was close to take at least a draw in the opener of Round 7 on Wednesday.
 

Lucky Flensburg extend their winning streak

At least for one night SG Flensburg-Handewitt, the 2014 VELUX EHF Champions League winner, will remain on the second position of Group A following their narrow 28:27 victory over HC PPD Zagreb.

The Croatian team fought until the final whistle and had clearly improved from their disappointing defeat at Istanbul.

“We have not played stable and precise enough so we are highly lucky with those two points,” Flensburg’s top scorer Kentin Mahe said to TV station Sky.

His coach Ljubomir Vranjes added: “It is really hard to play against Zagreb’s great defence but we also had too many easy mistakes. Kentin was a key to the victory.”

GROUP A:
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 28:27 (12:13)

To resign for one day after the defeat at Besiktas was definitely Veselin Vujovic’s wake-up call for the young Zagreb players.

Only five days, after Vujovic and the Slovenian national team had left the Flensarena victorious in a test match against Serbia, Zagreb showed an extremely clever, focussed and passionate performance at the same place.

The 13:12 half-time lead was contributed mainly by one player: Domagoj Pavlovic, who scored the first five goals for the visitors from five attempts to give them a sensational 5:1 lead. He finally became top scorer with nine strikes. Besides - and as usual - the defence of the Croatian record champions was impressive.

Flensburg had extreme problems to find their rhythm in attack and could not stop Pavlovic and later Luka Stepancic. Even a timeout of Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes at 4:6 did not have an immediate effect, though French left back Kentin Mahe took the responsibility scoring five times before the break, finishing on eight.

After Zagreb’s 14:12 lead, everything changed in the next crucial minutes. The 2014 Champions League winners understood the words of their coach in the dressing room. Flensburg played much more focused in attack, putting enormous pressure on Zagreb’s defence and causing turnovers.

Thanks to a 6:1 series Flensburg’s counter attack experts and Mahe build the base (18:15) for the later-on lucky win.

Zagreb needed much more energy to score than before the break - but showed their typical moral and fighting spirit, reducing the gap again to 22:23 with just eight minutes to go and having the great chance to equalize for 25:25 - but they missed it in minute 56.

Vujovic forced his team to defend in an extreme offensive way. But then the big shock: 150 seconds before the end, Stepancic, who had recovered from a severe injury just some weeks ago, twisted his knee and had to be treated on a stretcher while having extreme pain.

Half a minute before the end, Vranjes took his final timeout as his team was ahead by 27:26 - and finally it was a Croat, who beat the Croats: new arrival Kresimir Kozina with his one and only goal for 28:27.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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