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21.02.2016, 18:05
Veszprém overpower Zagreb to stay in the hunt
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GROUP A MATCH REVIEW: Hungarian giants MVM Veszprém remain in contention for the section’s top spot after a hard-fought match against Croatian champions HC PPD Zagreb
 

Veszprém overpower Zagreb to stay in the hunt

MVM Veszprém kept up the pressure on SG Flensburg-Handewitt and Paris Saint-Germain, after a dramatic home victory against battling HC PPD Zagreb kept them in third place, one point behind the section’s front-runners.

GROUP A

MVM Veszprém (HUN) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 27:25 (16:12)

Veszprém celebrated a precious win against Zagreb after repelling a spirited fight-back by the Croatian side, who came close to snatching a draw on one of the most intimidating courts in Europe.

The result left the Hungarian outfit third in Group A, one point behind leaders Flensburg and second-placed Paris Saint-German, with a realistic chance of claiming the top spot and hence an automatic quarter-final berth.

The opening quarter of the game produced one-way traffic as Veszprém raced into a 12:5 lead, carried by flawless shooting from their Croatian guard Ivan Sliskovic and superb goalkeeping by his compatriot between the posts, Mirko Alilovic.

The tide turned, however, as the visitors refused to roll over and started to catch up, reducing the deficit to four goals by half-time.

Coach of Veszprém, Xavi Sabate, spoke: "We expected this kind of match. Our defence was good in the first 25 minutes and we could score fast break goals from stolen balls.

Zagreb made the second half tight, we made several mistakes in offence and they could run. They had the chance to take away points from here but at the end we had luck and we were good at important moments and got these very important points."

The opening period produced a physical contest littered with fouls and two-minute exclusions, while Veszprém’s Christian Zeitz and Zagreb’s Domagoj Pavlovic limped off with injuries and were unable to carry on.    

The visitors trailed 17:15 when their defensive specialist Tonci Valcic received a straight red card for a flagrant foul, but that did not deter Zagreb in their quest to turn the match on its head.

 

 

With Veszprém struggling in attack, their reserve goalkeeper Roland Mikler kept them in front after replacing Alilovic, who fizzed out and conceded a flurry of easy goals.

Filip Ivic also stood out at the other end and goals were hard to come by in the second period, but Veszprém appeared to have sealed their victory after carving out a 20:16 advantage.

Zagreb roared back once again and closed in thanks to a flurry of fast breaks, heading into the final minute only one goal down, 26:25.

From Zagreb, Stipe Mandalinic said after the match: "In the first half our defense was not so effective but in the second half we could improve, it was the key of this tight game."

Ivic made a double save in Veszprém’s last possession but the visitors gave away a seven-metre penalty shot, which Ilic converted with 10 second left to put the outcome beyond doubt.

The effervescent Sliskovic led Veszprém with seven goals from eight shots, while Ilic and Laszlo Nagy added six each.

Leon Susnja, Zlatko Horvat and Dobrivoje Markovic netted four apiece for Zagreb, who stayed fifth, one point ahead of sixth-placed Orlen Wisla Plock.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / ec
 
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