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23.10.2016, 19:29
Roaring Lions devour Kielce, as Szeged edge Brest
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GROUP B REVIEW: German title holders, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, celebrated an emphatic win at VELUX EHF Champions League holders, KS Vive Tauron Kielce, while MOL-Pick Szeged were made to work hard for a tight win at home over Meshkov Brest.
 

Roaring Lions devour Kielce, as Szeged edge Brest

The Rhein-Neckar Löwen stunned the European club champions with a magnificent performance, which gave them a resounding 34:26 win on one of the most intimidating away courts in Europe.

In Hungary, Szeged had to dig deep in order to overcome a spirited challenge by Meshkov Brest and prevailed in a dramatic finish, thanks to their top scorer, Zsolt Balogh.

  • Kielce suffered their first defeat in Europe since winning the title
  • Karol Bielecki was a lone beacon of light for the home side
  • Rhein-Neckar Löwen produced their season’s best performance
  • Szeged made it five wins out of five against battling Meshkov
  • Zsolt Balogh excelled with nine goals for the Hungarian side

GROUP B

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) 24:22, 11:10

Szeged, who were missing Russian left back Sergey Gorbok due to injury, were never able to shake their opponents off in the Varosi Sportsarnok on Sunday afternoon.

A clever and brilliantly fighting Belarusian team managed to keep the match close almost all the way and the matter was not decided until one minute and 20 seconds before the buzzer, as Marin Sego performed the deciding save in Szeged’s goal.

Equal and low-scoring first half

The first half became an equal and low-scoring affair – not as much due to the skills of the goalkeepers, but more because of lack of accuracy in the attacks.

Brest managed to keep the game even until 6:6 after 17 minutes and even though Szeged got four goals to move ahead at 10:6, the visitors got back to only being one goal behind at half time, after Zsolt Balogh missed a penalty for Szeged on the buzzer.

Close finish

Apart from the missed penalty, Balogh made quite the impact on the match and became the top scorer with nine goals.

In the second half, he was considerably reliable on the penalties and made his crucial contribution to help Szeged stay ahead and even though Brest managed to equalise three times in the second half, Szeged kept a cool head at the end.

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 26:34, 15:16

Every winning streak comes to an end, as KS Vive Tauron Kielce duly found out, having suffered a crushing home defeat by a rejuvenated Rhein-Neckar Löwen squad, who outclassed the reigning European champions in every department.

The German champions, who had produced patchy performances in their opening four games, fired on all cylinders this time as their unstoppable attack ripped the Polish side to shreds and silenced a fervent home crowd.

The outcome gave the Rhein-Neckar Löwen the edge in their head-to-head record against Kielce, as the sides were deadlocked on three wins each and three draws in their nine previous encounters.

Lone ranger Bielecki

Free-flowing ball movement in attack, compounded by incisive passing from Andy Schmid, seemed to bedazzle Kielce, who could not keep up with Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s pace and intensity in attack.

The home side were constantly on the back foot and had it not been for a heroic solo effort by their evergreen veteran, Karol Bielecki, who rifled in seven first half goals, the visitors would have taken a bigger lead into the dressing room at the interval.

The one-goal deficit flattered Kielce, as Mads Mensah Larsen drilled in five long-range thunderbolts, while nimble Spanish pivot Rafael Gonazles Baena used his athleticism to devastating effect.

Floodgates opened  

Any hopes Kielce might have had of forcing a twist in front of their frenetic fans were dashed early in the second half. The visitors produced a 7:2 run in the opening 10 minutes of the second period, effectively ending the home team’s resistance, as Bielecki started running out of steam, while the support cast looked bereft of ideas and will-power to fight back.

The floodgates opened at the other end as the lethal trio of Schmid, Larsen and Baena continued to torment Kielce’s goalkeeper, Filip Ivic, with Macedonian winger Dejan Manaskov joining the scoring party.

The home crowd went completely silent when the German side took a massive 31:21 lead with seven minutes left, ensuring they left Kielce celebrating a memorable and morale-boosting victory.

The brilliant Baena, a constant menace on the six-metre line, topped Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s scoring chart with seven goals, Schmid added six and Larsen chipped in with five.

Bielecki stood out with eight for Kielce, but scored only one in the second half, while line player Juan Aguinagalde netted five.


TEXT: Peter Bruun/Zoran Milosavljevic/tm
 
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