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17.09.2017, 22:06
Vardar and Nantes enjoy positive start to season
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GROUP A REVIEW: HC Vardar started their VELUX EHF Champions League season with a victory in Plock, while Nantes beat Szeged in France.
 

Vardar and Nantes enjoy positive start to season

The reigning VELUX EHF Champions League champions HC Vardar earned a hard-fought victory in Poland which finished 26:22, while France’s HBC Nantes upset MOL-Pick Szeged, defeating them 30:26.

  • Vardar extended their winning run in the VELUX Champions League from last season to six matches.
  • Nantes secured a win in their 15th match in the European top-flight competition.
  • Top-scorers were Dominik Klein with six for Vardar, and Michal Daszek with six for Plock.

GROUP A

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 22:26 (9:13)

Being the current title holder can be quite challenging, as every opponent has extra motivation to beat you. However, Vardar withstood the pressure in Plock and beat the Polish runner-up in their opening group match.

The Macedonian side kept their winning squad together over the summer, and signed the 215-cm right back Dainis Kristopans from HC Meshkov Brest. It was this Latvian giant who scored Vardar’s opening goal of their campaign, and he added three more to his tally over the course of the match.

The left back Vuko Borozan also did well, and Vardar had the upper hand throughout the first half. Although Plock sometimes came very close - as they did when it was 8:7 after 20 minutes - the visitors felt quite comfortable at the break, as they were up 13:9.

Vardar’s mistakes and complacency just after the break were capitalised on by the well-defending Polish team, who drew level following a five-minute 4:0 run.

After this, Kristopans finally scored Vardar’s first goal in the second half, and slowly but surely, the visitors reasserted their superiority. Late in the game, class and experience helped the Macedonian team to avoid panic and seal their victory.

Vardar's Ivan Cupic thought that his teams experience was important in the match:

"We controlled the first half. We played good in defence and attack. Wisla had their chance after the break, when they score 4 goals in row. In the end we showed our experience, players from the bench did their best and we won this game."

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) 30:26 (18:15)

The French side, who reached the Last 16 in their debut VELUX Champions League campaign last season, proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.

A home victory against Szeged is a sign that Nantes are going to be comfortable in the company of European heavyweights in Group A.

If the more experienced Szeged had planned to shock the hosts early in the game, they managed to do it, as they were up 3:0 after two minutes. However, Nantes quickly improved their game and started to catch up. Midway through the half, the visitors drew level at 9:9, and thanks to their 82% shot efficiency, the French team led by three goals at half-time.

Nantes’ star newcomer Kiril Lazarov, who arrived from Barcelona in summer, did not have much impact as he scored just two goals. It was mainly players who stayed from the last season that propelled the hosts to victory.

Dominik Klein, starting his second season at Nantes, was particularly good as the German left wing scored six times with a 100% shot efficiency.

Szeged desperately tried to turn things around, yet Nantes held their nerve and ultimately won, making their loud home crowd happy.

Nantes' Rock Feliho was delighted to win the first game of the season:

"We were very excited for our first match at home. It was difficult, intense, and against a good team. Szeged were very good during the first 10 minutes, but we didn’t panic and managed to come back. We’re very happy to win this first game.”


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/kc
 
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