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01.10.2017, 19:10
Vardar overpower Zagreb as Szeged sink IFK
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GROUP A REVIEW: European club champions Vardar overcame a poor start to beat regional rivals Zagreb, while Szeged and Barcelona both romped home over their opponents.

»EHF CL Channel »2017-18 Men's CL
»Group Phase
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Vardar overpower Zagreb as Szeged sink IFK

Vardar stretched their perfect start to three wins in as many games after fighting back from an early deficit to force Zagreb into submission in the Jane Sandanski Arena.

Szeged celebrated in somewhat contrasting fashion, having romped to a 12:3 lead in the opening stages to put the game beyond IFK Kristianstad’s reach before halftime. There was a similarly decisive win in Poland as FC Barcelona Lassa took control of the match to secure the only away win of the night's matches.

  • Vardar force Zagreb into submission as 12 players score
  • Richard Bodo shines for Szeged with eight goals
  • Barcelona take control with seven-goal win over Orlen Wisla Plock

GROUP A

HC Vardar (MKD) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 28:21 (13:10)

European club champions HC Vardar kept their perfect group stage record intact in this season’s VELUX EHF Champions League after overcoming a slow start in an emphatic win over regional rivals Zagreb on Sunday.

The visitors raced into a 3:0 lead in the Jane Sandanski Arena but the home side quickly turned the tide with a 7:1 run which gave them the lead for good in front of a passionate home crowd.

The opening half was a disjointed contest with plenty of rugged defending and fine goalkeeping at both ends, but Vardar never looked back after pulling away for a three-goal half-time lead.

Jorge Maqueda and Vuko Borozan pulled the strings for Vardar in attack and there was no way back for the visitors after winger Ivan Cupic made the score 16:10 early in the second half.

Zagreb fought as hard as they could to keep the deficit down but their left back Stipe Mandalinic, who stood out for the Croatian side with a game-high eight goals, had preciously little support from his team-mates.

Vardar’s stalwarts made way for second-string players in the closing stages and the latter took full advantage of their minutes on the court, allowing the home team to finish with 12 different scorers.

Borozan and Maqueda finished the game with four goals each for Vardar, while three players added three goals apiece to underline the Macedonian outfit’s balanced and potent roster.

Solid defence

Zagreb coach Kasim Kamenica said his side started as planned but found their attack was not good enough to break through Vardar's defence.

“To be honest, we arrived with no big expectations about the result, but determinated to give our best. At the end, their quality met our limits and once again I want to congratulate Vardar," he said.

Vardar coach Raul Gonzales said Zagreb's previous performances had made his team "slightly nervous". 

"The begining of the second half we were on fire and managed to extend our lead to four or five goals, which gave us the confidence to finish this game comfortably," he said. "I’m always happy to win EHF Champions League games against Zagreb, a team with such big reputation and an admirable mix of experienced and young players."

 

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 36:27 (20:11)

Szeged made sure there was going to be no upset in Hungary after an awe-inspiring 9:1 run in the opening stages turned the home team’s slender 3:2 advantage into a whopping 12:3 lead against the bedazzled visitors from Sweden.

Kristianstad regained their composure at that point and started fighting back, but the gap was just too big and Szeged eventually ran out easy winners as their sharpshooter Richard Bodo shone with eight goals from as many shots.

IFK were bereft of ideas in attack early on and it cost them dearly, but it was their porous defence that ultimately denied them a chance to come away with something from Szeged, as they kept conceding soft goals from all angles throughout the contest.

The closest IFK came to forcing a twist was when they closed the gap to 28:23 midway through the second half, but the home side moved up a gear and pulled away with three unanswered goals.

Bence Banhidi netted five goals for Szeged as Jonas Kallman and Zsolt Balogh chipped in with three each, while Victor Hallen led IFK with six goals and Olafur Gudmundsson added five.

Discipline proves key

Szeged head coach Juan Carlos Pastor praised both players and fans for the game and the atmosphere.

"We started very well, were able to steal a lot of balls and played with discipline," he said. "It is difficult to play in the same rhythm for both halves, especially against such a good team, with a Scandinavian mentality, who fights from the first minute to the last."

Kristianstad left wing Viktor Hallen said: "Szeged were running a lot, played patiently in attack, and scored a lot. It may have been better if I shot less in attack, and concentrated more on defence, and we could have won."

 

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 30:37 (13:21)

Former European club champions Barcelona rekindled past glory after a vintage performance gave them an impressive win at Polish rivals Orlen Wisla Plock on Sunday. The Spansh side, who have won the Champions League a record eight times, overcame early jitters to carve out an unassailable eight-goal lead at halftime.

Wisla started well and led 5:4 before the visitors, who were again spearheaded by the irrepressible winger Valero Rivera, swung the match with a barrage of easy goals resulting from strong defence.

Rivera netted five goals in the opening half, while Dika Mem and Wael Jallouz added four each as Wisla struggled to match Barcelona’s pace and creativity in attack.

The home side kept giving the ball away at the other end and were powerless to stop a flurry of fast breaks, which Barcelona exploited ruthlessly with no less than 10 visiting players scoring in an action-packed first half.

Barcelona romp home

The second period brought more of the same as Barcelona romped into a staggering 26:15 lead, with Polish pivot Kamil Syprzak causing the home side all sorts of problems on the six-metre line.

With the home fans still roaring them on, Wisla fought as hard as they could to keep the scoreline respectable, but the relentless visitors kept their feet on the gas pedal and made sure their lead remained firmly in double digits (31:19).

The home side still refused to roll over and slashed the deficit to seven goals (29:36) in the closing stages, as Barcelona went through the motions in the last few minutes.

Jallouz led a pack of 13 Barcelona scores with six goals from as many shots, Rivera and Mem finished with five each while Syprzak and Raul Entrerios added four apiece. Gilberto Dante and Valentin Ghionea led Wisla with four goals each, as five of their team mates netted three apiece.

Plock line player Igor Zabic said his team made too many easy mistakes.

"Against such a team as Barcelona, it has to end badly for us. Having eight goals less that Barcelona after the first half it was very hard to get back to the game," Zabic said. "We improved some things, but it was too late to turn things around."

Syprzak praised the atmosphere and the fans' support.

"I am very glad, that one more time I had a chance to play here in ORLEN Arena in front of this amazing audience," he said. "We are satisfied with the victory and how we played today. Our job is to continue this way of playing in forthcoming games."


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic/jh
 
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