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26.11.2017, 21:20
Defending champions and Löwen play nail-biting draw, Kristianstad defeat Szeged
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GROUP A REVIEW: Vardar extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches after a thrilling draw versus Löwen, while Kristianstad claim their first win against Szeged with the help of 12 goals from Lagergren
 

Defending champions and Löwen play nail-biting draw, Kristianstad defeat Szeged

Sunday was a night of last-second goals in Group A. Just like in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2016/17 Final, Ivan Cupic was the buzzer-beating hero for HC Vardar on Sunday. In contrast to the result of his goal against Paris, Cupic’s side did not win the trophy, but remained unbeaten thanks to the draw secured versus Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

In the other Group A match on Sunday night, 12 goals from right back Albin Lagergren and a last strike from playmaker Gunnar Stein Jonsson were decisive as IFK Kristianstad took their first win in eight Champions League matches against MOL-Pick Szeged.

Kristianstad were leading almost all the way, but Szeged kept threatening to come back, though the hosts ultimately claimed the two points.

• Rhein-Neckar Löwen record their fourth draw in the group phase
• Andy Schmid has a black day, with three goals from 11 attempts for Löwen
• HC Vardar’s Dainis Kristopans and Timur Dibirov (both with five goals) top score the match
• Sunday’s win is IFK Kristianstad’s first against MOL-Pick Szeged in history
• Albin Lagergren tallies 12 goals for Kristianstad, Zsolt Balogh seven for Szeged


GROUP A
Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 21:21 (11:11)

The German side were close to becoming the first to beat Vardar in any competition this season, but just before the final buzzer, former Löwen player Ivan Cupic ended those hopes and dreams, striking for 21:21.

“We knew playing in Rhein-Neckar is one of the toughest things that can happen. We are very satisfied with the draw – we never gave up and believed in ourselves,” said Vardar coach Raul Gonzalez.

Unbeaten in 14 matches

Thanks to the lucky goal, Vardar took a deserved draw and extended their series of unbeaten Champions League matches to 14.

The defending champions are now three points ahead of Nantes and four in front of Löwen prior to the last round to be played in 2017.

A neck-and-neck match

Löwen were close to avenging the 26:30 defeat last Saturday in Skopje, but some seconds were missing. The fact that neither of the teams could pull ahead by more than two goals throughout the whole match – the biggest gap was two, on four occasions – proves that both sides were fully equal.

RNLLowen-Vardar_Baena_565

Defence and goalkeeping headlined the top-level duel, in which Löwen seemed to be on the way to a win six minutes before the end, as they led 21:19. But then the hosts missed too many chances, while Joan Canellas and finally Cupic hit the net.

IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) 33:32 (16:13)

IFK Kristianstad boosted their chances of reaching the knock-out stage considerably when they earned their first win in eight Champions League matches against MOL-Pick Szeged.

“It was a good game with a lot of fight. We had a good first half of the match, with saves from the goalkeeper and many fast breaks. That is what we need when we face bigger teams. For us, tempo and speed are essential,” said Kristianstad coach Ola Lindgren.

“In the second half, we lost some energy and it was a difficult situation when we were two down, but we managed to find new power and get the match back with some margins on our side.”

Hosts lead the way

Kristianstad stunned Szeged from the start, leading 6:2, 7:3 and 8:4. Richard Kappelin was in great form in the Swedish team’s goal. In attack, right back Albin Lagergren fired on all cylinders, scoring eight goals in the first half alone and 12 in the match.

Szeged come back

Szeged worked themselves back into the game, and equalised at 9:9 with a good seven minutes left in the first half. But by half-time, Kristianstad had built up another three-goal lead.

Szeged fans 565

Jonsson the hero

Szeged caught up again in the second half, and the visitors were even leading by one goal more than once.

Kristianstad created a three-goal gap, but once again, Szeged bounced back before Kristianstad’s Icelandic playmaker Gunnar Stein Jonsson broke through and scored the winning goal.


TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / Peter Bruun / cg
 
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