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29.11.2017, 21:50
Zagreb Lions overcome Löwen to snatch first win this season
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GROUP A MATCH REVIEW: With this win, Zagreb can still keep their Last 16 hopes alive. Löwen needed a draw to confirm their Last 16 ticket but with this loss, they need to wait.
 

Zagreb Lions overcome Löwen to snatch first win this season

It took Zagreb ten rounds to win their first match in this years edition of VELUX EHF Champions League and they did it in style by beating current Bundesliga champions Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

•    Zagreb win for the first time in this VELUX EHF Champions League season after ten rounds
•    Great opening of both first and second half from Zagreb
•    Rhein-Neckar Löwen hasn’t won a match since Round 6 when they beat MOL-Pick Szeged

GROUP A

HC Prvo plinarsko društvo Zagreb (CRO) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 30:26 (17:13)

Unlike last few matches, Zagreb were off to a good start against German champions. After just seven minutes Leon Susnja netted the third goal in a row for Zagreb which put them in front with two goals.

Zagreb Lions played very aggressively in defence while the attack was fluent and well organised by experienced Josip Valcic.

Nicolaj Jacobsen called a time-out after 12 minutes because he felt his team is not performing as they should. 

After the time-out Mario Vuglac and Damir Bicanic scored three goals in a row, Matevz Skok saved two shots and after 16 minutes Zagreb was leading with five goals (10:5).

Harald Reinkind ended Löwen’s draught after five minutes. However, it took them seven minutes to reduce the gap.

When Andy Schmid scored a 10th goal for Mannheim Lions, Zlatko Saracevic asked for a one-minute break.

Zagreb’s pace dropped but with fresh faces like Matej Hrstic, Tin Lucin, Zarko Markovic and Urh Kastelic they were back on track and leading by four after Zlatko Horvat scored his fourth goal (17:13).

Rock-solid defence and Kastelic on fire

Five minutes into second half Zagreb scored four in a row which gave them a seven-goal cushion at the very beginning of the next 30 minutes.

Jacobsen desperately needed to wake up his team but did not manage to do that at time-out.

Tin Kontrec scored from the fast break which made Arena Zagreb erupt since Zagreb was leading with huge nine goals (24:15).

Löwen was trying to get back into the game and they did through Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson who scored three consecutive goals (27:22).

Even though they were visibly tired Zagreb managed to finish the game with a four-goal lead (30:26) and snatch first win.

Zlatko Saracevic is apparently expert for German teams since he already beat Kiel in Arena Zagreb three years ago when he replaced Veselin Vujovic who watched the match from the stands.

“We played a match for 45 minutes in which we did exactly what I asked”, started Saracevic and continued: “In last 15 minutes, we didn’t perform at the level we wanted and I can’t say what is the reason for that but I have to find out.

"Maybe it’s energy or a psychological problem, I don’t know exactly what but we need to work on it.

“We also need to continue to play like this. This shouldn’t be one time only; I want this to become constant.”

Nikolaj Jacobsen head coach of Rhein-Neckar Löwen felt his team was not up to speed - especially in defence:

“Zagreb deserved to win today because they were a better team today. In the first half, our defence and goalkeepers couldn’t keep up with Zagreb’s tempo.

We had some good attacks but also were finishing some of them too quickly which put us five, six goals behind in just a few minutes.

"Zagreb were much better team today in attack and defence.”


TEXT: Jelena Bagarić / bc
 
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