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10.11.2018, 21:50
Fierce defence brings Zagreb vital win in fiery clash
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MOTW REVIEW: PPD Zagreb earned the second win of the season, 24:22, after a crucial defensive performance against Celje
 

Fierce defence brings Zagreb vital win in fiery clash

One can hardly find a clash between two sides in the VELUX EHF Champions League with so much history behind it, a true classic that withstood the test of time. Despite this match not being a fight for the top place in Group B, the game had a huge meaning for the rankings, with Celje holding sixth place, only one point ahead of Zagreb, ahead of the tie.

Zagreb's win means they leapfrog Celje in the rankings, but the two sides will face each other again next week in Slovenia.

  • This was Zagreb's first home win this season, after losses to PSG and Szeged
  • Zlatko Horvat was named Player of MOTW, presented by Gorenje
  • Horvat’s six goals made him Zagreb’s top scorer
  • Montenegrin back Branko Vujovic scored five times for Celje

GROUP B

MOTW: HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) 24:22 (11:9)

By far the team with the least number of goals scored in the group, Zagreb and Celje produced once again a cagey game, a game for the handball purists, where defences and goalkeepers were the most important pieces on the table.

A lifeless Celje attack that missed six shots in the first 11 minutes, including a penalty by French back William Accambray, saw themselves in a 6:2 hole, as Zagreb controlled the game with their young Slovenian goalkeeper Urh Kastelic frustrating the guests.

As Celje started to come back to life, Zagreb managed to keep their opponents at arm’s length, boasting the same four-goal lead after 27 minutes.

Zagreb coach Lino Cervar acknowledged how much the match meant to both sides.

"Tough game, it was from the very first moment crystal clear how much this one means for both teams," he said. "We started the match off well, aggressive in defence, and I’d say we were really in control of the encounter in that period. Unfortunately, as the half was coming to a close we slowed down, lost focus in a few situations, allowing the guests to narrow the gap."

The Slovenian side cut the gap at half-time to only two goals, 11:9, but it was still Zagreb who was calling the shots, with a superb start to the second half from Zlatko Horvat.

The 34-year old veteran had a vintage performance, scoring six times in the second half to help Zagreb maintain the lead. His performance meant he was named as the Player of MOTW, with the award handed over by Gorenje Zagreb key account manager Bruno Setic.

Yet Celje goalkeeper Aljaz Panjtar worked wonders between the posts, while back Branko Vujovic scored goal after goal to cut the lead to only one goal, 20:19, with seven minutes to go.

But Celje’s comeback failed to materialise and Zagreb kept the attacks just long enough to squeeze out the time. The hosts ultimately took their first win of the season on home court, 24:22.

Celje coach Tomasz Ocvirk said the outcome could have been different had his men taken more chances.

"Our offence was way too static, we simply didn’t have an answer for their aggressive defence," he said. "In the second half our defence was better, attack as well, but we missed way too many clear chances to come out victorious in the end."

Zagreb are now sixth in the group, with five points, leapfrogging Celje in seventh with four points, before the crucial tie between these two sides that will take place in Slovenia next week.

 

 


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu/jh
 
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