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24.11.2018, 16:40
Late comeback saves Vardar a point; Barça unstoppable in Kielce
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GROUP A REVIEW: Meshkov Brest look on their way to victory before Vardar clinch a last-gasp draw, while Barça and Kielce pummel the goals in a high-scoring encounter that ends with victory for the Spanish side
 

Late comeback saves Vardar a point; Barça unstoppable in Kielce

A great start with four wins on the trot, after a flurry of injuries and players leaving this summer saw their roster depleted, was not enough for HC Vardar to retain their role as a contender in the VELUX EHF Champions League. The Macedonian side’s woes were there on display once again in Brest on Saturday afternoon, as Vardar almost crumbled to their fourth loss in the last five games – but scraped a draw, 31:31, with a Christian Dissinger goal with seven seconds to spare.

In the second Group A game of the day, there was no stopping either Kielce or Barça Lassa’s attack, as the two teams combined for 78 goals – a record for the Polish side in the VELUX EHF Champions League. The result saw the Spanish visitors earn their eighth win in a row and opened a four-point gap in their favour at the top of the group.

• Dainis Kristopans top scores for Vardar, with eight goals, while Darko Djukic scores seven times for Brest in a thrilling draw
• The Belarusian side are now only one point ahead of Montpellier and Kristianstad, in sixth place
• Gilberto Brito and Casper Mortensen each score nine times as Barça defeat Kielce in Poland
• Barça can extend their streak to nine wins if they beat Brest in Spain next week


GROUP A
HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 31:31 (14:13)

In the era of globalisation, it is not hard to envisage a battle between a Belarusian side and a Macedonian powerhouse, each coached by a Spanish mastermind. That was exactly the scenario in Brest, with a defence-first approach from both sides that saw six turnovers in the first 10 minutes, as the hosts took a slim 5:3 lead.

Desperately trying to end their six-game skid, the Belarusian champions’ lead was kept intact mainly thanks to backs Alexsander Shkurinskiy and Sandro Obranovic. Five goals from the tallest player of the competition, 2.15m Latvian Dainis Kristopans, took Vardar to the lead for the first time, 13:12. However, a 2:0 run to end the first half saw the hosts back in front at the break.

Vardar found themselves in real trouble when Brest enjoyed a 4:1 start to the second half, as the guests edged closer to their fourth loss in five games. The Macedonian side came within one, 20:19, but a red card for line player Gleb Kalarash meant the guests lost an important player in their defence, allowing Brest to jump to a 25:20 lead that looked unassailable.

Vardar came back, cutting the lead to 29:28 with five minutes to go, only for Brest to maintain their rhythm and lead until the dying seconds. But finally, it was Dissinger, the German right back signed in October, who dealt the final blow for Vardar to collect a hard-earned point.

"It was a very good match. We dominated 50 minutes, but after, we played uncollected and missed the victory. One point is not what we expected today," said Meshkov coach Manolo Cadenas.

PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs Barça Lassa (ESP) 36:42 (15:18)

It looks like, at least momentarily, there is nobody and nothing that can stop Barça Lassa from bulldozing their way to the top of Group A. In what should have been a tight encounter between the top two teams in the group, the Spanish side found themselves behind only in the first 10 minutes of the game, before a 6:0 run turned the game on its head.

It all started with the visitors’ defence and goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas’ saves, but Barça’s wings, Casper Mortensen and Victor Tomas, made all the difference in attack, as the Spanish side turned a 7:6 deficit into a 12:7 lead.

The attacking powerhouse never stopped and Barça were in a comfortable position, taking a 18:15 advantage into the break and counting seven more attacks than their opponents after 30 minutes, but a lower shooting efficiency. However, in the second half, a new-look Kielce – a lot more determined and focused – meant that this was not the walk in the park Barça were counting on. The Polish side cut the gap to only one goal, 25:24, with 21 minutes to go.

However, another attacking masterclass from the Spanish side saw them extend their winning streak to eight games, after everything clicked in their offence and Kielce’s defence proved simply unable to cope with the sheer strength.

"For me, Barça, Szeged and PSG are the three best teams currently. I think Barcelona is two years ahead of us in case of building the team. Let’s see how we will look like in two years. I’m not satisfied with the score but satisfied with the attitude of my players," said Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev. "We wanted to keep the rhythm of Barca, but we didn’t manage."

The win was the second of the season for the Spanish side with 42 goals scored, while Kielce beat their record for highest number of goals in a game scored by both teams by one.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / cg
 
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