Russian champions were close to their first ever victory over HSV, but had to settle for only one point.
Medvedi still without win against Hamburg
Although Hamburg had to settle for a 27:27 draw in their home debut in the VELUX EHF Champions League, they could still be satisfied with their performance. The game against Chekhovskie Medvedi was their third in six days, and the long trips to León and Gummersbach had definitely taken their toll.
"That's not an apology: But all players were very tired," said goalkeeper Dan Beutler. "But the last 20 minutes spell in the first half was an outstanding performance."
Instead of the O2 World arena, HSV played in the Sporthalle Hamburg. "There weren´t so many spectators there, but those who were there helped make a special atmosphere," added Beutler.
This was especially so during a phase when Hamburg went from being 5:8 down to lead 15:11. In the second half the Russians edged in front and thought they had victory in their grasp, but shortly before the end Marcin Lijewski scored the 27:27 for Hamburg. Beutler pulled off a crucial late save on Sergei Gorbok and reverted the first defeat of HSV in a head-to-head statistics with "Bears" from Russia. Hamburg won four matches, other three ended in draws.
"This game could’ve gone either way," said left back Gorbok. "Ultimately, I'm happy with a point in Hamburg. Our group is very difficult. In Hamburg, Flensburg, Montpellier and us I see four teams which can take first place."
When Chekhovskie Medvedi played in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2010, the back court ace was only a spectator in Cologne, but since then he has dreamed of playing there himself. He switched from Rhein-Neckar Löwen to Chekhovskie, but ironically only to see his former club making it through from the Wild Card Tournament to the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Chekhovskie Medvedi were knocked out in the Quarter-final by Hamburg in that season and finished only fifth in the group in the previous edition. “Fifth place is certainly not our goal this time,” Gorbok added.
Dan Beutler also spoke about great plans: "We want to stay in the Champions League as long as possible. If all the injured players are back, we will be strong and powerful."
TEXT: Jan Kirschner