Three more teams remain unbeaten after four rounds
Despite the tie of SG Flensburg-Handewitt at Ademar Leon a unbeaten German duo is still in lead of group A, as HSV Hamburg took a victory against Partizan. Kielce kept their clear spot at Chambery, increasing the negative series of the host to four defeats in four matches of the VELUX EHF Champions League.
HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. Partizan Belgrade (SRB) 30:24 (17:13)
Partizan continued on the high level they had played their first three matches, but in the end the Serbian champions were chanceless in Hamburg. HSV remain unbeaten and top the table with seven points, as Belgrade are still one point ahead of Montpellier.
Hamburg defied the long list of injured players (Lijewski, Bitter, Hens, Lackovic, Jansen, Carlen), but had to break tough resistance until a clear lead was confirmed.
“Due to those injuries we needed to build the base in defence, as we knew that in attack we could not rotate that much. And I am really pleased of the way we defended today,” HSV coach Martin Schwalb said, and added: “Sometimes we stood ourselves in the way in attack due to some easy mistakes, but the fighting spirit and the will to win were the keys to success.”
On the other hand Partizan coach Alexander Brkovic was unsatisfied: “We can play better than we have shown today, as our defence played far beyond their usual level.” Milos Ivosevic, together with Nenad Maksic top scorer of Partizan with five goals each, shared the coach’s opinion: “We started well, but from minute 14 on we lost our rhythm. It was hard to return, as we are tired after the past tough four weeks.”
Top scorer of the match was HSV playmaker Michael Kraus, netting eight times in his best match in the current season. His opinion: “We also have tough weeks behind us with a lot travelling and a long list on injured players. When Alexander Brkovic mentions the weak attack of his team, then I see this fact as a compliment for our defence.”
In this mentioned minute 14 of the match the intermediate result was 8:6 for the Germans, who then accelerated in attack and strengthened their defence. At the break the distance were already four goals, and another 14 minutes later the match was decided at 23:16 for HSV, who took their first home victory in this season after the draw against Medvedi before.
Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 29:29 (15:16)
The duel of the top scorers ended with a close victory for Leon, but in the end both teams tied: Carlos Ruesga, number 4 of the current VELUX EHF Champions League top scorer list added seven goals to his tally, while Flensburgs Anders Eggert (no. 2) scored only six times, but is ahead in the overall ranking by 33:30 goals.
The match was a real Hitchock thriller, like many matches in the Leon’s cauldron Palacio de los Deports had been before. The Germans were more or less the stronger team in the first leading intermediately by 15:12 despite a huge number of mistakes in attack.
After the break no team were able to increase a gap larger than three goals – both were on absolute eye level. After the 20:20 the lead changed constantly. When SG defender Tobias Karlsson had to leave the court in minute 46 after his third suspension Ademar were close to take full control, but on the other side, goalkeeper Mattias Andersson again showed some impressive saves, which kept his team in the match.
His saves backed Flensburg, which suddenly seemed to be on the winners way after three straight goals to 28:25. Leon countered, scored three consecutive goals – and everything was open again at 28:28, frenetically cheered by the Spanish spectators. While Flensburg were shorthanded, Diego Pinero netted the 29:28 three minutes before the end. But in the final minute Eggert scored his sixth goal and Andersson saved his 14th shot to secure the draw for the Germans, who nearly had won the game, but a goal of Michael Knudsen with the final whistle was scored irregularly.
Chambery Savoie (FRA) vs. Vive Targi Kielce (POL) 26:36 (15:18)
Chambery Savoie remain on the bottom, while Vive Targi Kielce confirmed their top position in this group. After an equal start the Polish champions clearly dominated the www.ehfTV.com Match of the Week (full match report see in an additional article on www.ehfCL.com).
Again wing player Ivan Cupic (top scorer by eight goals) was the decisive factor for the fourth Kielce victory in their fourth match, which bring them back the top rank, equal in points with Metalurg Skopje.
Hit by injury problems the host were only able to stand close in the first 20 minutes. After the break the resistance of Chambery was broken very early despite the return of Damir Bicancic.
Chambery remain the only of 24 teams with zero points on their account, the Last 16 currently look very, very far away.
TEXT: Björn Pazen