While Holstebro take the lead after beating Elverum, Löwen beat Kolding in Sunday’s top duel.
Danes win, Danes lose
A Danish double with different outcome: In Group C Tvis Holstebro easily beat Elverum in the Scandinavian duel and took the lead after four Rounds. In contrast, KIF Kolding lost the re-match at Rhein Neckar Löwen – and the direct encounter against the German team, which now is equal in points in Group B.
Rhein Neckar Löwen (GER) – KIF Kolding (DEN) 28:25 (16:10)
Rhein Neckar Löwen took revenge for the 23:25 defeat in the first leg in Denmark and are equal with KIF Kolding by six points now. The Germans dominated the match for more than 50 minutes, then the improvement and the catch-up chase of the Danes came to late to turn the match around. Key factors for the victory were two players from Balkan countries: Zarko Sesum scored ten goals and goalkeeper Goran Stojanovic shut up his shop in the final stages.
Currently Kolding are in lead of the Group thanks to the better goal difference – but if both are equal in the end, the direct duel is decisive, and Löwen won this in aggregate by 51:50 goals.
„We started very well in defence and attack,“ said Löwen coach Gudmun dur Gudmundsson, “but as our level of performance decreased after the break, Kolding came quite close.“ For Löwen manager Thorsten Storm “the match had two heroes: Zarko Sesum and Goran Stojanovic. Aside it was a victory of our great will.”
Kolding-Coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen analysed that “we could not stop Zarzo Sesum. We arrive here to take a draw, but in the end we failed against Stojanovic. Now we hope to finish second in the group – and to face Löwen again, at the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes.”
The Löwen defence stood brilliant in the opening stage and the host took the profit to march ahead to 7:2 after eleven minutes. But the Danes stroke back intermediately, causing a time-out of Löwen coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson, as the result was 10:9. His players understood the words of the Icelandic – and strengthened the defence to finish the first half with a comfortable 16:10 lead.
And this six goals distance lasted until the final stages, latest at 24:18 in minute 50 the winner was confirmed – but then Kolding showed character and started their catch-up chase after the 26:20 with six minutes on the clock. But even by scoring five goals in five minutes, they could not endanger the Germans – mainly because their goalkeeper Goran Stojanovic saved some brilliant shots in the dying minutes. And his final save against Rasmus Jensen (best KIF scorer with six goals) secured the three goal margin and the win of the direct encounter for his team.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) – Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR) 33:18 (16:10)
Team Tvis Holstebro took the lead in Group C and remain unbeaten after four matches with two victories and two draws. The Danes now rank one point ahead of Branik Maribor and two ahead of Orlen Wisla Plock – so the last two rounds will bring highest tension, which team or teams proceed to the quarter-finals.
After the 28:28 in the first leg in Norway, Elverum this time was without any chance against the Danes, for whom Michael Damgaard Nielsen was the top scorer with eight goals. Key for the clear success was the highly movable and offensive defence of Holstebro, which enabled the Danes to score by counter attack goals. Elverum resigned after the break, scoring only eight goals, while their opponent forged ahead goal by goal to a final 15 goal distance.
“Since a long time we did not play against a strong defence like this,” Elverum coach Christian Berge said: “Holstebro were much better than us in all departments and we caused too many mistakes in attack.” Best scorer for his team was Andre Lindboe by six goals. With only one point on their account, the Norwegians are already out for the race for the quarter-finals.
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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