Barça end SCM curse, Veszprém turn the tide
After round 2 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League is played, seven teams still have a clean record with two wins: Aalborg, Kiel and Paris in group A, Veszprém, Barça, GOG and Porto in group B. In contrast, 2023 Champions League winners SC Magdeburg lost their second straight match, getting outclassed at Barcelona.
- Kolstad were close to turn the match against Kielce around, but in the end the half-time deficit proved to be too big
- Kiel needed 45 minutes to end Szeged’s resistance; losing 32:35 means that the Hungarian runners-up still have to wait for their first away victory in Kiel after eight attempts
- PSG decided the match against Zagreb in the very end, scoring a 4:1 run in the last ten minutes
- goalkeeper Emil Nielsen was Barça’s hero in the one-sided match against Magdeburg, the revenge for the defeat in the 2023 semi-final
- after a weak start against Montpellier, Veszprém took their second win thanks to wing Mikita Vailupau
Kolstad showed a brilliant comeback in the second half, but the time was ticking against the Norwegian champions in their maiden home match in the European top flight. Kolstad led 6:5 early in the game, but then Kielce took full control until the break. Thanks to an impressive performance of the defence and goalkeeper Milosz Walach (13 saves in total), they forged ahead to 17:11 and later even to 21:14. A quick double strike of Sander Sagosen, some saves of goalkeeper Torbjørn Bergerud have brought the hosts back on track. Four minutes before the end, Arkadiusz Moryto ended all Kolstad hopes with the decisive 30:26. Best scorers in a very entertaining match were Gøran Johannessen with eight goals for Kolstad and Szymon Sicko, who netted six times for the victory. Both sides are equal on two points now.
Kielce had a deserved win, it was a great experience for us to play at home with a great atmosphere. We lost the game in the last 10 min of the first half, a lot of bad decisions, and against a great team as Kielce it is not good enough. But I am proud of our team, we kept fighting.
We started the game very concentrated, but in the second half, Kolstad showed how good team they are and with a lot of good players. It was a nice fight, we were happy to get two points in the end.
After more than a 100-days injury break, THW defence boss Hendrik Pekeler made his comeback, while new goalkeeper Samir Bellahcene marked his international debut for Kiel as replacement of injured new arrival Vincent Gerard. Although Szeged were ahead only once in the whole match, at 13:12, the hosts needed more than 45 minutes to seal the second victory of the season after winning the opener at Zagreb. The score was close until the minute 47 and the 25:24, then Kiel pulled ahead by a 7:2 run and had decided the match. Szeged’s Slovenian Mario Sostaric was overall top scorer with eight goals, one more than Niclas Ekberg, Kiel’s best scorer, and his teammate Bence Bánhidi. Roland Mikler’s 12 saves saved the Hungarian runners-up from a bigger defeat, but his side remains on zero points.
It was a perfect start for me in Kiel with this win in a big game against a great opponent. I have to admit that I felt a bit of pressure this morning because I knew it would be my first Champions League game with THW. But Filip (Jicha) told me that my only job is to help the team. I will keep working to help my team.
For us it's a crazy situation: We have seven new players and a new staff, and it's very difficult to put things together. I think we need more time to practise. Nevertheless we played very well in the first half, in the second half we lost too many balls in attack so Kiel could score fast and easy goals.
In the international debut of new coach Andrija Nikolic, Zagreb gave a big fight and intermediately were close to take their first point against the French side since a draw in 2016, but finally Paris Saint-Germain took their 11th win against the Croatian record champions in the 13th duel. The visitors were almost constantly ahead in the first half, before Paris turned the match around, but could not cast-off the bravely fighting visitors. Ten minutes before the end, the score was 31:30 for PSG, then Zagreb ran out of power and scored only one more goal, while Kamil Syprzak netted three of his seven goals in the final stage and became top scorer of the match. Paris have four points on the account, Zagreb zero.
We really played good in attack, particularly in the first half of the game, where we scored a lot of goals. In defense, we prepared well our system and we know what we have to do against this attack of Zagreb. I am happy to be back in the team and surprised of this incredible atmosphere tonight.
We can be satisfied for this game regarding our club context. We’ve changed our head coach last week so it was a messy week for us. We tried to collect ourselves together and I think we succeed in this process in order to play a good game. Unfortunately, we were not able to stay in the game at the end.
Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 33:31 (13:15)
In contrast to the last week against Barça, Montpellier HB were ahead at the break and kept their advance until minute 42 (22:21), but then Veszprém steamrolled over the French side. Backed by strong Belarusian wing Mikita Vailupau, who scored all his six goals after the break, the hosts took their 12th win in their 17th duel with Montpellier. In a match with no impact of any goalkeeper, Veszprém turned the tide with a decisive 12:6 run until minute 58 for the score of 33:28. Best scorers were Yehia Elderaa (seven for Veszprém) and Sebastian Karlsson (six for Montpellier). While the French side remain on zero points, Veszprém have the maximum of four.
Montpellier were fighting till the end. It is always hard to play against them. It is the Champions League, anyone can beat anyone. Our defence was the key, in the second half we were getting better in the goal. Fortunately, we could take the lead. I liked the mentality of the team, that was the key to win.
We played very well and fought until the end. Despite the defeat, I am proud of our team, as we pushed until the last moment. We came for the two points, but unfortunately, we have to go home without them.
Barça (ESP) vs SC Magdeburg (GER) 32:20 (14:8)
What a statement of the record winners against the defending champions: The 20:32 was the second biggest defeat of SC Magdeburg in their EHF Champions League history, just below the 25:38 against Barça in 2003. After losing their opener against Veszprém 28:33 at home, the reigning trophy holders still wait for their first point of the season. Barça’s victory was sealed already in the first half, and the match had one hero: Danish goalkeeper Emil Nielsen had already been Barça’s match winner last week at Montpellier. Against Magdeburg they had an intermediate saving percentage of 60% after 20 minutes, and had 18 saves (48%) on his tally. After losing the 2021 and 2022 IHF Super Globe finals and the 2023 EHF Champions League semi-final against SCM, Barça ended their Magdeburg curse in style. In minute 39, the gap was double-figured for the first time at 22:12, Barça’s right attacking side with unstoppable Dika Mem (8) and Aleix Gomez (6) combined for 14 goals. Magdeburg’s only player with a regular performance was a Spaniard: new goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez with 11 saves.
Everything worked since the beginning of the game. We had a bit of a revenge to solve and we accomplished. We showed our potential. We’ve lost some players, but I still think we can be in Cologne and win it all.
We need to show more consistency. We have had really good but also bad performances, so we need to find a balance. There are no words after a loss like tonight. In the first half we struggled to build up our attack and it was easy for Nielsen to make saves.
Photo: Victor Salgado (Barça), Laurene Valroff (PSG), Sascha Klahn (Kiel), Ida/Titt Melhuus (Kolstad), Roland Peka (Veszprém)