First defeats for PSG and Aalborg, biggest ever win for Magdeburg
After the first four matches of Round 4 in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, only one team has managed to keep the perfect score: THW Kiel after a battle of defenses in Bitola. The winning streaks of Paris Saint-Germain and Aalborg Handbold were stopped by Industria Kielce and Pick Szeged, while SC Magdeburg secured their first points after a one-sided match against RK Celje.
• like in the 2023 semi-final at Cologne, Industria Kielce beat Paris Saint-Germain in a thrilling MOTW
• a brilliant defensive performance paved the way for THW Kiel's third win in the same number of matches, although beating Eurofarm Pelister on their ground was anything but easy
• after their close defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and THW Kiel, Pick Szeged shone against Aalborg, thanks to overall top scorer Mario Sostaric
• Kiel are two points ahead of the trio Kielce, Aalborg and PSG in the table of group A now
• in group B, defending champions Magdeburg took their first win of the season, at the same time their biggest in their Champions League history – after an early 10:1 run against Celje
If you concede only 20 goals in an away match, the chances are quite high that you will end up victorious – but THW Kiel had a tough nut to crack in Bitola. The hosts, who had lost both previous group matches clearly, defended extremely well, but on the other side THW's defensive wall, including strong new goalkeeper Samir Bellahcene (12 saves, 45% saving percentage) proved to be even stronger. In the first ever duel of the two sides, Pelister Eurofarm managed to keep the game leveled until 19:19 with just over ten minutes to go, when Kiel sealed the deal with three in a row by Niklas Ekberg, Domagoj Duvnjak and Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu for the 22:19. Almost all stats were equal in the end - Kiel's little advantage was the attacking efficiency of 56% compared to 51%. Bogdan Radivojevic (Eurofarm Pelister), Ekberg and Ellefsen á Skipagøtu topped the scorers list by five goals each.
Unbelievably tough match for us here today, in front of an absolutely amazing crowd. The atmosphere was really unbelievable throughout the entire game. As said, a hard-fought win in the end in which, I feel, our experience played a key role as we were able to make the right moves in those final minutes of the encounter and seal the deal.
We've delivered a really good performance here today, just the one we needed to play a competitive game against Kiel. Maybe that was not the best-looking handball one has ever seen, but we were able to stay close until the very end of the game. I feel like their experience in such situations on this levelled proved to be the key as we ended up missing from a couple of clear looks, and a team like Kiel certainly knows how to take advantage of such mistakes.
Goalkeeper Emil Kheri Imsgard, who saved 13 shots and won the duel between the posts against Niklas Landin, and overall EHF Champions League top scorer Mario Sostaric, who added nine more goals to the list of now 26 goals, were Szeged's heroes in their first win of the season. Aalborg had arrived with confidence after winning the first two matches and scoring an average of 36 goals per match – this time, 27 were not enough. The first 20 minutes were fully equal, then the hosts pulled ahead to a five-goals advantage at 19:14. Aalborg improved their defense after the break, coming close to turning the match around at 22:21, before Szeged took control again. Sostaric's seventh goal of the night for the 28:22 ten minutes before the end sealed the deal.
RESULT: @pickhandball pick up their first #ehfcl win of the season! They beat #AalborgHandbold 34:27 in front of their home crowd! Mario Šoštarić managed to score 9/10 tonight! 👏 #ehfcl | #clm | #DareToRise pic.twitter.com/czbmicvAHj— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) September 27, 2023
I have never experienced such a feeling in my coaching career before and I have to thank my team for making it possible! We've really worked a lot to progress mentally and physically, to step forward from the sympathetic loser role and leave the field as winners, and I have to say this win really feels fantastic. The guys played with big heart, and the spectators created a sensational atmosphere. We are delighted with the victory and aim to continue the same way.
We've played in a sensational atmosphere here today. It's always a great experience to come to Szeged. The home team deserved the win. I regret that we didn't manage to deliver the right performance dealing with several injury problems. If you only give seventy five percent in a match like this - it can't result with anything else but the defeat for your team.
Industria Kielce are back on track after their opening defeat against Aalborg. Winning their second consecutive match, they are now equal with Paris and Aalborgwith four points. Despite the fact that their top star Alex Dujshebaev was ruled out by a muscle injury in the second half, Kielce stood the heat and took their sixth win in now 13 duels against PSG. Paris' last advantage was at 5:4, and then Kielce more or less controlled the match with the gap going up and down constantly from one to four goals. Finally a 3:0 run in the crunch time decided the match, when tonight's top scorer Szymon Sicko (eight goals), Igor Karacic and former PSG player Dylan Nahi extended the lead to 29:25. Best PSG scorer was Polish international Kamil Syprzak with seven goals, while his national team teammate - Kielce's Arkadiusz Moryto, who netted five, ended up being awarded Player of the Match.
Great game for us today, against a top-quality opponent really. We really wanted to win the game, and thank our former President Bertus Servaas the right way for everything he's done for the team. I feel like we've proved that we once again have a very good team that can do a lot this season.
We were very well aware of hard this game is going to be. We've really tried our best today and failed. I feel like it was from the very first moment visible how important this game is for both sides, which honestly makes me even more sad that we didn't manage to win points.
21 years after their last EHF Champions League duel, SC Magdeburg had a slow start, but then outclassed the visitors. The attack was incomparable to the two clear defeats in the first rounds - at home against Veszprém (28:33) and in Barcelona (20:32). The duel was already decided between minutes 12 and 23, when the defending champions turned a 6:8 deficit into a 16:9 lead, boosted by a series of counter-attack goals and great saves from goalkeeper Nikola Portner. Right after the break the gap went to double-figures for the first time at 24:14, and finally, as the goal machine was running, Magdeburg took their biggest ever EHF Champions League win. Their previous top results were two big wins against Vardar Skopje in 2001 and 2003, 33:19 and 38:24. Omar Ingi Magnusson netted eight, Matthias Musche seven goals.
Congratulations to Magdeburg. They have one of the best teams in Europe and are clear candidates to secure a Final 4 spot this season. We've got to keep our heads high and look forward as we've got an important national league tie ahead of us.
There was only one goal for the team today, and that was to get the first points in this Champions League season. In the end, that's exactly what we did.