Porto take a precious win over Aalborg
On Thursday night, FC Porto and Aalborg Håndbold faced each other in the first leg of what looked on paper to be the hardest EHF Champions League Men play-off tie to predict.
After the first half in Portugal, Porto had aspirations of securing a large advantage ahead of the second leg. However, a strong start to the second half from the Danish visitors meant that the hosts had to produce their best in the final quarter to earn a 32:29 win.
PLAY-OFFS, FIRST LEG
FC Porto (POR) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) 32:29 (18:14)
- Porto were firing on all cylinders offensively in the first half, scoring 18 goals at an impressive 82 per cent shooting efficiency
- after Antonio Areia scored his fifth goal, the Portuguese side led by up to six goals in the 25th minute
- Aalborg produced a much better defensive performance in the second half and equalised in the 38th minute. But the hosts played much better in the last 15 minutes and restored their four-goal lead in the 55th minute (28:24)
- a last-second Sebastian Barthold goal brought back Aalborg within three at the siren, meaning the tie remains open prior to the second leg
- Victor Iturriza scored eight goals for Porto; Sebastian Barthold also netted eight times for Aalborg
- the two sides will play the second leg next Wednesday in Denmark
Nikola Mitrevski – quality over quantity
Having “only” recorded 11 saves at a 28 per cent efficiency rate, Nikola Mitrevski's statistics might not be the most impressive – but each and every one of his saves were crucial.
Mitrevski first prevented Sebastian Barthold from levelling the score at 20:20, before stopping Mark Marcher's fast break a couple of minutes later. The goalkeeper from North Macedonia was instrumental in helping Porto to increase their lead in the last 10 minutes, keeping their hopes alive ahead of the second leg.
It’s only half-time. As Rui (Silva) said, we played against a very good team that plays at a very high level in the EHF Champions League and Danish championship. In this difficult time, it makes me happy that I can have my team playing at this level.