Szeged take huge win in the play-off race
Though round 7 is only half-time in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League group phase, the duel against RK Celje Pivovarna Laško was already a vital encounter for Pick Szeged.
And the Hungarian champions stood the heat as they took a clear 36:27 win to increase their lead over Celje in group B to two points. The victory was Szeged's second straight home victory, while the visitors remain on two points after their fifth straight defeat.
- until the 18th minute and the score of 11:11, Celje were fully equal, but Szeged then easily pulled ahead with a 7:1 run before the break to have quite a comfortable cushion for the second half
- with line player Bence Bánhidi back on track, Pick had a much greater attacking variety and scored from all positions, underlined by their much higher attacking efficiency of 58 per cent compared to Celje’s 47 per cent at the break and the fact that four players scored four times each
- when Celje’s defence specialist Ante Ivankovic received a red card after his third suspension, Szeged capitalised and had their first double-digit advantage (26:16) in the 44th minute
- the visitors reduced the gap a bit, but Szeged were never in any danger and sealed the deal when they led 32:25 eight minutes before the buzzer
- the best scorers for Szeged were Kent Robin Tönnesen, Bence Bánhidi and Sebastian Frimmel (six goals each), while Tilen Strmljan struck five times for Celje
Relieving win for Pick Szeged
Pick Szeged's expectations in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League were huge after defending the title in the Hungarian league – but they have never made it to Cologne, which is their international goal each season.
But after four defeats in the first four rounds and after five defeats in the first six group matches, it was something like red alert for Szeged. But the huge win against Celje was a relief for Szeged. Having beaten both sides below them now means that they have quite a good position in the race for a play-off spot.
It’s clear that we were under pressure because we don’t have too many points, so we have to win some games before Christmas. In the second part of the first half our defence was good and we controlled the game. And we also started well in the second half. Then we made some mistakes, but we could still win this match.
We are happy and our fans are happy too when we have a victory like this. We were under big pressure before the game and we are still under pressure because we need points in the Champions League. In the beginning we were a bit nervous but then we could improve. We know that next week’s match in Celje will be a totally different game. They will be strong in front of their fans.
They were better today. We started the match well but then we were nervous and we made some serious mistakes, especially in defence. We couldn’t make the things which were asked to by our coach. We couldn’t score easy goals; we were not good enough in attack. We have to improve.