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Champions League Round 4: Review

The round 4 of the Champions League saw some interesting results… Kobenhavn beat Montpellier, while Ademar took one point from THW Kiel.. everything seemed to be as predicted..

Vive Targi Kielce (POL) – Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) 37:29 (12:14)

The Polish runners-up is back on track: Thanks to their second straight victory Kielce overtook Chekhovskie Medvedi in the table and is ranked fourth now, two points ahead of Medvedi. The Danes are still waiting for their first point after Round 4.

The Poles had broken the resistance of Bjerringro already before the break, when they went to the dressing rooms with a seven goals margin. The Balkan duo Denis Buntic (nine goals) and Rastko Stojkovic (eight goals) were the key figures for Kielce, who had no problems to control the Danes in the second half.

Füchse Berlin (GER) – Atletico Madrid (ESP) 33:37 (15:17)

Atletico Madrid remain on top of this group after teaching a little lesson to the German debutant Füchse Berlin: Like on Saturday, when Leon tied against Kiel, the German sides could not beat the Spaniards in this Round. Madrid are still unbeaten with seven points, as the Foxes lost their first ever match of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

8763 spectators saw a match on a high level with speed, dynamics and in total 70 goals in 60 minutes.Especially in the second half Madrid was one class better than the host. Until the break the match had been equal, as Füchse goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter made some great saves.

Thanks to their offensive defence system the Spaniards intercepted several passes after the break – one key to the clear success. But the host fought hard – and was close again at 28:31, before the individual stronger Spaniards decided the game.

Top scorer was Berlin’s Polish international Bartlomiej Jaszka with ten goals, Madrid’s FYR Macedonian Kiril Lazarow scored six times.

After Sävehof had taken their first points on Thursday the four top ranked teams met in two direct duels. FC Barcelona Intersport is the first team to win their fourth straight match and Chambery Savoie remain on the hunt with now six points.

Chambery Savoie (FRA) – Kadetten Schaffhausen 33:29 (18:16)

Due to this victory and the Zagreb defeat against Barcelona, Chambery are equal in points with the Croats and made a huge step towards the Last 16, as they are already four points ahead of Schaffhausen and Sävehof. For the third straight time a good match did not bring any point for the Kadetten, who remain with two points.

The match was absolutely equal until the 12:12, before the French runners-up extended the gap to 18:16 at the break. Even in the second half Kadetten were close with the host. Eight minutes before the end still both teams could take both points at the score of 27:26, but then Chambery had the stronger will and defence in the final stage of this game on eye level.

Thanks to the goals of Barachet and Detrez and three important saves of Dumoulin, Chambery took those highly important points.

RK CO Zagreb (CRO) – FC Barcelona Intersport 30:31 (14:13)

First defeat for Zagreb, lucky fourth victory for Barcelona: The high class match of two top teams was open until the final second, but the Croats missed a draw in the last attack after a misunderstanding of Balic and Kopljar.

The fully pack arena Zagreb meant a great audience for this great match. The first half was equal with constantly changing leads. At halftime Zagreb was in lead with a one goal margin, but both teams were on the same high level.

But after the break Barcelona’s Bosnian goalkeeper Danijel Saric (in total 16 saves) showed his world class – he was the key factor that the Catalans were still in the match and were leading most of the time with a low margin.

After the 24:24 Barcelona steadily took the lead, as Zagreb equalized in their next attack. Two minutes before the end Barca went on the winner’s way as they were away with 31:28. But after goals of top scorer Horvat (in total ten hits) and Kopljar the game became a nail-biting thriller again. Barcelona missed their last attack, but with the final buzzer Zagreb failed, too. Best Barcelona scorers were Rutenka with seven, and Nagy and Garcia with each six goals.

The whole game had been a tribute to Iztok Puc, who had died of cancer at the age of 45 on Wednesday. The former Zagreb player was honoured by the spectators for minutes.

MKB Veszprem (HUN) – Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) 24:22 (10:10)

Veszprem is back on trackafter the defeat in Madrid, as the situation for the Russian champions is getting tougher as they still do not have a victory on their account and remain with only two points after four matches.

But it was really tough work for the Hungarians to remain with a clean spot on home soil. Chekhovskie had the better start with a 7:3 lead in minute 15 as their defence stood like a rock.

As their top scorer Marko Vujin was defended very tough, Veszprem needed some time to find their rhythm. Even as they had equalized at the break the Russian took back the lead in the second half at 17:15.

But then the great show of Carlos Perez (40) started, who became top scorer of the game with seven goals like Sergej Shelmenko of Medvedi.

The hall went crazy when first Perez equalized and then Gergö Ivancsik scored the 22:21. Veszprem- now with six points on their account – did not give the lead from their hands in the high tensioned final minutes.

Statements after the match:

Lajos Mocsai (coach Veszprem):  Two very well trained teams met in a close but great match. In the end we were the fortunate one thanks to Carlos Perez against a strong fighting Russian team. I am happy that we were able to win against a team with such qualities.

Vladimir Maximov (coach Medvedi): We had a good chance to win, but we lost, as we made too many mistakes in attack. Another factor was the 40 year old handball diamond Perez against whom we did not know what to do. We will fight until the last moment to reach the Last 16.

Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) – THW Kiel (GER) 28:28 (12:15)

Carlos Ruesga was the Leon hero on Saturday. By scoring with a direct free throw after the final buzzer he secured a draw to his brave fighting lions. THW Kiel was in lead most of the match, but missed too many chances after the break to win this thriller.

Even as the Germans were in lead with a three or four goals margin for a long time the Spaniards did not give up and showed a brilliant moral. Thanks to this victory Leon (5 points) remain ahead of the Kiel side (3), which have one match less – but are far away from their ambition to be the dominant team in their group.

The Leon victory has even to be estimated higher, as coach Isidoro Martinez had to replace some injured players like Denis Krivoshlykov.

Thanks to a strong start of Momir Illic Kiel led 11:7 and nearly kept this margin to the break. But in minute 33 Leon equalized at 16:16 – the start of a real thriller. Eight minutes before the end THW seem to be on the winner’s way at 25:22.

But Leon fought back and equalized again at 26:26. Twelve seconds before the end Filip Jicha scored from the penalty line (28:27), but with their last action Leon receive a free throw from the left back side. As the Kiel wall jumps away Ruesga’s shot hits the back of the net – and the following minutes were nothing but Spanish celebrations.

Before the game THW captain and two times CL winner Marcus Ahlm had extended his contract until 2013 –he will finish his career in Kiel.

Cimos Koper (SLO) – HSV Hamburg (GER) 23:24 (10:17)

Hamburg stumbled, but did not fall: In a game of two different halves, the German favourite was close to fail in the final stage, but remained without a spot in the end. Cimos Koper showed a brave fighting spirit after the break and would have deserved a draw thanks to this performance in the second 30 minutes.

The first goal of the match was scored by HSV newcomer Renato Vugrinec whose family live only five minutes away from the arena in Koper. This was the starting signal for the Germans to remain in their favourite role until the break.

After 20 minutes Cimos Koper took their time-out, as Hamburg was already in lead with a seven goal margin (13:6) – especially the Croats Lackovic and Duvnjak were unstoppable in this period. The guest kept this distance until the break and seemed to be on the way to their fourth victory.

But everything changed in the second half: In 15 minutes Cimos Koper scored a 6:2 series to 16:19, and even a time-out did not bring back life to HSV. Cheered by the spectators Koper equalized at 19:19 and was back on track.

But as the Slovenians could not take the lead until the end, HSV was the lucky winner. A penalty shot scored by Hans Lindberg meant the decisive goal for Hamburg, as goalkeeper Dan Beutler saved the last shot of Koper’s Uros Rapotec.

Top scorers were Milorad Krivokapic (Koper) and Blazenko Lackovic (HSV) with each five goals.

RK Partizan Beograd (SRB) – Pick Szeged (HUN) 23:29 (13:16)

First points for Pick Szeged in this season of the VELUX EHF Champions League, fourth defeat for the youngster of Partizan Beograd: The match was like a little roller coaster, but in the end the more experienced Hungarians took the victory in Vrsac.

Most of the time Pick were in lead including the clearest gap in the first half at the score of 15:9. But Beograd fought hard after the break. The Serbian champions first came closer, then equalized and even took the lead at 22:21. But thanks to six straight goals to 27:22 Pick decided the game.

Top scorers were Sulc (Szeged) with nine goals and Mandic and Kostadinovic with each seven goals for Beograd.

AG Kobenhavn (DEN) – Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA) 31:29 (21:12)

It was a thrilling duel with two completely different halves: Kobenhavn took the lead of their group with now six points after beating the before unbeaten team from Montpellier. But the Danes had to be lucky in the end, despite a temporarily ten goals lead before the break.

The match was imprinted by the currently two best handball players of the world: Mikkel Hansen, who was the decisive figure for Kobenhavn, and Nikola Karabatic who led his team to a great but unsuccessful catch-up chase. But both have not been the top scorers of their teams, as Ekberg and Sigurdsson each scored nine times for AGK and Kavticnik hit the net eleven times for MAHB.

After their triumph at Kiel two weeks ago Montpellier was far away from their top performance in the first half. AGK was flying on the wings of their spectators and easily increased the gap to a sensational 20:10 margin before the break.

But then Montpellier proved their strength, decreased the distance goal by goal and were close to turn the game in the final stage.

Thanks to some saves of AGK keeper Steinar Ege, Montpellier could not equalize at the score of 29:28. In the very last minutes it was Mikkel Hansen who decided this high class duel – latest now Kobenhavn have arrived in the group of the European top teams.

Text: EHF

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