The first leg of the Last 16 in the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League started with a huge surprise: Swiss champions Kadetten Schaffhausen beat the favoured French team Montpellier 31:26 – and could have won with an even bigger margin. In the second match Valladolid dreamed of taking two points from Hamburg until halftime. In the end the Germans won 28:22.
HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. Cuatro Rayas Valladolid (ESP) 28:22 (11:15)
As expected it was a tough fight for HSV to beat Valladolid in the first leg of the Last 16. And it needed a very loud interruption of coach Martin Schwalb in the halftime break to turn the match in the second half, as the Spaniards surprisingly led 15:11 after 30 minutes. In the end the Germans take a six-goal lead to the return match in Spain next weekend. Top scorers in this high tensioned encounter were Havard Tvedten with eight goals for Valladolid and Pascal Hens and Hans Lindbergh with six goals each for HSV.
The 2,610 spectators were surprised when Valladolid took an easy 3:0 lead and extended it to 7:3. First after that Hamburg seemed to wake up and reduced to 7:8 in minute 20. Later clever tactics of Valladolid coach Pastor hit Hamburg hard: Despite twice having one player on the bench due to a suspension, he substituted the goalkeeper for another field player – and Hamburg could not cope with this situation. And as goalkeeper Sierra played strongly, the Spaniards took a well-deserved 15:11 to the dressing rooms.
Nothing changed in the first nine minutes after the break as Valladolid still led 19:15. But then it took only nine minutes before Hamburg was in front for the first time ever in this match. Thanks to seven straight goals the Germans did not only equalize at 19:19 but went away to 20:19 and 22:19. The game turned completely, and HSV even missed several chances to give the Spaniards an early knock-out after they had lost their pace.
The game was still equal until 25:22 in minute 55, before the Germans scored three more straight goals to the final result – after Asier Antonio had received a red card after three suspensions.
Statements after the match:
Martin Schwalb, coach Hamburg: “This victory is only the halftime result of the Last 16. And to be honest this result isn’t a good one for us. It won’t be easier in Spain. Today we took too many wrong decisions before the break, in the second half our defence and goalkeeper Johannes Bitter paved the way to the victory. As Valladolid played really strong today, this victory doesn’t mean anything for the second leg.”
Juan Carlos Pastor, coach Valladolid: “We deserved a better result. Two facts were decisive in the end: the suspensions against our team and the huge numbers of balls we lost. Now we have to focus on the return leg.”
Mathias Flohr, player Hamburg: “It was quite loud in our dressing room during the break, but we were really pushed by our coach’s speech. So we were able to improve. Still this was only part one of the Last 16. The real final will be played in Valladolid.”
Havard Tvedten, player Valladolid: “Having a look on the statistics you can see that we made too many mistakes, as we lost too many easy balls against a strong HSV defence. But we still have another 60 minutes to change the result.”
Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) – Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA) 31:26 (17:11)
It was one of the biggest sensations ever in Swiss handball history: Kadetten Schaffhausen could reach the Quarterfinals of the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League for the first time ever. Montpellier can even be lucky that they lost with a five goal difference ‘only’.
Like in the last domestic matches before, Montpellier (missing Accambray, Hamed and Di Panda due to injuries) was far away from their normal form – while Schaffhausen showed their match of the year.
Kadetten played out of their skins for 50 minutes – and the French team with all their World Champions stood aside. Outstanding player of the match was Kadetten goalkeeper Björgvin Gustvasson who saved 17 shots of Montpellier. Thanks to his performance Schaffhausen had the confidence that Montpellier was missing all over.
After 4:4 the Kadetten engine started – and thanks to three goals after the 14:11 they took a well-deserved six goal lead into the second half. And it became even worse for Montpellier: As Schaffhausen showed a brilliant offensive performance, Montpellier became nervous, hectic and with one mistake after the next. Having no real leader on court Montpellier had to face their fate.
In minute 45 it looked like a desaster for the French champion as Kadetten had extended the gap to ten goals (26:16) for the first time. This distance remained until the 29:19, then Montpellier started their late catch-up chase. Thanks to a 7:2 series they kept the hopes alive to turn the result on home ground – but will at least need a six goal victory. There is a high risk for them to be eliminated by Kadetten if they play like on Wednesday. Top scorers were Goepfert and Ursic with seven goals each for Schaffhausen and Bojinovic with six goals for Montpellier.
Text from: Bjorn Pazen – eurohandball.com