Portland’s dream comes trueArticle
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Portland wins by eight goals against Ciudad Real to reach Champions League semi-finals.

Portland’s dream comes true

Winning against Ciudad Real by five goals is never easy, but Portland made it. The hosts played a perfect match and reached the semi-finals. The 37-29 victory of Javier Equisoain’s team turned the University Pavilion in a great party hall.

It was the faith of the Pamplona team and their supporters that kept the match alive all the time and this faith made San Antonio fight until the last minute.

Great home defending

Dzomba scoresThe Swedish international goalkeeper, Thomas Svensson, and the best player of the last World Championship, Ivano Balic, led Portland to a very valuable victory. Svensson drove to despair to opponents saving impossible shots. The Portland defensive wall also helped him in this; Demetrio Lozano and Davor Dominkovic were very effective.

Talant Djusebaiev was banned and this had a great impact as the Spanish playmaker is vital to the attacking play of Ciudad. As there was no real leader of the team, Rutenka, Entrerrios and Stefansson looked for the pivot, Rolando Urios in every attack, but the defenders marked him very well. The backcourt players of Ciudad were forced to shoot from impossible positions, but Svensson saved these chances. In fact, Kasper was the first choice goalkeeper for Portland, but the Swede came in to replace him that proved to be a great decision.

Ivano Balic showed his quality in attack. The Croatian player gave lesson on creative handball. Balic dictated the pace that his team needed and helped his mates a lot. Nikolic found the spaces that Balic created, and took the chances.

Creativity in attack

Vugrinec and Kjelling shot from the nine-meter line and scored important goals. The shots opened the Ciudad Real defence and made things easier for Portland. Albert Rocas played finally and showed a good performance, though he was not 100%. However, the Catalonian right wing had a role in the final victory.

Balic thanks the supportersPortland were leading by three goals at halftime. The difference was already promising for the team of Equisoain. The Portland players started to believe in the success and there was a lot of pressure on Ciudad Real.

Portland had nine goals of advantage just four minutes from the end, and the miracle was near. The teams were nervous and they were not efficient any longer. Sterbik made two good saves – though he was in worse form than usually – and it gave back the hope for Ciudad. It was Kjelling’s last minute goal that decided the game finally.

Pamplona eliminated one the best teams of CL. The team of coach Equisoain are now waiting for the CL draw on Tuesday. Two Spanish and two German teams will be in the semi-finals.

TEXT: Fernando Urra Goñi