GOG keep dream aliveArticle
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The Danes have beaten Szeged by 28-25 and now prepare for the decisive game in Barcelona.

GOG keep dream alive

GOG Svendborg TGI kept their semi-finals chances alive as they won their home match against Pick Szeged in Group 4. The match on Sunday afternoon ended 28-25.

As FC Barcelona won 32-27 over Celje Pivovarna Lasko, it means that Barcelona and GOG are now the only teams with a chance to win the group and proceed to the semi-finals. Celje and Szeged lost their chances with two matches to go. The first place is likely to be decided on Saturday when Barcelona and GOG meet in Palau Blaugrana.

A star was born

Puljezevic had chance only in the first halfA star was born this Sunday afternoon in the small village of Gudme in the Southern part of the Danish island Funen, where the match was played. The 19-year old GOG keeper, Niklas Landin Jacobsen, replaced the injured Danish international, Peter Henriksen. He made an outstanding performance, and just take in consideration his young age and lack of international experience.

Landin is known as a huge talent, but his lack of big-match experience was worrying for GOG when it was clear that Henriksen could not play. Landin silenced the sceptics with astonishing 23 saves – eight more than Hungarian international Nenad Puljezevic!

Five crucial GOG goals

The first half was a poor affair with a lot of mistakes on both sides with Pick Szeged benefitting from the Danish mistakes. This meant that the Hungarian champions were in the lead for the first 30 minutes. Most of the time Szeged were one or two goals up, but as the break approached they even got four goals up at 12-8 and 13-9. At this point it was actually only Landin who saved the Danes from getting too far behind.

With a 14-11 lead for the visitors at half time, Pick Szeged seemed to be heading for their second victory in the Main Round – the first one being the 34-33 home win in their first match against GOG, a result which was also GOG´s only defeat so far. The second half started accordingly: in GOG’s first attack after the break, Sándor Bajusz stole a ball and he made it 15-11 for the visitors.

That was it for the Hungarians! In the following 6 minutes GOG won 5-0, giving the hosts a 16-15 lead, which soon increased to 18-16 and 20-17.

All of a sudden, the Danish defence was working well, and this gave the basics for GOG’s feared counter-attacks not coming before.

At the same time, some of the Szeged players seemed tired and it was no wonder that GOG could lead 27-23. Pick Szeged reduced the distance to two goals at 27-25, but this was too late to change the outcome. Majority of the 1,250 spectators in the small Gudme hall celebrated the GOG success as they scored the last goal of the match that secured their third home win in the Main Round.

Huge pressure

The young goalkeeper in the focus of interest all of a sudden“Of course it is always nice to play well, but there was a huge pressure on me after Peter (Henriksen, ed.) said before the match that he would not be able to play. I managed to keep calm and wait for the shots. Then the defence in front of me did very well,” the GOG hero of the day, goalkeeper Niklas Landin, said after the triumph.

“It was a bit hectic. We got a poor start and their goalkeeper did well. But in the second half we showed a lot more spirit, improved our defence and got our counter-attacks going. Now we have a very important domestic league match away against Viborg on Wednesday and then we can start to prepare for the Barcelona match,” said another young GOG profile, the 20-year old Mikkel Hansen.

Hansen scored 7 goals for GOG, while Sándor Bajusz scored the same number of goals for Pick Szeged. The Hungarians have 2 points after 4 matches just as Celje. GOG and Barcelona share the lead in the group with 6 points each.

TEXT: Peter Bruun