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The Serbian champion takes a five-goal advantage for the second leg in Italy.


The first clash between the Serbian and Italian champion was won by Crvena zvezda. On Sunday evening, in front of 1 000 home supporters in the “Sumice” hall, the club from the Serbian capital defeated Italgest Casarano by 26:21 (13:10). This was the first match of the Champions League Qualification Round 1.

It means that the team of new coach Igor Butulija, former captain and the legend of the club, will go to Italy with five goals advantage. Crvena zvezda had a chance to close the match with a bigger goal difference as the home team were leading by seven goals a few minutes from the end. But lack of concentration in the closing minutes allowed the Italians to close the gap…

“I was more afraid of this game than of the next one in Italy. Playing at home always carries a big pressure for a young team like ours that want to impress their fans. Only the lack of experience can be blamed for not taking a bigger victory. I’m not satisfied with the last five minutes of the match, because we didn’t manage to punish the opponent in counterattacks. Anyway, we have a good advantage and for our young team it would be a great success to enter the group phase of the Champions League,” stated the head coach Igor Butulija at the press conference after the game in Belgrade.

Italgest Casarano started the match better, leading 5:3 in the 8th minute. Butulija then decided to change the goalkeeper. Ljubisic replaced Perisic and from that moment on everything changed on the court. Crvena zvezda leveled the score at 7:7 and than gained three-goal advantage at the half time.

The same goal deference was after 15 minutes in the second half (18:15), but in the next ten minutes Crvena zvezda went up to five goals (21:16, 49th minute), and five minute from the end the Serbians were leading 26:19. Cz did not have the energy to knock the guests out …

“I am sorry we didn’t secure a bigger victory. This happened because we don’t have enough experience. We were not in top form, but we are grateful to our great fans, they helped us a lot tonight. I believe we will play much better in Italy and that we will get into group phase of the Champions League,” said the goalkeeper of Crvena zvezda Bojan Ljubisic who arrived from Bosnia Herzegovina.

The best scorers in the home team were Milan Vukas and the Montenegrin national team player Mirko Milasevic, both with six goals. In the Italian squad Juan Martin Carrara and Davorin Prskalo also scored six.

“Congratulations to the home team. But this is only the “first half” and I hope that we would do better in the second leg,” stated Francesko Trapani, head coach of Italgest Casarano.

The second match will be played in Casarano on 13 September. The winner is going to play in the Group D of the Champions League with FCK Handbold A/S, HSV Hamburg and Tatran Presov.

TEXT: Sasa Joncic