CL summary: Men’s Round 3Article
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Barcelona, Veszprém and Chekhov lost their first points over the weekend. Read the complete summary of an eventful round!

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CL summary: Men’s Round 3

This was a perfect weekend for German clubs who took eight points – exactly the double of the Spanish points.

The biggest game of the week brought a Kiel success. The Germans won for the first time ever (at their sixth attempt) in Barcelona. Also Flensburg, Hamburg and Rhein Neckar Löwen celebrated comfortable victories. Portland lost surprisingly in Koper and Veszprém were defeated in Haukar. Now their advantage after beating Flensburg is gone.

Only five teams remain spotless after three matches: Kiel, Hamburg, Ciudad Real, Leon and Chambery. Even Chekhov lost in Bucharest. Steaua are equal to the Russians (4 points each).

Group H seems to be decided: Zagreb and Löwen have a clear advantage as Zagreb won in Szeged. Five of the 32 clubs still wait for their first points in the competition.

Group A
Granitas Karys – Celje Pivovarna Lasko 21:37 (11:17)
Chambery Savoie HB – Hammarby IF 31:18 (13:10)

The Slovenian champion Celje are also heading for the Main Round after two consecutive victories. Driven by David Spiler’s nine and Eduard Koksharov’s 7 goals, Celje had an easy evening in Lithuania beating Karys. The match was already decided at halftime. The Lituanian top scorer, Aidenas Malasinskas, only hit the net five times. Karys stays without a point after three matches.

Chambery can prepare for the Main Round. The French remain spotless after three rounds in Group A. With an improving performance in the second half, the French club secured a clear victory against the Swedes.
“We are very satisfied with the second half. Our defence worked well as Hammarby only scored eight goals. We took a well-deserved victory,” Chambery coach Philippe Gardent said. After an equal start Chambery scored five times in a row, but Hammarby kept up until the break. Gregoire Detrez, who scored eight times, was the match winner – together with the strong defence. Chambery decided the game in the second half.

Group B
ASE Doukas – Ciudad Real 21:42 (11:16)
GOG Svendborg – Bosna Sarajevo 30:26 (17:14)

With an impressive goal difference of plus 47, Ciudad Real are leading the group after three victories. The CL title holders didn’t have any problem with the Greek champion who take part in the competition for the first time. The Greek only had enough power for the first half, but afterwards the Spanish champions went through the Doukas defence like a knife through warm butter. The best player of the home team was goalkeeper Georgiadis with 14 saves and the best scorer of Ciudad was pivot Torsten Laen once again with ten goals. Fernandez and Parrondo scored seven times. Ciudad had their best period after 23:14 and they won the last part of the game by 19:7 until the end.

After losing the first match against Ciudad Real very clearly, GOG are now back on track with four points after winning an important match against Bosna. The winger Fredrik Petersen scored nine goals against the Bosnians who also hope to qualify for the Main Round. Sarajevo put a lot of pressure on GOG, but the favourites could survive. Even without the injured Kasper Nielsen, Svendborg controlled the match in the second half and came to a narrow but deserved victory.

Group C
Metalurg Skopje – Drammen HK 37:30 (21:14)
FC Barcelona Borges – THW Kiel 27:31 (15:15)

A bitter sweet victory for THW: the Germans celebrated a historic success in Barcelona, but they had to swallow a bitter pill. Norwegian Börge Lund was seriously injured and he will miss a few months with a torn Achilles string. Kiel’s key player was their outstanding goalkeeper, Thierry Omeyer. He was especially effective after the break.

“This was a great game,” said Nikola Karabatic.

Barcelona’s player, Demetrio Lozano added: “We had a lot of illusions before the match, but our defence didn’t work well after the break. In attack we had some good moves, but Omeyer made great saves.”

Barca coach Manolo Cadenas also was impressed by Omeyer: “He played incredibly well. We need to improve for the match in Kiel.”

According to Kiel coach Alfred Gislasson, the key to success was the defence and Omeyer. He reminds: “Barcelona can win on every court and the match in Kiel will be difficult for us.”

An important match for the third place of the group was played in Skopje between the two pointless teams. The hosts have beaten Drammen by 7 goals.

2 500 spectators saw a deserved home success after leading at halftime with a comfortable difference. For Metalurg it was the first victory after eight defeats in a row in the CL. The FYR Macedonians started well and took a 7:0 lead quickly. Line player Vancho Dimovski showed an outstanding performance and scored 7 goals from 7 attempts in the first half. Drammen improved for the second half, but could not endanger Metalurg.

Skopje’s Zvonko Shundovski was very satisfied: “We were prepared for Drammen; we focused completely on this game. I’m very happy that we manage to win. Now we are aiming to reach third place of the group and I hope that we will spend the winter playing in the European Cup.”

Drammen’s coach, Bent Dahl, criticised his team: “Metalurg opened the match very well and we were far behind.”

The top scorers were Shmigic with eight goals for Skopje and Spanne with twelve goals for Drammen.

Group D
Red Star Beograd – HSV Hamburg 22:38 (12:17)
Tatran Presov – FC Copenhagen 32:33 (18:14)

After Hamburg made a big step towards the Main Round by winning in Serbia, Copenhagen was a lucky winner in Slovakia. Hamburg didn’t have any difficulties in the game, so coach Martin Schwalb could to bring his second string on court. The top scorer of Hamburg was winger Hans Lindbergh with eight goals in Belgrade. “We were given a lesson in handball”, Beograd’s coach Igor Butulija said afterwards. “We are very satisfied with our start,” said Schwalb.

The big sensation was near, but in the end Copenhagen secured two very important points for their objective, which is reaching the Main Round. The hall was packed with fantastic supporters and Presov punished the Copenhagen mistakes in the first half with a strong backcourt line. Surprisingly, the hosts were in the lead after 30 minutes. However, as FCK played with more impetus and aggression the distance decreased. In the last ten minutes Copenhagen turned the page and were even leading with a three goal difference just five minutes from the end.

At this point Presov, with their outstanding goalkeeper Krupa, didn’t give up. In the end FCK could celebrate.

“It was pretty tense until the final whistle,” FCK coach Magnus Andersson admitted: “We had to fight very hard, but I hope that we learned a lesson for the future: you have to respect every team in the Champions League.”

The Slovakians remain with two points as FCK are second in the group with 4 points.

“Towards the end their backs were better than ours and we could not take the point we were dreaming of,” Presov coach Rastislav Trtik said.

The best scorers were Kozlov (Presov 9) and Christensen (Copenhagen 12). But the star of the evening was Jakub Krupa, who said afterwards:

”I think we had a big chance to win. Everybody prepared carefully and all the players and fans today would have deserved the victory.”

Group E
Cimos Koper – Portland San Antonio 31:29 (15:16)
Steaua Bucuresti – Chekhovski Medvedi 34:32 (20:17)

Former CL winner Portland San Antonio are far away from the performance they showed in the past seasons. After losing in Chekhov, the team from Pamplona also left the points in Slovenia. With their first victory of the year, Koper still have a chance to reach the Main Round. 2 700 spectators filled the Bonifiki hall and witnessed a big sensation. Thanks to the outstanding goalkeeper Voncina, Koper won a mostly equal match in the last 15 minutes. In contrast to the defeat against Bucuresti, Koper played a better endgame. Pamplona weren’t able to score in the final stage of the match.

In first halftime Stojanovic scored six times, while in the end the eight goals of Brumen made the difference against San Antonio.

Pamplona’s coach, Villaldea Chechu, was disappointed. “It will be hard for a lot of teams to win in Koper. We had too many suspensions in the decisive stage of the match.”

Portland’s Renato Vugrinec took a trip back to his home country:

“It was a great atmosphere, congratulations to Koper. They fully deserved this victory.”

Cimos coach Blaz Voncina was totally happy:

“We were in better form today and luck was on our side. We fought hard ton win.”

Portland’s top scorer was Ruesga with six goals.

Bucuresti also have a good basis for the second phase of the group matches after beating Chekhov on home court. 1 600 fans celebrated a well-deserved victory. The Romanians have four points, just as Chekhov.

“It was a surprise for us that Steaua played with so much motivation from the first minute and they scored very quickly. We made many mistakes in defence in the first half,” Chekhov’s coach Vladimir Maximov said.

Steaua player, Vionel Mazilu, hopes that both teams will qualify for the main round: “This victory is very important for us and it gives us power for the future.”

The match was very equal until 17:17. Steaua then took a four-goal lead, but Chekhov fought back. After 25:24, Steaua seemed to be able to decide the match (5-goal lead), but three minutes before the final whistle, the Russians nearly equalised again (33:32). After three minutes without a goal Steaua secured a victory and the two points in the last minute. The best scorers were Sania (Bucuresti, 9) and Dibirov (Chechov, 8).

Group F
SG Flensburg-Handewitt – ZTR Zaporozhye 38:20 (20:8)
Haukar – MKB Veszprém 27:26 (16:10)

By scoring only eight times in the first 30 minutes the Ukrainian champion didn’t have a bit of a chance in Flensburg on Thursday.

“It was obvious to anyone that the two teams are on a completely different level,” admitted the ZTR coach, Vyacheslav Didushenko. After 15 minutes the match was decided at 15:4. In the last 45 minutes Flensburg could calm down and secured a clear victory. Flensburg have four points on their account, Zaporozhye are still waiting for their first points.

Veszprém were frozen in Iceland as Haukar took a surprise victory. The Hungarians left two important points in Iceland because of a very bad start and too many technical mistakes. The team of coach Lajos Mocsai were surprised by the good start of Haukar leading 16:10 at half time. In addition, the hosts could increase the distance to a decisive 22:13 lead after the break.

Though Peric did his best to save clear chances, the rebound fell in the Icelandic hands and the hosts played on a higher speed.

After a few minutes in the second half, the Icelandic team were tired. Veszprém came closer and closer with the goals of Eklemovic and with a somewhat better defence.

With a few minutes more on the clock, the Hungarians would certainly have won, but after 60 minutes Haukar could celebrate one of the biggest Icelandic victories ever on a club level.

Freyr Brynjarsson scored eight goals for the Icelandic squad, while Nikola Eklemovic was the best Veszprém player with 9 goals. Flensburg, Veszprémand Haukar are equal now with four points each. Nothing is decided after three rounds yet.

Group G
A1 Bregenz – Montpellier HB 32:34 (15:13)
Ademar Leon – Amicitia Zürich 39:33 (18:17)

Similarly to the match against Ademar Leon, Bregenz were very close to make a sensation again. The Austrians still had the lead at halftime, but in the end they had to congratulate the French.

With the great performance of goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic, Bregenz dominated for 50 minutes. Montpelier took the lead afterwards and won the match.

“Driven by a great atmosphere, we were very close to win, but in the end we had to see that Montpellier are world class team. We were not able to take control over Guigou and Bojnovic in the decisive stage of the match. This was the reason of our defeat,” Marinovic said. Bojnovic was the best scorer of Montpellier with seven goals. Hojc hit the net 11 times for Bregenz.

Three games, three victories: this is the balance of Ademar Leon. And in the match against Zürich, the duel of two brothers was decisive. While Martin Stranovsky scored 13 times for Leon, his brother Tomas in the other team didn’t hit the net. The match was absolutely equal until the 43th minute (25:25). Ten minutes before the end, Leon were only leading by two goals (28:26) and still everything was possible.

Ademar had more energy and experience for the last minutes and they decided the match with a series of 11:6 goals. The best scorer of the guest team was Edin Basic with 9 goals.

Group H
Rhein Neckar Löwen – Wisla Plock 38:25 (20:14)
Pick Szeged - RK CO Zagreb 30:36 (14:15)

In Group H, wheat has been separated from the chaff. Szeged lost both top matches at home against Rhein Neckar Löwen and Zagreb. Now the clubs from Germany and Croatia with both 5 points, are clear favourites to reach the Main Round.

The “Lions” won their first ever CL home match very easily against the Polish champions still without a point. Gudjon Valur Sigurgsson was the top scorer with ten goals.

“We played too hectic in the very beginning,” Löwen coach Wolfgang Schwenke said, “but in the second half we found our rhythm. In the end it was a fantastic home start in the Champions League. I think, we’re on the right track.”

Zagreb won the decisive game without Ivano Balic, who suffers from a back injury. The Croatian star may even have to miss the World Championship in January because of his physical problems as he will undergo operation.

It also needs to be said that Szeged had injuries too. Playmaker Andjelkovic was missing, just as Laluska, Stamate or Nenadic. With few experienced reserve players, Szeged were tired for the second half and suffered a very similar defeat to that against Löwen a week earlier.

The Croatians were in the lead most of the time. A superb Kiril Lazarov led their attacks.

“This was our best match of the season,” coach Lino Cervar said. “I believe, this was a great step towards Main Round.”

Lazarov added: “We had patience in attack. It was a great victory for our team.”

Previous rounds

Match day 1
Match day 2

TEXT: Björn Pazen