Men’s CL summary: Round 4Article
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Ten teams are already qualified for the Main Round. Read the happenings of a decisive round.

»EHF CL Channel »2008-09 Men's News

Men’s summary: Round 4

Ten teams are already qualified for the Main Round after Round 4 of the Men’s EHF Champions League Group Phase.

In Group A (Chambery and Celje), Group C (Kiel and Barcelona), Group G (Leon and Montpellier) and Group H (Löwen and Zagreb) both qualifying teams are known. In addition, Hamburg and Ciudad Real also reached the next stage. The highest tension is in Group E and F where still three teams can go on.

Group A
Hammarby IF – Celje Pivovarna Lasko 27:31 (13:18)
Chambery HB – Granitas Karys 34:21 (17:13)

The spotless clubs, Chambery and runner-up Celje are already qualified for the Main Round. Even if Celje lose both upcoming games and Hammarby win both, the Slovenian champion would win the direct encounter clearly after this victory in Sweden. By beating Chambery with a difference of more than seven goals next Sunday, Celje even can finish on top of Group A.

Celje’s match in Hammarby was imprinted by two strong goalkeepers (Astrom and Lapajne). After an equal start, the Slovenians went away and took a comfortable 5-goal lead at half-time. When it was seven goals (31:24) in the final stage, Hammarby could only come closer to make it more acceptable at the end. The best scorers were Baverud and Johansson (5) for Hammarby and Kokscharov and Gorensik (4) for Celje.

With the 9 goals of Daniel Narcisse, Chambery have beaten Karys (still without a point) very clearly. At halftime it looked very close, but the six goals in a row after the 40th minute Chambery decided the match at 28:17. At this point Karys gave up and the French team increased the distance from minute to minute.

“Now we want to win in Celje and keep our clean record,” Chambery coach Philippe Gardent said after the match. “However, statistics are against us. Only four teams could ever win in Celje out of 47 European Cup matches. But those two points would be highly important in the Main Round.”

Group B
Bosna Sarajevo – Ciudad Real 21:34 (11:16)
GOG Svendborg – AEK Doukas 29:21 (18:11)

Ciudad march through the group very confidently. With the fourth clear victory in a row the title holders are already through to the Main Round. Bosna have to hope for a victory against Svendborg, and that the Danes lose against Ciudad. In this case Sarajevo can reach the next stage. But at the minute the Danish team have the better chances to go with the Spanish team.

Until 8:7 Sarajevo were equal to Ciudad, but with a series of 9:3 the Spanish team practically decided the match at halftime. Even as Bosna goalkeeper Grahovac saved 16 shots, his team didn’t have a chance against Ciudad. The guests increased the gap to ten goals for the first time at 26:16. The best scorer for Ciudad was Slovenian Ales Pajovic with eight goals, as three Bosna players scored three goals each.

GOG made a great step towards the main round, but showed no perfect performance against Doukas that remain without a point. Starting well, the Danish team didn’t play as quickly as before and after 18:11 at half-time the remaining time was nearly equal (11:10 in the 2nd half).

Group C
THW Kiel – Drammen HK 40:28 (18:13)
Metalurg Skopje – Barcelona Borges 22:29 (14:17)

The great favourite Kiel and Barcelona will go on to the Main Round. The first place of the group will be decided in the very last match when Barcelona will play in Kiel.

THW didn’t have any problem against Drammen, but only showed a glimpse of glamour on Wednesday evening. The best scorer was Markus Ahlm with eight goals. Kiel increased the speed, the power and the distance only in second halftime.

5 000 spectators in Skopje were hoping to see a big sensation, but Barcelona were too strong for Metalurg like in the first match of the two teams. The game was equal until 6:6 before Barcelona took control and were leading 15:11. The last chance for Skopje to turn the match was at 17:18. After that the guests had their best phase. Barcelona’s Danish international Mikkel Hansen was the key player with nine goals for FCB and his great performance decided the game already at 23:18 – the point of no return for Metalurg.

“Skopje played very well for 40 minutes, but then they collapsed and we managed to play our game,” Barcelona coach Manolo Cadenas said afterwards.

“Barcelona were physically stronger than us. Now we want to take our chance to beat Drammen and stay in the European Cup,” said Zvonko Shundovski, Metalurg coach.

The top scorer for his team was Stanojevic with eight goals.

Group D
HSV Hamburg – FCK Copenhagen 29:27 (13:15)
Red Star Belgrade – Tatran Presov 27:31 (11:15)

As Hamburg are already qualified for the Main Round, there’ll be a hard fight for the second place of the group. FCK and Presov both have 4 points – and will meet on the last match day in Copenhagen. After their fourth defeat, Belgrade are out of the race.

Hamburg are through – and most probably as number one in the group. But it was hard work for the Germans against FCK. The Danes were already in a 7-goal lead by the middle of the second half. Thanks to the goalkeeper Per Sandstöm and to the seven goals of Torsten Jansen, HSV managed to win this tense match.

By winning the second time against Belgrade, Presov are qualified for at least the Cup Winners’ Cup. They still have the chance to reach the CL Main Round in case of a good performance against Hamburg and in Copenhagen.

Tatran was in lead nearly all the time in Belgrade, but could not decide the match in the hot atmosphere earlier than in the last ten minutes.

Group E
Portland San Antonio – Chechovski Medvedi 33:27 (16:12)
Cimos Koper – Steaua Bucuresti 29:30 (13:15)

Everything is open in Group E, only Koper are out of the race for the Main Round. Steaua can still reach the next stage, in addition, they lead Group E surprisingly after four rounds with six points. After Steaua won in Slovenia, they have to play against Chechov and Portland in the last two rounds. The Romanians will need one more miracle to qualify for the Main Round. Portland survived by beating Chekhov who have now the same number of points (4) as the Spanish team.

Steaua showed a strong defence in Koper – the key to this victory. After the 4:3 for the hosts, the Romanians took the lead and kept it until the end, though Koper had the chance to turn the page in the very last minutes.

After 15:13 at half-time, Steaua increased the distance to 23:17 (45th min). Then Cimos tried everything to win, but the Steaua goalkeeper Ivezic was unbeatable.

“For the first time ever a Romanian team can reach the Main Round. We hope we can get through,” Steaua coach Bozo Rudis said. He reminded: “The match was great advertisement for handball in a great atmosphere.”

Portland were able to overcome the humiliating defeat in the Liga Asobal against Ciudad Real during the week and showed their power again . The Spanish team still have the chance to reach the main round. However, by winning the match against Chekhov only by six goals, they lost the direct encounter after an eight goal defeat in Russia. This may be important if the two teams finish with the same number of points.

Chekhov were in the lead until 6:5, but Portland improved. Even as Kamanin scored eight times, the Russians couldn’t take the lead again until the final whistle. The last time the match close was at 28:24, but then Portland increased the distance again.

The best scorer of the team was Nikcevic with seven goals.

“We are very happy now as we still have a chance to go on. But due to the situation in the group we have to win in Bucharest now. This will be very hard,” Portland coach Chechu Villadea admitted.

Group F
MKB Veszprém – ZTR Zaporozhye 33:22 (16:12)
Haukar – SG Flensburg-Handewitt 25:34 (15:14)

As both favourites won their matches, Veszprém and Flensburg have still the best chances to reach the next stage with each six points. They will meet next Sunday in Flensburg.

As Zaporozhye (still without a point) is out, Haukar (4 points) have some hope to reach the main round – but to reach this objective they have to win in Veszprém.

Veszprém had an easy job against the Ukrainians at the end. However, it was only after the 40th minute the 5 000 spectators could start to celebrate.

As Zaporozhye fought hard for their last chance to reach the CWC place from the group, Veszprém couldn’t get rid of them until 18:16. But with a series of 9:1 goals in a row the Hungarians decided the match.

Ilyés and Vujin scored each eight times for Veszprém and replaced well Gulyás, Eklemovic and Bagaric who were missing. Burka and Gurkovsky were the best scorers for Zaporozhye with each five goals.

With a strong performance in the second half Flensburg made a big step towards Main Round. “I’m happy with the second 30 minutes, not with the first half,” coach Kent-Harry Andersson said. His team was behind 14:15 at the break.

The Germans took the lead for the first time in the 36th minute and the “SG express” ran over the Icelandic champions. Within 11 minutes the difference was ten goals (30:20) for Flensburg. Hansen and Mogensen (Flensburg) and Sveinsson (Haukar) were the best scorers of the game with eight goals.

“If we would have started like we finished the match, Haukar wouldn’t have had the lead at half-time,” Flensburg’s winger Lars Christianssen said. “Now we have to beat Veszprém with more than a goal and we then go to the Main Round as number one of our group,” he added.

Group G
Amicitia Zürich – HB Montpellier 27:28 (15:12)
Ademar Leon – A1 Bregenz 37:26 (17:15)

Ademar Leon, winning their fourth match in a row, and Montpellier HB (6 points) are going on to the Main Round after victories on Sunday. Even if Zürich (2 points) would win both matches and Montpellier lose both, the direct encounter would be in favour of the French team, the very lucky winners in Switzerland.

It’s always the same for Zürich: as they did it the match against Leon, the Swiss champions played an outstanding first 45 minutes and the opponent celebrated in the end.

In the 40th minute Amicitia were leading by eight goals. When they were getting tired Montpellier came closer and closer and turned the match in the very last minutes.Even eight goals from Andy Schmidt weren’t enough to get at least a point.

“Now we have to concentrate on the match in Bregenz to reach the CWC,” Frank Löke said after scoring four goals. The best player of Montpellier was their goalkeeper Karaboue and the national player Guigou.

In contrast to Montpellier, Leon had an easy afternoon. Bregenz lost their fourth match in a row. This time they were only equal for 40 minutes when it was only 23:20. After that the Spanish, led by top scorer Damir Bicancic (7 goals), went away to 30:23. In the end the Austrians lost with a nine goal difference.

“This result is too much for us as we were equal until 20 minutes before the end. But Leon was fully deserved to win,” Bregenz goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic said. The best scorer of Bregenz was Mane Hojc with seven goals.

Group H
Wisla Plock – RK CO Zagreb 24:27 (12:16)
Rhein Neckar Löwen – Pick Szeged 35:28 (15:13)

Zagreb and Rhein Neckar Löwen are qualified for the main round. The winner of Group H will be known on Thursday probably when the two teams will meet in Germany for a duel.

Zagreb and Löwen keep on winning and they collected the points this weekend too. The two sides have overcome Plock and Szeged with good performances in the second half-times.

Plock were close until 20:20 when they could equalise a 19:15 Zagreb lead. After this point the Croatians (still without Ivano Balic) scored five without receiving a goal and paved their way to a victory and to the main round.

“I’m very happy about this victory, but not with the way we played,” Zagreb coach Lino Cervar said. “In most parts of the game we weren’t focused enough,” he added.

Plock coach Bogdan Kowalczyk said:

“This was our best match in this Champions League season. But in the decisive stage we made too many mistakes. Maybe my players were afraid to win.”

Best scorers were Vitalij Nat (Plock) with six goals and Kiril Lazarov with eight.

Rhein Neckar Löwen played a similar game: Szeged stood well until the last 15 minutes, but the “Lions” could secure a clear victory.

“I think the result is too clear. Szeged were not seven goals worse,” Löwen player Oliver Roggisch said.

His team could count on the “Polish armada” (Bielecki, Tkaczyk and Jurasik, all together 16 goals) and the “Iceland Express” Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson.

The 1 800 spectators saw an interesting duel of two strong goalkeepers – won by Henning Fritz (Löwen) against Nenad Puljezevic (Szeged). The Hungarians missed a lot of key players such as Balázs Laluska, but were led by the strong right back Krivokapic.

The best scorer for Szeged, with only two points now and without a chance to go on, was Petrea with 7 goals. It took 45 minute for Löwen to decide the game with a four-goal lead.

“Now we only have one objective: we want to beat Zagreb and finish number one in our group,” line player Christian Schwarzer said.

TEXT: Björn Pazen