Second half magicArticle
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Hamburg beat Portland 34:23 and need only one more victory to qualify for the quarterfinals.

Second half magic

“I had to say a lot of different things in the cabin and I think, my players understood what I told them.” Martin Schwalb, coach of HSV Hamburg, spoke of the two completely different halftimes of the first CL main round match against Portland San Antonio.

Schröder on his way to the goalThe 6,881 spectators in the Color Line Arena saw a first half without highlights, but after the break HSV really overran the Spanish opponent.

“We were tired and we had too many injured players, so we could not give more than this,” Chechu Villaldea Portland coach said.

Until the 30th minute his team played concentrated, but HSV made too many mistakes to take a clear lead.

“It was our first match for months and it took a while until we knew what to do. We showed two faces today,” pivot Bertrand Gille said. He scored seven goals and was an important defence element.

It took only six minutes after the 14:13 at halftime for Hamburg (Torsten Jansen scored four times in the first ten minutes) to bring the host to a decisive lead.

“Hamburg had much more alternatives, this was the great difference,” Portland player Josef Masachs said.

And those were the 30 magic minutes of Stefan Schröder. Before the break he scored twice, but then he hit the net three times in a row to bring his team to 18:14. Another decisive factor was the changing of the goalkeeper from Johannes Bitter to Per Sandström.

“With his saves he gave us the self assurance we needed. He played brilliantly,” HSV’s Croat Blazenko Lackovic said.

The right wing celebrating a big performancePortland missed one chance after the other – mostly against Sandström, and then one HSV counter attack followed the next. By scoring a series of 12:4 goals in between 13 minutes Hamburg extended the lead to 26:16 – the early decision in a match that was one totally sided in second halftime. The biggest gap was 13 goals – in the end Portland, led by their top scorer Christian Malmagro (8 goals), came closer just a bit.

But the big match winner was right winger Stefan Schröder with his eight goals. “I couldn’t have played so well if my team wouldn’t have helped me,” he said.

In the end Martin Schwalb was satisfied:

“We played well, as we had good alternatives on the bench. You can’t play much better as we did in the second halftime.”

With this victory HSV conserved two series: at first, they won their seventh match in the seventh game in this Champions League season and now they won all their eleven home matches ever played in the CL since autumn 2007.

And they only need one more victory in the next match in Chechov to qualify for the quarterfinals.

“But we shouldn’t talk about the quarterfinals yet. We want to win every match and if we don’t have respect for all the opponents we can lose our very good basis with six points very quickly. And as you can earn some money with every point in the CL, we should fight for every point,” HSV president Andreas Rudolph said.

Lackovic added: “We can take the word ‘quarterfinal’ on our mouth when we have reached it. Not a second earlier.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen