Men's Summary: Main Round Day 1Article
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Hamburg, Kiel, Ciudad Real and Chambery are the closest to qualification after the first games played in the Men's Main Round. Read the summary of the weekend.

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Men's Summary: Main Round Day 1

The teams that started the main round with a clean record remained spotless after the first round: Hamburg, Kiel, Ciudad Real and Chambery still have the maximum number of points with a good chance to reach the Quarterfinals.

Ciudad won the top clash in Barcelona – and now the host have nearly no more chance to qualify for the next stage. Zagreb surprisingly lost on home court against Chambery. Veszprém, mourning Marian Cozma, won against Leon and dedicated the victory to their murdered player.

Group I

HSV Handball - Portland San Antonio 34:23 (14:13)
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On Wednesday HSV made a great step towards the quarterfinals and have beaten Portland clearly after improving for the second half. The best players of Hamburg were goalkeeper Per Sandström and right wing Stefan Schröder. With a series of 11:2 after the break the Germans decided the match and lead Group I.

FCK Handball missed a great chance in the quarterfinal race. After a strong performance for 45 minutes against Russian champion Chekhov, the Danes lost their first main round game and remain without a point.

FCK Copenhagen – Chechovski Medvedi 33:37 (19:18)
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Chekhov have 4:2 points now and a chance to reach the next stage. Next week they’re hosting Hamburg in Russia.

Copenhagen were always in the lead until 29:29. As Chekhov improved in defence and FCK were tired, the match changed completely. With a series of 8:4, Chekhov won the match in the end. The best scorers were Anders Christensen and Tommy Atterhäll for FCK with six goals each and Mikhail Chipurin and Timur Dibirov with each seven goals for Chekhov.

Group II

Croatia Ossiguranje Zagreb – Chambery HB 30:32 (17:15)
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Zagreb seems to be a good place for French teams. Two weeks after France became World Champion in Zagreb against Croatia, Chambery won two extremely important points against CO Zagreb in the Champions league. Chambery remain spotless, while Zagreb lost a home match for the first time this season.

With six points the French team lead Group II. The Croatian champions dominated the match until the very last stage, but in the end Chambery could celebrate. After Zagreb were in the lead most of the time, Chambery equalised six minutes before the end at 28:28. Even as the host had two players more on court after Joli and Gille were suspended, Chambery scored. It was the best player of the game, world champion Daniel Narcisse.

”We missed too many chances in the second half. We can play better, but we had personal problems,” Zagreb coach Lino Cervar said and added: ”Chambery have a big advantage, we have to fight hard to win all three matches.”

For Chambery the victory was highly important, said outstanding goalkeeper Michel Robin.

RK Celje - Rhein Neckar Löwen 28:34 (14:16)
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As Rhein Neckar Löwen remain unbeaten at their first ever CL season, Celje need a miracle to qualify for the quarterfinals. The German team showed a very strong performance in front of 3,000 frenetic spectators and took a well-deserved victory.

Löwen were led by Mariusz Jurasik, who scored 11 times and Jan Filip nine.

”We played highly concentrated for 60 minutes, even as we had some problems in offence,” Löwen coach Wolfgang Schwenke said. Celje coach Tone Tiselj was disappointed:

“We knew that this match would be very hard, but not all my players showed what they’re able to do. Löwen are one of the best teams in this season’s Champions League.”

With seven goals before the break, Jurasik was the best player of the first 30 minutes – like Löwen goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal, who made some excellent saves. However, the Germans couldn’t increase their lead to more than two goals before the break.

As Jan Filip hit the net from a penalty, the Löwen were in lead with five goals for the first time by mid second half (28:23). This paved their way to the victory.

”We played on full speed in the second half, this was the key to success,” said coach Schwenke, whose team have now 4:2 points on their account. RNL kept the second place behind Chambery in Group II.

”If we win both home matches now, we have reached our objective, the quarterfinals,” manager Thorsten Storm added. Best scorer of Celje, still without a point, was the Russian Edvard Koksharov with eleven goals.

Group III

MKB Veszprém – Ademar Leon 28:26 (14:13)
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Montpellier HB – SG Flensburg-Handewitt 31:25 (13:9)
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Montpellier have beaten Flensburg and took the Germans over in the ranking with three points. The Germans now rank fourth. Both teams suffered from injuries and Flensburg travelled to France with only twelve players in the squad. Montpellier missed Wissem Hmam.

The Germans started better, but Montpellier turned the page very early by scoring five times in a row after 2:4. Flensburg came closer again – and the distance was only one goal shortly before halftime.

As Montpellier had the better defence, they went away again. The last chance for Flensburg to take one or two points was in the 40th minute when the score was 19:16 for Montpellier. But afterwards the host played more aggressively in offence and defence alike and Flensburg missed too many chances. The match was decided already by the 52nd minute when Montpellier were in the lead by 27:21.

”We have to fight until the last minute of the CL main round. At first we have to beat Leon next week,” Flensburg goalkeeper Dan Beutler said. The best scorers were World champion Michael Guigou with eight goals for Montpellier and Lars Christiansen (7) for Flensburg.

Group IV

FC Barcelona-Borges – Ciudad Real 28:31 (13:13)
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Ciudad Real marches on like a machine, while Barcelona need a “major miracle” to have a chance for the quarterfinals. In the top match of the weekend, Ciudad decided the game in the second half. The title holders need only one point for the qualification now.

Barcelona need to win all the three matches (and the game in Ciudad with a difference of more than three goals), but they have to hope that Ciudad won’t gain more point at all.

The game in Palau Blaugrana was an outstanding match on the highest international level. As it was the last chance for Barca to take the qualification in their hands, they started well. But the Ciudad defence stood like a wall and they took the lead at 8:6.

Then came Mikkel Hansen: with five consecutive goals he gave Barca back a 12:10 lead. After an equal halftime (13:13), Ciudad needed only five minutes to get ahead to 19:16 and extended their lead to 23:18.

Then Barca fought back, changed defence and scored a series of 8:2 goals. It was 26:25 eight minutes from the end. At this point Ciudad switched on the engine for the last eight minutes and ran over Barca.

The match was decided at 29:26. The best scorers were Mikkel Hansen (seven goals for Barcelona) and Siarhei Rutenka with nine goals for Ciudad.

Both goalkeepers, Hvidt (Barca, 14 saves) and Sterbik (Ciudad, 15) had a great day.

GOG Svendborg – THW Kiel 31:43 (13:19)
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Similarly to Ciudad, Kiel are heading for the Quarterfinals. The Germany need only one more point from the last three matches.

If the clubs share the points next Sunday in Kiel, both are already through to the Quarterfinals. GOG didn’t have a chance against the German champion, who speeded up after the break and ran over the Danes with counter attacks.

The saves of Thierry Omeyer and the defence made it simple for Kiel. GOG couldn’t break the wall and every lost ball was punished with quick goals.

By mid second half, Kiel coach Alfred Gislasson could even save some energy for key players as THW were in the lead with by 13 goals difference.

As the GOG defence looked like a “Swiss cheese with a lot of holes”, the Germans had no problems in keeping the difference at 12 goals in the end.

The only bad news for THW: Nikola Karabatic had to be substituted after an ankle injury in the second half Markus Ahlm (Kiel) and Petersen (GOG) scored eight goals.

TEXT: Björn Pazen