Tough victory for HSVArticle
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Hamburg win Group 1 by beating Chekhov.

Tough victory for HSV

HSV Hamburg are qualified for the Quarterfinals by winning Group I. They will follow Kiel, Ciudad Real, Flensburg and Veszprém as the third German team to the k.o stage.

Hens was a key figure at the endBut it was a really tough fight against Chechovski Medvedi to beat the “Russian bears” on home court 32:21 (16:15) and to remain unbeaten at home in the Champions League history of HSV.

As the Russians had to fight for their last chance to qualify, they were the strongest CL opponent of HSV in Hamburg this season.

“We had to give all we can for the complete 60 minutes,” HSV captain Guillaume Gille said. “In defence it felt like working as a removal man against the physically strong Chekhov players.”

The ninth victory from 10 Hamburg CL matches this season was decided only at the final whistle. HSV finish the main round with 10 points; Chekhov remain at six points.

Only if Portland lose on Saturday in Copenhagen, the Russians can reach next stage. They had won the direct encounter against Portland (six points) in the group phase.

The match was completely equal as both teams showed big fighting spirit.

“It’s always the same in the decisive matches. We don’t have any luck,” Chechovski coaching legend Vladimir Maximov said. Line player Alexander Chernoivanov added:

“Apart from bad luck, it was our defence that lost the match.”

Even as the HSV football team played German Cup game next door to the handball arena, 6,155 spectators came to see the decisive game of Group I.

Though Hamburg still misses the Lijewski brothers and play without a left handed player in back position, they started well. Blazenko Lackovic (seven goals) substituted the two Lijewskis very well.

At the beginning Hans Lindbergh – top scorer with eight goals – was the best HSV player on court. Goalkeeper Per Sandström played also well. The best Chekhov scorers were Kamanin and Igropoulo with seven goals each.

The 11:9 was fifth goal of Lindbergh, and every time HSV played with speed making counter attacks, they were successful. But Chekhov played very powerfully and goalkeeper Grams made some important saves – the Russians were in the lead all of a sudden at 13:11.

The hosts improved before the break – took a 16:15 lead and went away to 19:15 and 25:21.

“In this part of the match we missed to many clear chances to decide the game sooner,” HSV coach Martin Schwalb said. The distance decreased goal by goal and at 28:27 Chekhov had the chance to equalise.

But Pascal Hens, who scored four of his six goals in the final stage, helped Hamburg to break the resistance. 90 seconds before the end, Chipurin scored and made it 32:31 and as Lindbergh lost the ball in the next attack, Chekhov had the chance to equalize again.

But as goalkeeper Bitter saved Ivanov’s shot just 22 seconds before the end, the match was decided.

“We played quickly and this was decisive,” Lackovic said. “We reached our current objective, the quarterfinals. And it’s a great honor to belong to the eight best teams of the world. I hope that this competition will not end with the quarterfinals for us.”

And against what team Hamburg want to play in the next round?

“I don’t mind. All eight qualified teams are on a world class. It will be two tough matches,” Pascal Hens said.

TEXT: Björn Pazen