Men’s summary: CL Main RoundArticle
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The Main Round has come to an end over the weekend and the eight teams are set for the quarterfinals. Read how the last places were decided.

»EHF CL Channel »2008-09 Men's News

Men’s summary: CL Main Round

One big surprise and two clear victories: at the end Chekhov, Zagreb and Rhein Neckar Löwen book the last three tickets in the CL quarterfinals.

Despite losing to Montpellier, Veszprém remain on top of Group 3. In the pots of today’s draw (LIVE at 18.30 and there will be four German teams and one Spanish, Russian, Hungarian and Croat.

Group I

Both teams qualified at the endHSV Hamburg – Chechovski Medvedi 32:31 (16:15)

FCK Handball – Portland San Antonio 28:27 (15:14)

The Danes made it possible for the Russians to celebrate. FCK have beaten Portland surprisingly and FCK sent Chechovski Medvedi to the quarterfinals.

Chekhov and Portland finish the group with 6 points each, but the Spanish team are eliminated because of the results from the direct encounter.

Chekhov won in the group stage 34:26 on home court and lost in Pamplona by only 27:33. FCK took their first main round points even though the team missed some of the injured players against Portland.

The match was totally balanced the whole 60 minutes; no team could increase the gap to more than two goals in the first half. After FCK were leading 15:14 at the break, Portland went away to 19:16 and seemed to have broken the Danish resistance. However, FCK players fought like lions, equalised by three consecutive goals.

It was a battle between equal forces and Portland had a great chance to equalise with just 25 seconds before the end at 28:27. A draw would have been enough for the Spanish team.

After a time-out they had the chance to score, but they lost the ball right before the final whistle. The best FCK players were Vukasin Rajkovic (six goals) and Anders Christensen (seven goals). Christian Malmagro scored nine goals for Portland. After losing in FCK, Portland is out of the competition. And surprisingly, only one Spanish team (title holder Ciudad Real) are qualified for the round of the best eight teams.

Group II

RK Zagreb – RK Celje 31:18 (14:6)

Lazarov hits the low right cornerZagreb were the first team of Group II to qualify. They have beaten Celje very clearly in a one-sided match. The Croatians took their chance to go on by winning the last three consecutive main round matches after the initial defeat against Chambery and after coach Lino Cervar had left.

The decisive factor in the clear lead at the break was a strong Zagreb defence that stood like a wall. Celje scored only six goals in the first 30 minutes. After 7:1, Zagreb dominated the match, as only wing player Eduard Koksharov showed a strong performance on the Slovenian side. In the 46th minute, Zagreb were leading by 10 goals for the first time (23:13), but the match was decided much earlier.

“After we lost against Chambery we started with a new philosophy. The players recognised what to do. We are very happy to reach the quarterfinals, but we hope not to meet Kiel or Ciudad Real there. For us it doesn’t matter if we finish the main first or second,” Zagreb coach Senjanin Maglajlija said.

Rhein Neckar Löwen – Chambery Savoie 40:25 (19:10)

The extraordinary Löwen performance brought Chambery to a bitter end. The French team were the number one in their group from the first to the last round, but then they lost the decisive match in Germany very clearly.

Winning by 15 goals gave Rhein Neckar Löwen the group victory due to a better goal difference over Zagreb and Chambery. RNL qualified as the fourth German team for the quarterfinals.

Löwen needed only a five-goal victory to finish on top of the group and they reached this gap already after 16 minutes.

Goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal was practically unbeatable and his Polish team mate Mariusz Jurasik scored 10 goals. These were only two of the many factors in the clear Löwen victory.

The Germans ran over Chambery with counter attacks in the first half and the gap was nine goals after 30 minutes. It was obvious that they would win and qualify, but whether it would be enough the become number one? Yes! As Chambery gave up after the break and knew that they were eliminated, Löwen played even more brilliantly.

“It was like handball magic,” manager Thorsten Storm said after the match. “We never expected to make such an extraordinary result,” coach Wolfgang Schwenke added.

The best scorers for Chmabery – that lost the last two (and decisive) matches against Zagreb and Löwen – were Busselier and Narcisse with five goals each.

“It’s a great feeling for a team playing their first Champions League season for the first time to win such a hard group,” Storm said. “And by playing the second leg of the quarterfinals at home, we will have a great advantage to go even further.”

Group III

Ademar Leon – SG Flensburg-Handewitt 36:32 (15:11)

As Flensburg had to miss many players of the squad due to injuries (Carlen, Christianssen, Mamelund, Muratovic, etc.), the chances of winning the group were little. Though the team was highly motivated after the Veszprém defeat a day earlier, Leon wanted to show their spectators more than in the last home match when they lost from Veszprém and were eliminated from the quarterfinals.

Until 7:6 Flensburg – in need of a draw to win the group – were equal. Ademar improved and increased the speed at that point. Especially Stranovsky and his counter attacks helped Leon to a 15:11 halftime result. And after the break the Spanish team wanted to decide the match early. They only needed three minutes to increase the gap to six goals.

But even as Mogensen was suspended for two minutes, Flensburg scores a series of 3:0 and came closer again. But as Leon hit the net to make it 27:22 in the 46th minute, the match seemed to be decided. In the last 10 minutes Flensburg missed too many chances and lost. Now Flensburg will meet a German team in the quarterfinals – which one will be up to the draw today.

MKB Veszprém – HB Montpellier 22:23 (11:10)

Veszprém qualified already before the game. However, they missed a great chance to secure the first place as they lost at home to Montpellier.

The French could play without pressure at the last CL game of the season and a few of their stars (Bojinovic, Hmam and others) were missing.

The match was completely close. The Hungarians were leading at halftime, but they could not take a significant lead after the break. The French side fought very well and the young French players were highly motivated.

The final decision came from an overtime 7-m shot converted by the French.

The best scorer of Montpelier was William Accambray with 8 goals, while Ferenc Ilyés scored five for Veszprém.

“You can see in the main round that the best teams of the Champions League are very close to each other. This will not change in the quarterfinals,” Veszprém coach Lajos Mocsai said.

Group IV

Ciudad Real – THW Kiel 35:33 (18:18)

Title holder Ciudad Real won the re-match of CL Final from last season, THW Kiel won the group. In a high class and very quick game, the Spanish champion took the points, but due to a better goal difference from the direct encounters Kiel finished first in the group.

“It doesn’t matter for me whether we finish first or second,” Ciudad coach Talant Dujshebaev said. “The most important thing is that we qualified for the quarterfinals in this ‘group of horror’.”

THW coach Alfred Gislasson was also satisfied:

“We played a great match when lot of our players were ill or injured.” For his team a great series ended in Ciudad Real. In the 36th official match of the season (excluding the Champions Trophy semi-final) it was the first defeat for the Germans. They made 22 victories and a draw in the Bundesliga, three victories in the German Cup and nine victories in Champions League before.

The match was imprinted again by the strong goalkeeper performance of THW’s Thierry Omeyer. The Frenchman saved 18 shots. Kiel found the rhythm after Ciudad started better – even as they missed players such as Olafur Stefansson, Didier Dinart, Alberto Entrerrios or Rolando Urios.

Kiel were leading 11:9 and Ciudad could equalised again until halftime. 10 very weak minutes of Ciudad brought Kiel to a three-goal difference. “But then we showed a great moral and fighting spirit,” Dujshebaev said.

The Spanish champion went away with one goal and then Kiel were in the lead again at 31:30 for the last time.

The match was decided when goalkeeper Jose Hombrados saved two Kiel shot in the very last minute when his team were in the lead at 34:33.

The best scorers were Siarhei Rutenka (Ciudad/6) and Nikola Karbatic and Dominik Klein with seven goals for Kiel each. Both coaches hope to meet again:

“Maybe we’ll meet in the finals,” Alfred Gislasson said.

GOG Svendborg - FC Barcelona-Borges 29:35 (17:18)

Barcelona finished their international season with an away victory. As the Catalonians had been eliminated before, winning in Denmark was not so important. Barca started with a 6:2, and then improved their defence, especially as goalkeeper Barufet made important saves and pivot Jesper Noddesbö played a brilliant game.

It was a close game until halftime, but then the international experience and the individual class showed. GOG kept up until 27:29, but then they were short of energy and Barcelona went away to 32:28. The final result was 35:29.

The best scorers were Noddesbö and Nagy for Barcelona and Meijer for GOG – all scored six goals. The CL record winner (last seasons semi-finalist) finishes the group with 4 points, GOG remain without one.

TEXT: Björn Pazen