CL Summary: quarterfinalsArticle
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One away victory, two home successes and a draw: read what's happened in the first leg of the CL quartefinals.

CL Summary: Quarterfinals

The eight top teams of Europe are nearly on the same level. This can be drawn as a conclusion from the first leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals. There was one away victory, two home successes and a draw. HSV Hamburg seems to have the best chances to qualify at this point after they won in Flensburg. Ciudad Real also have a decent advantage of five goals after the first leg against MKB Veszprém. Kiel made a draw in Zagreb and Chekhov won their first match against Rhein Neckar Löwen with two goals. The tension is still high before next weekend.

Chechovski Medvedi – Rhein Neckar Löwen 33:31 (21:15)

Medvedi's Igropulo is in great formThe bears beat the lions. However, both clubs can still hope to reach the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

The Russians could have taken substantial advantage for the return game in Karlsruhe, but they had no energy for the second half.

“The first half was a catastrophe,” Löwen coach Wolfgang Schwenke said after his team was 3:10 behind only after minute 13. Chekhov hit the net with nearly every shot and the Germans made too many “unforced errors” in offence.

But within 15 minutes Löwen fought back, as they could score a series of 12:11 until the break. After 21:15, Chekhov tried hard to keep this gap. But the German defence improved and in the offence Sigurdsson and Jurasik could not be stopped by the Russians.

“I was very satisfied with our concentration level and the speed before the break,” Chekhov coach Vladimir Maximov said. “But as the Löwen made fewer mistakes, we couldn’t play so well.”

As Löwen goalkeeper Szmal made some important saves, his team came closer to 24:23 – Chekhov only scored three times in 14 minutes.

The first equalizer came at 27:27, but Löwen couldn’t turn the match. In the very last minutes the lead of Chekhov was three goals again before Jurasik made it 33:31 with his 11th goal (the same number as Sigurdsson).

Konstantin Igropoulo was also outstanding with 10 goals.

“We have out fate in our own hands. I believe we can reach the semi-finals,” Löwen manager Thorsten Storm said.

Ciudad Real – MKB Veszprém 29:24 (15:12)

Rutenka with the ball, Ciudad with the advantageTitle holder Ciudad Real made a great step towards the semi-finals. However, they still have to be aware that a tremendous atmosphere will be waiting for them in Veszprém and the team will also have huge fighting spirit.

The match in Spain was totally equal until 11:11. Veszprém goalkeeper Dejan Peric was superb, but then Ciudad could extend their lead to 15:12 at the break.

With the fast counter attacks of Jonas Kaellman and Luc Abalo, Ciudad made it 18:13 and were on the right track to decide the game. At this point Veszprém showed their strength and scored a series of 6:1 and equalised again.

The Hungarians couldn’t take the lead at this point and after 22:21, Ciudad had more power and more alternatives for the end game.

They extended the lead to a comfortable 28:22, but in the final stage of the match Veszprém improved again and came back to five goals.

The best scorers were Rutenka (Ciudad Real) and Iváncsik (Veszprém) with each six goals.

RK Zagreb – THW Kiel 28:28 (13:12)

7,000 spectators were united behind their club, but Zagreb need to make a surprise to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. The draw means a better starting position for Kiel before the second leg on Saturday.

Not even the nine goals scored by the outstanding Zagreb pivot, Igor Vori, were enough for the hosts to win. THW goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer showed an excellent performance once again. The best scorer of Kiel was Filip Jicha with eight goals.

With a series of six consecutive goals, Zagreb went away to 7:3 before Kiel came closer to 7:6. As the German defence took better care of the CL top scorer, Kiril Lazarov, Zagreb had to look for alternatives. But on the other hand, Kiel’s left hander Kim Andersson didn’t find his rhythm and THW missed too many chances to equalise before the break.

In the second half Kiel was in lead for the first time again at 15:14 and extended the lead to 19:16 in the 41st minute. The match was totally equal again with small advantages for the Germans who had the 27:25 lead two minutes before the end – even if Nikola Karabatic had to leave the court due to a knee injury in the 50th minute.But two saves of strong goalkeeper Gorazd Skof and two goals of Tonci Valcic gave Zagreb a well-deserved draw.

Played earlier
SG Flensburg-Handewitt – HSV Hamburg 25:28 (12:14)

TEXT: Björn Pazen