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The Spanish title holder Ciudad Real win in Hamburg by 30:29.

Equal forces

HSV fought until the end, but after the first leg of the semi-finals Ciudad Real have the betterchances to go on to the finals. The Spanish title holder won a high quality game in Hamburg by 30:29 (12:13) and only need a draw at home on Saturday to reach the final stage for the second consecutive time.

Dinart and Gille - French stars against each otherThe match in Hamburg – just as tense as last season in the Color Line Arena – saw three extraordinary goalkeepers. HSV’s Johannes Bitter saved 15 shots before the break, his team mate Per Sandstöm brought Hamburg back into the game after the break, and Ciudad’s goalkeeper Árpád Sterbik was key for the Spanish to turn the match around after the first 20 minutes.

Hamburg starter well and ran over Ciudad at the very beginning. More than 10,000 spectators went crazy as the Germans were leading 11:5 in the 15th minute. Ciudad didn’t find means to stop them, but then came Sterbik.

The saves of the Ciudad goalkeeper broke the rhythm of HSV. The Germans, missing their defence specialist Dimitri Torgavanov, lost control over the game. By missing too many chances, Ciudad came closer goal by goal. The inspiration of Olafur Stefansson and the goals of Siarhei Rutenka drove the team. It only took 14 minutes to equalise at 12:12. Even as Hamburg was leading 13:12 at the break, it was obvious that Ciudad took control of the match.

HSV were baffled by the variations of the Spanish attacking play and couldn’t score against Sterbik. The Spanish defence was particularly strong and the hosts made several technical mistakes and wrong shots. The match seemed to be decided as Ciudad went away to 22:17 in the 40th minute.

The effort of Hens wasn't enoughHowever, HSV showed a great moral, came back and equalised. They even took back the lead at 26:25 as the spectators stood behind their team. On the other hand, Ciudad remained cool and with the experience they did not lose the rhythm of their game.

In the last six minutes they took the lead again, but the last of his six goals, Hans Lindberg (HSV’s top scorer) reduced the gap to one goal in the last minute. Rutenka and Alberto Entrerrios scored six goals each for Ciudad.

As the Spaniards are unbeaten in the Champions League since the first leg of last season’s final against Kiel, they have the better chance now. At the same time, Hamburg are still eager to reach the Final.

For HSV – previously unbeaten at home for 19 month –, this was the second consecutive home defeat in the Champions League after losing to Flensburg in the quarterfinals. Nevertheless, their hopes are still alive.

TEXT: Björn Pazen