Spotless Ciudad Real beat HSV and qualify for next roundArticle
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Löwen, Montpellier and Leon win the three other Sunday matches.

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Spotless Ciudad Real beat HSV and qualify for next round

Ciudad Real has qualified for the last 16 as third team after Kiel and Barcelona. The title defender took the biggest hurdle in their group by beating HSV Hamburg for the second time this season. The Spaniards remain the only spotless team in the CL. Like them, Rhein Neckar Löwen are still unbeaten, and they’re eon the best way to last 16 after winning in Velenje. Leon and Montpellier won the other Sunday matches – and both are only one step away from the next stage of the competition.

Group A:

Pick Szeged – Montpellier HB 26:33 (15:16)

It was a tough challenge for Montpellier, but in the end, the French champion is nearly through to last 16, after winning this highly important match in Szeged. Matchwinner for Montpellier was Vid Kavticnik, who scored ten goals. Aside goalkeeper Stojinovic played an outstanding match. But in the first halftime the Hungarian defence stood very well, so that Montpellier was in lead only with a one goal difference.

But after the break the individual class of the French champion and the better efficiencyin the offence decided the match after minute 47. Montpellier is leading the table with now ten points, as Szeged remain with three points and have to hope for a little wonder in the four upcoming rounds.

Group B:

Gorenje Velenje – Rhein Neckar Löwen 29:37 (12:19)

Like Ciudad Real and THW Kiel, Löwen remain unbeaten after six matches – and they only need one point to qualify for the last 16 (like Veszprem in their group). The Germans played highly concentrated in Slovenia and took the points well deserved. Gorenje remain with two points, but still can hope for the next round, as their only one point behind fourth ranked team from Chambery. Topscorers were Gensheimer (Löwen/9) and Harmandic (Velenje/7).

Jesper Nielsen, president of the Löwen club board, was highly satisfied: “The coach has an originally signature put on this team now, the mood among the players is brilliant and we have reached a high quality in very short time.” The Germans took the lead very early and extended it from 7:2 to 19:12 at the break. After being in lead 23:14, the Löwen decelerated a bit, but the clear victory was never endangered.

“After we lost two points at the home matches against Kielce and Chambery, now we’re very happy with our base for the future”, Löwen coach Ola Lindgren said. His team extended their series of unbeaten matches in national and international competitions to 16 now.

Group C:

Ciudad Real – HSV Hamburg 30:28 (14:12)

Six matches, six victories – title holder Ciudad Real remain the most successful team in this season’s Champions League and qualified for the last 16 as third team after Kiel and Barcelona. But it was hard work in a high class match against HSV Hamburg. By the way, Ciudad extended their balance against the German to 5-1 victories in three years. Topscorers were Aginagalade (Ciudad/5) and Lijewski and Vori (HSV, each 6). The Germans had the better start and were intermediately leading with a fourgoal difference (11:7), before Ciudad took control of the match more an more and led 14:12 at the break. But the match kept being completely equal. HSV recovered quickly and took the lead again until the score of 21:20 in minute 46.

Afterwards the saves of Ciudad goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik decided the game, but HSV was close until minute 56 and the score of 26:27. Despite the second defeat against the Spaniards, HSV remain second in the group with eight points – six points ahead of fifth ranked team from Alingsas.

“Small things decided the match“, HSV coach Martin Schwalb said: „We missed some good chances in the decisive stage of the game, but I’m quite satisfied with our performance, not with the result.” For HSV player Guillaume Gille it’s “always difficult to win at Ciudad Real”. Home coach Talant Dujshebaev was satisfied with the qualification for the last 16 and expressed that “we have played against one of the biggest teams in this competition. There are always some details that help, like our goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik. I am sure that Hamburg is one of the candidates for the Final Four.” Ciudad player Julen Aginagalde hopes for another meeting of both teams at the Final Four.

Group D:

KIF Kolding – Ademar Leon 21:22 (11:12)

By winning the close match in Kolding, Leon took a great step to the last 16. They didn’t only win the direct encounter after the draw in the first match, but overtook the Danish champion in the table of their group with now seven points. Thanks to a strong performance of goalkeeper Allilovic, Leon was in lead most of the time until minute 45. Afterwards the match was like a rollercoaster ride, the lead changed constantly after Kolding had been in front for the first time.

As the host was in lead 21:19 the match seemed to be decided, but Leon fought back and Mikel Aguirrezabalaga scored the decisive goal. “We showed a great defence performance, including goalkeeper Mirko Allilovic”, Leon coach Jordi Ribera said. His team hasa great base for going on in CL now, as Leon will play three of the four upcoming matches on home soil. Due to the fact that Zurich and Skopje seem to be with no good chances for the last 16, Kolding is nearly through, too, but have to win the next match – same as the Spaniards.

TEXT: Björn Pazen