Hard work for Ciudad Real, easy day for BarcelonaArticle
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Reigning champion remain unbeaten after close victory in Zagreb and win group C, Catalans win Spanish duel in Leon and stay on top of group D. Read the Sunday’s summary.

»EHF CL Channel »2009-10 Men's CL
»Group Phase

Hard work for Ciudad Real, easy day for Barcelona

Ciudad Real remain the most successful team in this season’s Champions League. But it was hard work for the reigning champion to win 27:24 at Zagreb – for the team of coach Talant Dushebajew it was the ninth victory in the ninth match. Ciudad Real secured the first position in their group, too. Zagreb (still 12 points) remained third in this group and need to win their last match against Hamburg with at least 10 goals difference to become number two.

In group B Rhein Neckar Löwen secured the second place behind Veszprem by winning in Chambery. The French team is still equal in points with Velenje and Bosna before the last round. Mostly the direct duel Velenje – Chambery will decide the last participant of the last 16. And as Velenje need to win, for Chambery a draw is enough after the 28:24 in the first match against Velenje.

In group D Barcelona won the Spanish duel clearly and kept the lead in their group with the 37:27 in Leon one point ahead of Kiel. But Barca need to win at Kolding to remain on top, if Kiel beat Skopje.

Group B:

Chambery Savoie – Rhein Neckar Löwen 24:29 (13:12)

Thanks to a strong second half Rhein Neckar Löwen won their sixth CL match in this season. Even as they started better and led 7:3, Chambery fought hard for every centimetre to reach a better base for the “group final” in Velenje. The French team led closely at the break, but only some minutes later Löwen turned the game again – and didn’t give the lead from their hands until the end. As Uwe Gensheimer again played outstanding and Chambery missed too many chances against strong goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal, Löwen decided the game in the last ten minutes. Five minutes before the end the score was 25:21 and as Gudjonsson scored the 28:22 the winner was obvious.

"We controlled the match after the break, but we were tired. I’m highly satisfied with our performance,” Löwen coach Ola Lindgren said. For him it was something like a birthday present, as he was born on 29th of February. Top scorers were Gensheimer (9) and Roine (5). “We have one week to prepare for the Velenje match,” Chambery coach Philippe Gardent said: “We’re disappointed about the defeat, we handed over too many presents to the Löwen.” “Each of our mistakes was punished immediately,” player Gregory Detrez added.

Group C:

RK CO Zagreb – Ciudad Real 24:27 (11:15)

Final decision in the last minutes:Ciudad Real bounced, but didn’t fall in the Arena Zagreb. The Spaniards we’re close to lose their first point in this season, but in the end they were the lucky winners in a high class match – and will finish group C as number one. Ciudad dominated the match in the first 40 minutes, as the Croats couldn’t get through the strong defense. And Ciudad took every chance for their famous counter attacks, as even defense specialist Didier Dinart scored three goals by fast breaks. At the score of 20:15 for the guest, the frenetic spectators became quite a little bit, but five minutes later they were cheering and singing again, as Zagreb reduced the gap goal by goal. Ten minutes before the end the score was 19:23, and as goalkeeper Gorazd Skof improved and Zagreb avoided the counter attacks by more efficient attacks, the ice was melting. Tonci Valcic scored his fifth goal to the score of 23:24 and the arena went crazy – but Ciudad kept calm after a time out. Lazarow (top scorer with seven goals, in total CL topscorer with 69 goals) and Valcid hit the back of the net again, but as Ciudad still scored the host couldn’t equalize.

Minute 57 was the decisive one: Zagred received a suspension and a 5:5 situation was on the field, as Valcic had an ankle injury. As the chief of defense, who scored second most goals for his team, too, was out, Zagreb missed two chances against goalkeeper Jose Hombrados and received two goals by Canellas and Abalo – the match was decided 90 seconds before the end. Zagreb still has little chance to become second in their group, but the Croatsneed to beat Hamburg next Sunday with a ten goal difference after the 26:35 in the first match.

Group D:

Ademar Leon – FC Barcelona 27:37 (12:20)

Barcelona took their anger after the defeat in Liga Asobal against Ciudad Real out on Leon: By beating the Spanish opponent clearly in their hall, Barcelona remains number one in their group one point ahead of Kiel As the Leon defense stood well only in the first ten minutes, Barcelona took the clear lead very early and defended it until the end. From 12:8 and 15:10 Barca extended their lead at the break to a pre decisive score of 20:12, specially by counter attacks after Leon mistakes. The host changed their defense strategy and their offensive tactics after the break – with intermediate success, as Leon reduced the gap to 21:25, after goalkeeper Mirko Allilovic had improved. But then Barca accelerated again and after the 29:23 Leon resigned. Ademar (9 points)can become third in their group, even as they’re one point behind Kolding, but the Danes meet Barcelona and Leon is clear favourite against Zürich in the last round.

TEXT: Björn Pazen