Seven away victories in 12 matchesArticle
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The first match day of VELUX EHF Champions League was finalized on Sunday with a home defeat of Montpellier against Hamburg, hard work for Valladolid in Minsk and away victories for Veszprem and Celje. In total seven hosts lost their opening matches.

»EHF CL Channel »2010-11 Men's CL
»Group Phase

Seven away victories in 12 matches

Group A:

After the German teams from Kiel (35:23 against Chambery) and Rhein Neckar Löwen (31:30 in Barcelona) had won their openers on Saturday, Celje followed them by winning the crucial match in Kielce in a quite dominant way. As Kiel decided the one-sided game even in the first half thanks to their strong defense and their counter attacks Löwen had to wait until the final whistle before this sensational victory was safe thanks to the tenth goal of newcomer Ivan Cupic. Rnic and Gajic paved the way for the Slovenian victory in Poland.

The upcoming match day will be imprinted by the Top Match of the Week, the final of the 2010 VELUX EHF FINAL4 between Kiel and Barcelona. Beside the two winners of match day 1 – Celje and Löwen – will meet in Slovenia and Chambery will host Kielce.

Vive Targi Kielce – HC Celje Pivovarna Lasko 30:36 (11:18)

14 saves of goalkeeper Mirko Allilovic and in total 21 goals of Rnic (11) and Gajic (10) were the key factors of this opening victory for Celje in Poland. On the Polish side Stojkovic was the top scorer with nine goals. The only time Kielce was in lead was at the score of 1:0, afterwards Celje dominated the game. At the break the distance was seven goals but even as Kielce improved right at the start of the second half and reduced to 14:18 Celje was strong enough to keep the control of the match. The biggest difference was eight goals at the score of 28:20 – at this time everything was decided. Even four consecutive goals of Stojkovic couldn’t turn the game and the 4000 spectators were intermediately speechless.

Statements after the match:

Bogdan Wenta (coach Kielce): “We tried to prepare as good as possible. There were some moments when we had the tiny chance to revert the score, but our opponents confirmed they have a very strong team and they showed us to play a top handball.”

Zvonimir Serdarusič (coach Celje): “I’m glad that we managed to start with a victory, but it was not granted before the match. However we played a great defence and used it for counter attacks. We expected a huge comeback from the home team in the second half and they really put us under pressure. Parts of the match were quite thrilling, but our goalkeeper was perfect and took the rest of the hosts hope.”

Uroš Zorman (player Celje): “We’re happy to take two points in the first match and hope we will carry on with successful results.”

Tomasz Rosinski (player Kielce): “We didn’t fulfil the instructions given us before the match. And there are many things we have to improve. I am very sorry we didn’t reward our great fans with a victory.”

Group B:

All home teams of group B lost their starters: The official opening of their new arena was no good omen for HB Montpellier: The French Champion lost their first home match in VELUX EHF Champions League since February 2009 (against Veszprem). On the other hand the Hungarians took their first points very easy by winning in Presov – and Kolding won the Nordic duel in Sävehof.

On the second match day Hamburg again has to travel to another top team, this time Veszprem. Montpellier (against Sävehof) and Presov (against Kolding) will have their second home match in a row.

Tatran Presov – MKB Veszprem 27:35 (15:19)

Both teams know very well – and so the first 22 minutes were absolutely equal. The 4500 spectators in the City Hall saw an initially strong performance of the host, before Veszprem took the control after the 11:11 and extended the lead to 19:15 at the break. And even as Tatran fought hard for every ball Veszprem was unstoppable – thanks to their top scorers Vujin (9 goals) and Perez (7). At the score of 28:20 the game was decided 15 minutes before the end, in minute 54 Veszprem led with a ten goal difference (33:23) for the first time. Top scorer for Presov was Antl with seven goals.

IK Sävehof – KIF Kolding 30:38 (15:15)

Even as Kolding had to replace several injured players they came to a clear victory in their international season opener thanks to an enormous improvement after the break. Sävehof was a stronger opponent than expected, led 11:7in the middle of the first half- and only as the Swedes lacked power in the second half Kolding extended their lead by counter attacks and fast match play. In minute 44 the game was pre-decided, as Kolding scored the 26:19 and later-on comfortably kept the distance with eight or nine goals. Aside the Danish defense stood strong an blocked Sävehof several times – even short-handed. The race for the match’s top scorer was a duel of Jonathan Stenbäcken (Sävehof) and Lars Christiansen (Kolding):In the end Stenbäcken scored eleven times, Christiansen ten goals. For Lars Christiansen it was the first international match for KIF after facing European competitions with Flensburg for more than a decade.

Montpellier Agglomeration – HSV Hamburg 26:30 (15:12)

The Top Match of the Week was imprinted by two outstanding goalkeepers – Jogi Bitter (Hamburg) and Richard Stochl (Montpellier)- and impressive defense sides. The clash of world class was on absolute eye level in the new arena of Montpellier and was a real deli. The match was equal until the 11:10 for Montpellier, as HSV wing Torsten Jansen received a red card and the French team extended the lead to 15:11. Thanks to five consecutive goals HSV took the lead at 16:15, but couldn’t extend it clearly until the 24:21. A Montpellier time-out brought a tiny change, as the host reduced to 24:25 five minutes before the end. But then some Bitter saves brought those two important points for the Germans who decided the game at the score of 29:26. Topscorers were Nikola Karabatic (Montpellier) and Domagoj Duvnjak (Hamburg) with each six goals.

Group C:

Chechovski Medvedi (36:29 against Aalborg) and Pick Szeged (29:26 against Schaffhausen) had started with victories – on Sunday Valladolid had much more problems than expected to win at VELUX EHF Champions League debutant Dinamo Minsk – a win secured in the final stage of the match.

The Belarussians have their next chance for the first points next weekend again on home soil against Szeged, Valladolid will have the re match of the 2006 Cup Winners Cup final against Chechovski Medvedi, and in Aalborg two losers of the first match day will meet.

Dinamo Minsk – Cuatro Rayas Valladolid 30:35 (12:18)

Perfect start but a tough match for Valladolid: Thanks to their strong 5:1 defense the Spaniards stopped the Dinamo attacks in the beginning and extended the lead to 13:7, before Dinamo coach Bebeshko took his time-out – but unsuccessful, as his team was still too hectic in attack, and Valladolid played as cold as ice. The six goals difference remained until the break, but then Dinamo found their way to the goal as the Valladolid defense was not fully concentrated anymore. Thanks to five consecutive goals Dinamo equalized – frenetically supported by their fans- at the score of 23:23. But this was the end of the Belarussian dreams, as then Bilbija took the responsibility in the final stage and led Valladolid to a clear victory thanks to a 4:1 series after the 31:29. Top scorers were Kazhanevsi (6 for Minsk) and newcomer Joli (7) for Valladolid.

Statement after the match:

Sergej Bebeshko (coach Minsk): “Valladolid is a great favourite for winning our group, even ahead of Chechovski Medvedi. They’re out of reach and even have the possibility to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Now we have to grab our points in the next two decisive matches which we’ll have on home soil, too.”

Group D:

13 goals scored by Ljubo Vukic paved the way to the clear 33:23 away victory of RK Zagreb in Constanta. Three times title holder Ciudad Real had to work hard and decided the match against Flensburg only in the final stage of the match – the final result of 27:19 was much clearer as the run-down of the match. VELUX EHF Champions League debutant HC St. Petersburg won their first ever CL match against Sarajevo 32:27 – another team with hopes to reach the Main Round.

Next weekend the Russians will host Ciudad Real, Flensburg hopes for their first points against Constanta and Sarajevo will have a Balkan duel against Zagreb.

TEXT: Björn Pazen