Zebras bite and beat the LionsArticle
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Kiel win first German duel, Zagreb defeated in Flensburg and Chambery remain the surprise team – summary of Sunday’s matches of Round 5.

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»Group Phase

Zebras bite and beat the Lions

It's half-time in the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League – and in Groups C and D, three teams are on the way to the last 16.

Groups A and B are full of tension with chances for several teams (A) or a fight between four teams for the best positions (B).

Veszprém remain the only team to have won all matches, and still unbeaten are Ciudad Real, Kiel and Valladolid. Zagreb, Chekhovski Medvedi and Rhein Neckar Löwen received their first defeats of this season in Round 5. Chambery remain the surprise team in 'hammer Group A' with their third victory.

All will be revealed soon – as the re-matches will be played next weekend.

Group A:

Chambery Savoie – RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko 30:24 (13:11)

Bosnian Edin Basić was the match winner for the French runners-up against Celje.

His ten goals, coupled with the saves of Bosnian goalkeeper Grahovać, secured third position for Chambery ahead of Barcelona and topped only by Kiel and Löwen.

For Chambery it was the second consecutive victory after beating Barcelona. Celje could not profit from the arrival of their new coach Miro Požun and remain on only two points – three points below fourth place, which is the gate to the last 16.

Celje had to solve some personnel problems, as Zorman, Koksharov and Gajić had to be replaced due to injuries. Požun had to tender his green card as early as the 7th minute as Chambery started with an impressive 5:0 series. Then the Slovenians woke up and reduced the gap to just one goal.

After the break, the host was very lucky as Celje failed three times from the penalty line – all three of them would have been equalizers, but instead, Chambery extended their lead.

In the final stages, Basić showed his strength and nearly decided the game on his own at 28:22. Best Celje scorer was Poklar with five goals.

THW Kiel – Rhein Neckar Löwen 30:27 (17:9)

The Lions cannot capture the Zebra fortress, either in the VELUX EHF Champions League, or in the Bundesliga.

Despite the quite close final result the match was mostly one-sided.

Kiel overran the German opponent in the starting phase 13:6 thanks to the saves of world-class goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer and the outstanding Filip Jicha, in total with nine goals.

That lead was extended after the break (17:9), up to nine goals.

In the 50th minute when everything seemed to be decided, Kiel decelerated and lost some power due to injury and some missing back court players.

Löwen fought hard for a better result and came close to two goals – but the more experienced THW took control again to remain unbeaten in this season, as Löwen took their first defeat to rank below Kiel (on 9 points) with just 7 points.

Top scorers for the Löwen were Gensheimer and Myrhol, each with seven goals.

Group B:

IK Sävehof – MKB Veszprém 31:41 (15:22)

Ten points from five matches – MKB Veszprém is still the overall primus in the VELUX EHF Champions League with the optimum of ten points and the lead of group B, four points ahead of Montpellier, Kolding and Hamburg.

Even without the injured key players Nikola Eklemovic and goalkeeper Dejan Perić, the Hungarians – supported by 100 fans in Sweden – did not have any problems.

After 13:6 the spectators saw a match full of speed, goals and Veszprém dominance.

But right after the break the victory was briefly threatened, as Sävehof reduced the gap from 15:22 to 22:24.

But then, as Veszprém changed their defensive tactics, they went clear again with a final result of 41:31.

Statements after the match:

Mikael Franzèn, coach Sävehof: "Veszprém is a very good team, and even though we tried everything to stop them it was impossible. In the end we were tired – and the guest took full advantage of this fact."

Lajos Mocsai, coach Veszprém: "We were not surprised that Sävehof was highly motivated in this game. I'm not completely satisfied, as the home team had a strong period when they caught up to us. Fortunately we improved from the middle of the second half onwards."

Group C:

Aab Handball – Cuatro Rayas Valladolid 32:36 (14:17)

Valladolid returned to the top of the ranking: After the surprising home defeat of Chekhovski Medvedi against Szeged the still unbeaten Spaniards took the advantage and a well deserved away victory in Denmark.

Aalborg started better and led 9:7, but after 13:12 Valladolid turned the page for the first time with a 4:0 series to make it 16:13.

This gap remained until the break, thanks to some important saves from goalkeeper Svenson.

The greater international experience and their individual class then brought the Spaniards onto the winner’s way.

In the 48th minute the game was decided at the score of 29:22.

Best Valladolid player was Oscar Perales, who scored six goals, as did Guillaume Joli.

Top scorer of the game was Norwegian Kristian Kjelling with seven goals for Aab. Despite the defeat, the host remains in fourth position with three points.

Group D:

SG Flensburg-Handewitt – RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb 32:29 (19:15)

A perfect international debut for new Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes: By beating main concurrent Zagreb the Germans made a great step towards a good position for the last 16, having collected eight points, one point below the top-ranked team of Ciudad Real.

For Zagreb it was the first defeat in the current VELUX EHF Champions League season.

Flensburg started well and extended their lead to 15:10 very early on.

As the Croats changed their tactics the gap decreased.

Thanks to three straight goals after the break Flensburg went away to 22:15 – but Zagreb didn't give up and reduced the gap to 25:23 and 28:26.

It was the last stand of the Croats though, as Flensburg then decided the game. Top scorers were Horvat with nine goals for Zagreb and Mogensen with eight for Flensburg.

Now Zagreb hope for an improvement and the support of their spectators next weekend to win the direct duel against SG.

TEXT: Björn Pazen