Lucky Ciudad Real, Minsk surprise KadettenArticle
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First away victory for the Belarusian champions, Spaniards qualified for the Last 16.

Lucky Ciudad Real, Minsk surprise Kadetten

One expected result, one big surprise – this is the outcome of the two postponed matches on Wednesday evening, which opened the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2011. The 32:27 win of Renovalia Ciudad Real against St. Petersburg was closer than expected, but confirmed most expert's thoughts on the outcome of that game. The 35:30 away victory of Dinamo Minsk in Winterthur against Schaffhausen however was a real surprise.

Group C

Kadetten Schaffhausen – Dinamo Minsk 30:35 (12:18)

For the first time in their club history Minsk have won an away match in the VELUX EHF Men's Champions League – and now the Belarusians can hope for the Last 16 again. Having four points on their account (the same as Aalborg), Minsk is only one point behind Kadetten. This gives high tension to the last three match days.

Schaffhausen – eager to win this crucial postponed match in order to make a huge step towards the Last 16 – couldn’t find their rhythm all over the match. Their strongest period was in the last 13 minutes, when the match already was decided. Right from the starting whistle on the Swiss champions had enormous problems in attack, while Minsk did not find too much resistance in the Swiss defence. Already at the break the margin was six goals.

But it came even worse for Kadetten: after a 7:0 series, Minsk led 25:15 within only six minutes. The game was decided, at latest when the score was 30:15 for Minsk in minute 45, a little disaster for Schaffhausen. But as the Swiss champion improved and Minsk – knowing well that they had secured two points in their pockets – decelerated, the Belarusian lead decreased to 22:32 eight minutes before the end. The margin after 60 minutes was only five goals, but the Swiss catch-up chase had come to late.

Group D

Renovalia Ciudad Real – St. Petersburg HC 32:27 (12:13)

It was no “intergalactic” performance of Renovalia Ciudad Real, but in the end the Spaniards managed to take the expected two points against St. Petersburg in this postponed match. Therefore they are now qualified for the Last 16 and the only unbeaten team of the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League with now 13 points.

The Spanish and French stars from the World Championships had already received one lesson in reality last weekend in the ASOBAL league when Antequerra drew some blood from many of the medallists from Malmö and brought them back to earth. Renovalia Ciudad Real managed to win that match but the cramp in their play persisted in the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League. With Hombrados in the goal they answered to St. Petersburg scoring the first goal of the match with an early 5:3 lead. After that they failed to shake off the nervousness and made a thriller out of a match which should have been a compulsory dance for them.

Unexpectedly the Russians were leading by one goal almost over all of first half, and it could have been even more. In the last minute before the break the guests jumped to 13-11 and had possession. St. Petersburg coach Dmitri Torgowanow took his time to plan an attack which would give his team a promising three goals advantage for the second half. But his players failed to fulfil his orders, lost the ball and Renovalia Ciudad Real came back to one goal instead.

The home team’s struggle continued after the break when Pyshkin arranged a 17:16 lead in minute 41. But two minutes later the latest addition to Renovalia Ciudad Real, Olexandr Shevelev, emerged as the director of the turning point and became top scorer with five goals. The newcomer in his debut for the Spanish club not only scored by breaking through the tough defence and levelled the score to 20:20, but also managed to get a suspension for the Russians.

The one-man advantage provided the needed space for deeper breath of the home team - and David Davis send Renovalia Ciudad Real to the lead. He added two more straight goals until Torgovanow had to use his time out to stop the avalanche in the minute 44. The home team jumped to a commanding lead five minutes before the end (30-24) but had to earn his two points with really hard work. Thanks to that they could celebrate not only the victory but the secured place in the Last 16.

Statements after the match

Dimitry Torgovanov, coach St. Petersburg: “Congratulations to Ciudad Real for the win. We tried to do our best but my team is young and we were tired in the second half. We expect to improve our play for the upcoming matches.”

Alexey Kostykov, player St. Petersburg: "We have to improve our play as we are a young team. We try to do all but in the second half Ciudad Real goalkeeper Sterbik showed his best.”

Talant Dujshebaev, coach Renovalia Ciudad Real: “We are happy with the two points but we need more time to improve. I have twelve players who returned from the World Championship in my team and is very difficult to adapt now to our play.”

Olexandr Shevelev, player Renovalia Ciudad Real: “I’m happy because I played in the Don Quijote Arena for the first time as a player of the home team but I need to improve a lot and learn the language.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen