Veszprem, Kiel and Montpellier clear winnersArticle
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Madrid and Medvedi close to fail against debutants Bjerringbro and Berlin in their openers.

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Veszprem, Kiel and Montpellier clear winners

The first round of the Group Stage is over – and all favourites took the points. As Kiel and Veszprem showed sovereign away performances, the debutants Bjerringbro-Silkeborg and Berlin have improved the quality of the VELUX EHF Champions League and surprised spectators and experts.

Group A

As RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb and FC Barcelona Intersport have won their openers more or less clearly, Kadetten Schaffhausen are the first ranking leader after their dominant away victory in Sarajevo.

Group B

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. MKB Veszprem (HUN) 25:29 (10:17)

The Wild Card Tournament winner from Poland was without a chance against MKB Veszprem. The game was already decided at the break, when the Hungarians had secured a seven goal margin thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Mirko Allilovic. Top scorers in this one-sided opener were Vujin with six goals for Veszprem and Stojkovic with nine goals for Kielce.

The Hungarians started well organized in defence and highly effective in attack – it only took 13 minutes when the distance was already 7:2. In minute 35 the 200 fans from Veszprem celebreated Mirsad Terzics as he scored the 20:10. Thanks to a 6:1 series Kielce came closer, but could not endanger the Hungarians.

Statements of the coaches:

Bogdan Wenta (Kielce): We played very good despite this clear defeat. The number of our mistakes in the decisive moments was too high, and then we could not stop the Veszprem counter attacks. We have to improve in this difficult group.

Lajos Mocsai (Veszprem): To win this opener was absolutely important for us. Our team improved rapidly from the start of the preparation and our new goalkeeper Mirko Allilovic showed a sensational performance. But we have to play even better to reach our goals, to win this group.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs. Atletico Madrid (ESP) 27:30 (16:15)

10.137 fanatic spectators in Herning nearly became witnesses of a huge sensation in the first ever VELUX EHF Champions Legaue Group match of Bjerringbro Silkeborg against the three times CL winner Atletico Madrid.

The first half was a very close affair. Madrid started better, but the Danes scored five straight goals to 10:7. Thanks to their fans Bjerringbro remained in lead at the break. Scoring six consecutive goals from 17:17 to 23:17 the Spaniards turned the game, but Bjerringbro-Silkeborg came back and was below only one goal five minutes before the end. Match winner for Atletico Madrid was goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik – but his young Danish counterpart Niklas Landin also saved extra-ordinary.

Statements of the coaches:

Talant Dujshebaev (BM Atletico Madrid): I’m very happy with the result. Every match is difficult in the VELUX EHF Champions League and especially it was today – asBjerringbro-Silkeborg played very well and was supported by this huge number of spectators. In the second half we made a great performance but it was a difficult game until the end.

Carsten Albrektsen (Bjerringbro-Silkeborg): With one eye we are smiling and with one eye we are crying. We were really close to this sensation, but in some situations we were not good enough. If we had scored some more goals in the middle of the second half we could have had a four goal lead, but in the end it was Sterbik, who snatched away the victory. I can only be satisfied with our performance. It was our first match in the VELUX EHF Champions League and this match gives hopes for the next ones.

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs. Füchse Berlin (GER) 31:31 (15:18)

The German debutant was close to their first victory in their first ever match in the VELUX EHF Champions League – but in the end the Foxes tied with the Bears as the Russians could count on their bigger international experience. Despite the draw Füchse manager Bob Hanning said: “It is great to reach a point in this lion’s den.“ Top scorer of the game was Sven-Sören Christophersen (Berlin) with nine goals.

Thanks to their stronger goalkeepers Füchse led at the break and kept this margin until the middle of the second half. In minute 47 Chekhovskie equalized for the first time at the score of 27:27 – and the game remained on eye level until the final buzzer. Berlin missed their last shot in the final second.

Group C

Three home victories in round 1: HSV Hamburg (against St. Petersburg), Orlen Wisla Plock (against Constanta) and HC Metalurg (against Koper) took their first points in their fights to proceed to the Main Round

Group D

MAHB Montpellier (FRA) vs. Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) 38:34 (19:16)

To be invincible at home was the MAHB motto for this VELUX EHF Champions League season – and the French champions started well with a victory.

Leon with former Montpellier player Adrien die Panda stood strong, but could not stop the French express in the decisive stage of the match in the middle of the second half. Montpellier started with a 5:1 series, before Leon equalized at the 15:15. When the margin were seven goals seven minutes before the end (35:28) everybody expected a clear victory, but the Spaniards fought back to 36:33, before Vid Kavticnik secured the first two points for MAHB.

Statements of the coaches:

Isidoro Martinez (Leon): We have a team with a big number of players with international standard, so we can play on a high level. But one saw this evening that Montpellier – for me a candidate for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 – punished every mistake we made. In my opinion the game was decided when we had reduced the gap to 24:26 but then lost the ball and Montpellier scored. Despite the defeat I am proud of my team.

Patrice Canayer (Montpellier): This season we started better than last year when we lost against Hamburg. I am satisfied with our performance, as the whole match – also thanks to Leon – was a spectacle with high quality with a lot of speed, goals and commitment. I am pleased about the victory but also know that we can and have to improve, especially in finding the right rhythm.

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. THW Kiel (GER) 26:38 (14:16)

After some starting problems THW Kiel gained a sovereign victory in their opener and took the lead in this tough group. Three players – Filp Jicha (8), Momir Illic and Christian Zeitz (each 7) -scored 22 of the 38 goals for the Germanrunners-up.

But the match – attended by a frenetic crowd of 3200 fans supporting Pick – was something new for THW as coach Alfred Gislason was suspended from the bench due to an EHF punishment.

Before the break both teams were on eye level, but right after the 17:15 at the start of the second half Kiel started their efficient power play, extended the margin to 25:18 and decided the game, as Pick lost power and concentration.

On Saturday Kobenhavn had – as expected – taken the points from Partizan Beograd.

TEXT: Björn Pazen