Leon celebrate last second goalArticle
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Spaniards tie with Kiel, Barca win thriller at Zagreb and Veszprem bring crisis to the Bears, as Chambery remain unbeaten on home ground on Saturday.

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Leon celebrate last second goal

Round 4 of the VELKUX EHF Champions League continued with three thrillers on highest level: A direct free throw after the final whistle brought a draw to Leon, Barcelona was the lucky winner in Zagreb and Veszprem had to thank a 40 year old player for their victory against Chekhovski Medvedi.

Group A:

After Sävehof had taken their first points on Thursday the four top ranked teams met in two direct duels. FC Barcelona Intersport is the first team to win their fourth straight match and Chambery Savoie remain on the hunt with now six points.

Chambery Savoie (FRA) – Kadetten Schaffhausen 33:29 (18:16)

Due to this victory and the Zagreb defeat against Barcelona, Chambery are equal in points with the Croats and made a huge step towards the Last 16, as they are already four points ahead of Schaffhausen and Sävehof. For the third straight time a good match did not bring any point for the Kadetten, who remain with two points.

The match was absolutely equal until the 12:12, before the French runners-up extended the gap to 18:16 at the break. Even in the second half Kadetten were close with the host. Eight minutes before the end still both teams could take both points at the score of 27:26, but then Chambery had the stronger will and defence in the final stage of this game on eye level.

Thanks to the goals of Barachet and Detrez and three important saves of Dumoulin, Chambery took those highly important points.

RK CO Zagreb (CRO) – FC Barcelona Intersport 30:31 (14:13)

First defeat for Zagreb, lucky fourth victory for Barcelona: The high class match of two top teams was open until the final second, but the Croats missed a draw in the last attack after a misunderstanding of Balic and Kopljar.

The fully pack arena Zagreb meant a great audience for this great match. The first half was equal with constantly changing leads. At halftime Zagreb was in lead with a one goal margin, but both teams were on the same high level.

But after the break Barcelona’s Bosnian goalkeeper Danijel Saric (in total 16 saves) showed his world class – he was the key factor that the Catalans were still in the match and were leading most of the time with a low margin.

After the 24:24 Barcelona steadily took the lead, as Zagreb equalized in their next attack. Two minutes before the end Barca went on the winner’s way as they were away with 31:28. But after goals of top scorer Horvat (in total ten hits) and Kopljar the game became a nail-biting thriller again. Barcelona missed their last attack, but with the final buzzer Zagreb failed, too. Best Barcelona scorers were Rutenka with seven, and Nagy and Garcia with each six goals.

The whole game had been a tribute to Iztok Puc, who had died of cancer at the age of 45 on Wednesday. The former Zagreb player was honoured by the spectators for minutes.

MKB Veszprem (HUN) – Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) 24:22 (10:10)

Veszprem is back on trackafter the defeat in Madrid, as the situation for the Russian champions is getting tougher as they still do not have a victory on their account and remain with only two points after four matches.

But it was really tough work for the Hungarians to remain with a clean spot on home soil. Chekhovskie had the better start with a 7:3 lead in minute 15 as their defence stood like a rock.

As their top scorer Marko Vujin was defended very tough, Veszprem needed some time to find their rhythm. Even as they had equalized at the break the Russian took back the lead in the second half at 17:15.

But then the great show of Carlos Perez (40) started, who became top scorer of the game with seven goals like Sergej Shelmenko of Medvedi.

The hall went crazy when first Perez equalized and then Gergö Ivancsik scored the 22:21. Veszprem- now with six points on their account - did not give the lead from their hands in the high tensioned final minutes.

Statements after the match:

Lajos Mocsai (coach Veszprem):  Two very well trained teams met in a close but great match. In the end we were the fortunate one thanks to Carlos Perez against a strong fighting Russian team. I am happy that we were able to win against a team with such qualities.

Vladimir Maximov (coach Medvedi): We had a good chance to win, but we lost, as we made too many mistakes in attack. Another factor was the 40 year old handball diamond Perez against whom we did not know what to do. We will fight until the last moment to reach the Last 16.

Group D:

Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) – THW Kiel (GER) 28:28 (12:15)

Carlos Ruesga was the Leon hero on Saturday. By scoring with a direct free throw after the final buzzer he secured a draw to his brave fighting lions. THW Kiel was in lead most of the match, but missed too many chances after the break to win this thriller.

Even as the Germans were in lead with a three or four goals margin for a long time the Spaniards did not give up and showed a brilliant moral. Thanks to this victory Leon (5 points) remain ahead of the Kiel side (3), which have one match less – but are far away from their ambition to be the dominant team in their group.

Picture: Javier Quintana

The Leon victory has even to be estimated higher, as coach Isidoro Martinez had to replace some injured players like Denis Krivoshlykov.

Thanks to a strong start of Momir Illic Kiel led 11:7 and nearly kept this margin to the break. But in minute 33 Leon equalized at 16:16 – the start of a real thriller. Eight minutes before the end THW seem to be on the winner’s way at 25:22.

But Leon fought back and equalized again at 26:26. Twelve seconds before the end Filip Jicha scored from the penalty line (28:27), but with their last action Leon receive a free throw from the left back side. As the Kiel wall jumps away Ruesga’s shot hits the back of the net – and the following minutes were nothing but Spanish celebrations.

Before the game THW captain and two times CL winner Marcus Ahlm had extended his contract until 2013 –he will finish his career in Kiel.

TEXT: Björn Pazen