Hard-earned victories for Kiel and MontpellierArticle
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THW qualified for Last 16 after beating Kobenhavn like their opponent, French champions catch up to top trio.

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Hard-earned victories for Kiel and Montpellier

The last two matches of the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2011 brought the next decisions in Group D: THW Kiel and AG Kobenhavn have qualified for the Last 16  - as the teams seven and eight -  after their direct duel, won closely by the Germans. MAHB Montpellier is back on track: After three straight defeats they beat Szeged and rank fourth now.

Group D:

Montpellier MAHB (FRA) – Pick Szeged (HUN) 29:26 (17:14)

After the 35:38 defeat in the first match in Hungary, Montpellier again had some problems with Pick. The French champion was ahead until minute 20 (9:8), before they missed too many chances in attack. Szeged took the profit and surprisingly took a two goal margin in minute 25 (14:12). But this result did not last until the break, in contrast: Montpellier were back on track after five straight goals and the 17:14 half time score.

Though the frenetic fans hoped for an early decision, Szeged kept their high level especially in defence, which stopped Karabatic & Co. But as on the other hand MAHB goalkeeper Primoz Prost had an excellent day, the host avoided that the match turned.

Szeged reduced to 22:23, before Montpellier took the final control and took a deserved but hard-earned victory. Due to this result the French champions have won the direct encounter, thanks to the higher number of away goals in Hungary.  Montpellier rank fourth, four points ahead of Szeged and only one point below Leon. So nothing is decided yet.

THW Kiel (GER) – AG Kobenhavn (DEN) 28:26 (12:14)

THW Kiel is new leader of Group D – and finish 2011 on the top position. Thanks to an absolute improvement after the break the Germans managed to take this high hurdle against the strong Danish opponent.  With eleven points THW rank one point ahead of Danes and two ahead of Leon.

But it was a real tough piece of work for Kiel to avoid their second home defeat of this season after losing against Montpellier. Kobenhavn was on eye level the whole 60 minutes – and a catch-up chase from minute 40 on brought those crucial points for THW.

Niklas Ekberg and Mikkel Hansen imprinted the first half in Kiel: The Germans were unable to stop Ekberg, and in the final stage of the first 30 minutes, Hansen scored the decisive goals, even with one or two AGK players less on the field in this world class battle. In the end both were the top scorers with each eight goals. Kobenhavn played brilliant in defence and attack, but THW could count on their usual strength like their shooters Filip Jicha or goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer. But two Hansen goals right before the break brought the Danish champions a 14:12 lead, cheered by about 500 AGK fans in Kiel.

And one thought Kiel would improve directly after the break, was wrong – AGK even increased the gap to 20:17 in minute 41. But then the Zebras fought like lions, turned the game and went with a two goal advantage (25:23) into the last five minutes. AGK kept up, but one minute before the final whistle, THW top scorer Christian Zeitz decided the game with his seventh goal at 28:25.


TEXT: Björn Pazen