Hamburg Group winner, Sävehof surprise ZagrebArticle
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Round 8 of the VELUX EHF Champions League: Leon win top duel against Montpellier, as Barcelona is close to Group victory.

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Men's News

Hamburg Group winner, Sävehof surprise Zagreb

HSV Hamburg is the first Group winner in this season of the VELUX EHF Champions League after winning in St. Petersburg. Like Hamburg in Group C, FC Barcelona Intersport took their eighth victory in eight matches thanks to a sovereign 30:19 against Chambery in Group A. Thanks to the sensational defeat of RK Zagreb in Sävehof, the Catalans only need one more point to become Group winner.

In Group B, the “group of death”, Füchse Berlin remain in the thrilling race for the Last 16 after beating Chechovskie Medvedi – except for already qualified leader Atletico Madrid, nothing in this Group is decided yet.

Ademar Leon are still the top hunters of THW Kiel and AG Kobenhavn in Group D, where all four participants of the Last 16 are already known. Thanks to their close victory over Montpellier, the Spaniards rank third, only one point below the Danes and two points below the Germans.

After eight Rounds of the VELUX EHF Champions League, there are still six places open for the knock-out stage.

Group A:

Chambery Savoie (FRA) vs. FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) 19:30 (10:15)

A 20 good minutes were not enough for Chambery Savoie to repeat last season’s success against FC Barcelona Intersport. The defending champions played sovereignly in the lion’s den and secured a clear victory. Without playmaker Edin Basic, the French runners-up did not have the means to stop the “Barca express” with their outstanding fast wings and counter attacks.  Goalkeeper Danijel Saric saved impressively as well.

After the 8:8 score in minute 20, Barcelona's engine was in full swing as the Catalans increased the gap easily to 15:10 at the break. After the first ten minutes of the second half and a score of 16:19, Chambery's hope rose, but four straight goals brought the Catalans back on the track to victory. In the end the match was decided at 26:18.

As Barcelona only need one more point to secure the Group victory, the next duel on Thursday at Schaffhausen (both teams equal with six points) is crucial for Chambery.

IK Sävehof (SWE) vs. RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO) 28:25 (12:10)

The Swedish champions remain the big surprise in this Group: Thanks to their fourth victory in the last five matches, Sävehof took the third position in this Group, two points ahead of Schaffhausen and Chambery. Having their next match at Sarajevo (still zero points) they can already secure their qualification for the Last 16 next weekend.

On another note, Croatia's first away defeat this season was a huge kickback in the race for their Group victory. Now Zagreb needs to win at Barcelona next weekend to still have a chance at the number one spot.

After the host's strong start (12:7), the game was then tied at a score of 16:16 before Sävehof's strongest period began. Led by top scorer Fredrik Larsson (13 goals), the Swedes played their best 15 minutes of this VELUX EHF Champions League season, scoring a series of 11:3 and ending the game with a score of 27:19. The Croatian's attempt to catch-up came too late as they clearly didn't pose a danger for the Swedes.   

Group B:

Füchse Berlin (GER) vs. Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) 31:28 (17:19)

The Foxes tamed the Bears: Thanks to this close and hard earned victory, the Germans overtook the Russians on the court. Ranked third, Füchse is only one point below MKB Veszprem, one point ahead of Vive Targi Kielce and two points ahead of Medvedi.

The guests had a slightly better start to the match, but the teams were at eye level for nearly the entire 60 minutes. With a score of 27:27 in minute 56, no team could manage to outplay the opponent. Then, in the last four minutes the game was decided as Mark Bult hammered a penalty shot into the Russian goal, scoring to take a mere 2-point lead at 30:28. Berlin's Sven-Sören Christophesen then secured the victory with the final goal. Top scorer was Marcus Richwien with eight goals for Füchse.

Group C:

St. Petersburg HC (RUS) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER) 25:36 (13:17)

Even without their team captain Pascal Hen - out due to an injury -  HSV Hamburg could not be stopped as they were on their way to their eighth victory. Fiercly dominating the competition, they imprinted the one-sided game and took the early victory in Group C.  Top scorers were Bertrande Gille (HSV), Eldar Nasyrov and Ruslan Gaboev (St. Petersburg) with six goals each.

Hamburg began a bit better, but St. Petersburg was fairly close until the break, but when Matthias Flohr scored four straight goals to make the score 23:17, the game was already decided in minute 40. Goalkeeper Johannes Bitter saved 17 shots and Guillaume Gille (in his 400th match for HSV) scored the most spectacular goal. In the Baltic city 100 German fans celebrated a clear victory.

The host now needs a miracle to reach the Last 16, as St. Petersburg is four points below the fourth ranked team Wisla Plock.

Statements after the match:

Jens Häusler (Hamburg coach): ''It was a very important success, as we knew that this game will be a very intense and physical one. We took the points well deserved.''

Dimitry Torgovanow (St. Petersburg coach): ''We cannot cope with an international top team like my former club is. We lost our concentration in the second half so the distance rose minute by minute.''

Group D:

AG Kobenhavn (DEN) vs. RK Partizan Beograd (SRB) 29:23 (18:11)

It was a Sunday stroll for AG Kobenhavn against Belgrade - still awaiting their first point. Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson and Niclas Ekberg paved the way for an easy-going victory for the Danish champions, who remain second in the Group, one point below Kiel.

9 of the first 18 AGK goals in the first half were scored by the Sigurdsson/Ekberg duo and goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt saved 61 percent of Belgrade's shots. There was a comfortable distance throughout the entire game and since RK Partizan Beograd didn't pose a threat, Kobenhavn was able to save some of their power for the next two upcoming hurdles in the VELUX EHF Champions League: at Montpellier and at home against Kiel.

Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) vs. Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA) 29:28 (13:12)

Ademar Leon is still undefeated at home: After the game against Kiel and the victory over Kobenhavn, the Spaniards now took both points against MAHB Montpellier and remain in third position, only one point below Kobenhavn but already three points ahead of the French champions, who need to fight hard in order to leave the fourth rank, which would mean a top opponent already in the Last 16.

The match had spectators on the edge of their seats the complete 60 minutes – with light advantages for Leon, fighting like lions. Both goalkeepers – Alamo (Leon) and Stochl (Montpellier) - had a brilliant day in this nail-biting thriller.

After the 9:9 the host increased the gap to 13:10, but then Montpellier returned and led for the first (and last) time at 17:16 in minute 37. Both teams played very intense, bot no team could outdistance the other. Five minutes before the end at the score of 27:25 for Leon, Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer took his time-out: succesful, as his team equalized again. Time-out Leon 2:11 minutes before the final whistle – then Garcia and Ruesga decide the game with two goals for 29:27.

TEXT: Björn Pazen