Zagreb take fortress Palau BlaugranaArticle
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First defeat for defending champions Barcelona, whilst Sävehof qualify for the Last 16.

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Men's News

Zagreb take fortress Palau Blaugrana

The tension is rising in Group A after the first defeat of FC Barcelona Intersport – at home against Zagreb. But still the defending champions have the best chances to become Group winner. Aside Sävehof secured their biggest success since 2005 min the VELUX EHF Champions League by qualifying for the Last 16.

Group A:

FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO) 29:30 (14:15)

The race for the Group victory is relatively open again: Sensationally Zagreb took the fortress Palau Blaugrana as the first team since more than a year in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Thanks to this victory – the first defeat for Barcelona Intersport in this season of the Spanish league and the VELUX EHF Champions League – Zagreb reduced the gap to only two points and equalized the direct encounter after the 30:31 home defeat against the defending champions.

But the chance of the Croats to become Group winner is only mathematically: They need to beat Schaffhausen in Round 10 and Barcelona need to lose at Sävehof – aside Zagreb have to catch-up  48 goals compared to the defending champions.

Barcelona were below with four goals at 6:10, before the host caught up and were equal at 12:12, before the guest took  the lead at the break (15:14).

When Zagreb – without playmaker Ivano Balic outdistanced Barcelona 26:23 the surprise was close, and in the end, the Croats had not been endangered despite the close result.

Top scorers were Siarhei Rutenka (Barcelona) with eight goals and Marko Kopljar (Zagreb) with seven goals.

RK Bosna BH Gas Sarajevo (BIH) vs. IK Sävehof (SWE) 21:38 (8:19)

After closely qualifying for the Group Stage in the qualification tournament,  Sävehof iK have made their way to the Last 16 as currently third ranked team of Group A. Thanks to their first away victory in this season of the VELUX EHF Champions League Sävehof is the first Swedish team to qualify for the Last 16 since the new playing system had started in the 2009/2010 season.

After the first half this one-sided game was pre-decided, and Bosna missed the last but one chance to take their first points clearly. “We are really enjoying our last match against Barcelona. This will be the biggest match of our club’s history”, said  club director Stefan Albrechtson.

Sävehof’s final position is not decided yet, it depends on their own match against the defending champions and the encounter of Schaffhausen in Zagreb on Saturday.

Group D:

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. Partizan Beograd (SRB) 31:21 (13:10)

The Hungarians said farewell to their fans with their third victory – but both teams had missed the Last 16 before and Partizan remain without a single point after 9 Rounds. Szeged even won with a clearer distance compared to the first leg (29:23).

After Belgrade was quite close before the break, Szeged increased the distance to 22:16 (minute 44) – and the gap were ten goals for the first time at 28:18 in minute 52. Top scorers were Anscin (8 goals for Pick) and Maksic with four goals for Belgrade.

Statements after the match:

Vladimir Bankovic, coach Belgrade: We played very bad, especially in attack and we have conceded too many easy goals. We could not play how we wanted.

Laszlo Skaliczki, coach Pick Szeged:  Thanks for our supporters that they were here and cheer for us when they saw that we really want to win. A hard period is behind us with long journeys and few training I hope that the next season will be better.

TEXT: Björn Pazen