Leon turn the match in the final stageArticle
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Spaniards win 31:28 against MKB Veszprem, but have to be aware in the second leg of the Last 16.

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Leon turn the match in the final stage

Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) vs. MKB Veszprem (HUN)  31:28 (19:19)

Thanks to an improvement in the last 19 minutes, nine goals of top scorer Martin Stranovsky (pictured) and several important saves of goalkeeper Venjo Losert Ademar in “crunch time”, Reale Ademar Leon can hope for reaching the Quarterfinals of the VELUX EHF Champoions League.

But the three goal margin is no cushion to rest on in the second leg at Veszprem – and it was a hard-earned victory.

In the first half both teams played nearly without defence – shown by 38 goals and an equal 19:19 score in 30 minutes. Also the starting line-up duel of both Croatian goalkeepers ended levelled, as neither Venjo Losert (Leon) nor Mirko Alilovic (Veszprem) were able to save many shots.

Even as the halftime score was equal, Leon was in better position most of the times and were in lead several times with a three goal margin like after eleven minutes when the score was 7:4. But the Hungarian champions were able to get back on eye level. Led by Gabor Czaszar and Marko Vujin, Veszprem caught up and took the first lead at 18:17 after scoring four straight goals. On the other hand Slovakian wing player Martin Stranovsky kept the faith alive for Leon with six goals from six attempts before the break.

But right from the start of the second half, the guests took control and calmed down the enthusiastic Spanish spectators. As the host only scored two goals in eleven minutes and as Veszprem goalkeeper Nandor Fazekas saved brilliant, the Hungarians increased the gap to four goals at 25:21 – and caused an early time-out of Leon coach Isidoro Martinez.

And from that time-out on, Veszprem lost their pace, rhythm and glory completely.

Thanks to the saves of Losert Leon scored four straight goals, equalized at 25:25 in minute 46 and even took the lead at 27:26, when Felipe Borges hit the back of the net in minute 49. Veszprem coach Lajos Mocsai, whose players only scored one goal in nine minutes, took his time-out.

But the problems in attack remained – on both sides now.

It took nearly seven minutes before the spectators could celebrate the next goal – and they went crazy, when Alvaro Ferrer extended the gap to 28:26. After Veszprem’s Ferenc Ilyes received a red card and his team was in a two man disadvantage, Carlos Ruesga grabbed the chance to score the 31:28 – and after another red card against Renato Sulic (after his third suspension) Leon missed the last chance, a direct free throw.

Top scorer for Veszprem was Csaszar with ten goals.

On Wednesday and Thursday THW Kiel (at Wisla Plock) and Atletico Madrid (at Schaffhausen) had paved the way to the Quarterfinals with clear away victories.

Statements after the match:

Isidoro Martinez, coach Reale Ademar Leon: We suceeded with our primary goal, to win the game. We knew that it would be hard to beat a top team like Veszprem. Our defence changed the game and we are confident to show the same performing level again at Veszprem.

Lajos Mocsai, coach MKB Veszprem: The match was like a roller coaster, as we could not keep our four goal advantage in the second half. In the end it was our fault that we lost – and Venjo Losert saved some important shots. Both teams still got a realisatic chance to proceed to the Quarterfinals.

TEXT: Björn Pazen