Madrid back on track, Füchse take a lucky winArticle
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Re-start of the VELUX EHF Champions League: Dinamo Minsk dominantly overran Schaffhausen, while Madrid and Berlin cheated the gallows in the final stages.

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Madrid back on track, Füchse take a lucky win

Round 5 of the VELUX EHF Champions League started with victories of Minsk, Madrid and Berlin on Thursday evening. While the Belarusians outdistanced Schaffhausen, the two last season´s VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants took highly close wins thanks to a strong final stage.

Group B:
HCM Constanta (ROU) – BM Atlético Madrid (ESP) 23:28 (13:12)

2012 VELUX EHF FINAL4 finallist Atlético Madrid have stopped their downswing of only one victory in the past four matches thanks to a finally deserved win in Romania.

Kiril Lazarov and Nikolaj Markussen, who returned to the squad after a long injury break, scored eight times each for the Spaniards – in a match which surprisingly was controlled by Constanta until the middle of the second half. The host remain with only two points on their account.

Pushed by their fans in Bucharest, Constanta managed to stop the Atlético express for a long time and could hope for a major surprise until the score of 21:21 after they had intermediately been away by five goals at 17:12.

But then the big time of Atlético’s Norwegian goalkeeper Magnus Dahl (in total 14 saves) started. His performance backed his team, which then started a strong catch-up chase scoring a winning 7:3 series until the final buzzer.

Group D:
Dinamo Minsk (BLR) – Kadetten Schaffhausen 33:23 (14:12)

Dinamo Minsk have proved their ambitions to go for the Last 16 by their clearest ever victory in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Sergiy Onufryenko and Pavel Atman were the match winners with seven goals each.

The Belarusians improved after the break and overran the chanceless Swiss champions. With five points on their account, Minsk are already three points ahead of their today’s opponent. For Kadetten it was the fourth defeat in the fifth match.

The decisive stage of the match were the first 12 minutes after the break, when Kadetten scored only twice against brilliantly saving goalkeeper Vadim Bogdanov and Minsk extended the margin to 21:14. Best Schaffhausen scorer was Alexander Stojanović with seven goals.

Füchse Berlin (GER) – RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb 29:27 (12:13)

Berlin luckily caught up with the top ranked FC Barcelona (eight points) thanks to a thrilling victory against strong fighting Croats, who unluckily missed one or even two points. Man of the match was Iker Romero, who decided the game on his own by eight goals after the break.

Zagreb remain by three points and were overtaken by Minsk.

The host had an early control of the game, led 5:2, as Zagreb had problems in attack. When Berlin were away by 10:5 everything looked like an easy-going evening. But suddenly, Füchse lost their rhythm completely, while Zagreb strengthened their defence and changed their goalkeeper to Mario Kelentrić. The Croats just had to wait for turnovers and Berlin mistakes to score their easy goals.

And suddenly the match had turned around, after the 7:11 Zagreb scored six straight strikes to take the lead and caused a major insecurity in the host’s team, which also had big problems in one man advantage situations and in defending tall shooter Luka Stepančić.

One thought the Berlin backlog would easily be finished after the break, was wrong. The rejuvenated Zagreb team played on their highest level, led by the ideas and inspiration of playmaker David Špiler.

Berlin still lacked the means to break the Croatian defence – and it took 13 minutes, before the host was in lead again at 21:20, forcing RK coach Slavko Goluža to take his time-out.

Spanish Iker Romero, who arrived on the field only after the break, was the key to the Berlin upswing – but still his team was unable to forge ahead, as their defence was too weak. Zagreb remained on eye level and even took the lead again at 27:26 thanks to Batinović with only five minutes on the clock.

And after two team mates had failed from the seven metre line before, Romero took the responsibility, hitting the net twice by penalties with his goals six and seven in only 23 minutes to 28:27. And goal number eight for 29:27 meant the decision 45 seconds before the end.

Zlatko Horvat, Špiler and Stepančić scored five times each for the unlucky Croats, who were close to a deserved draw.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br