Veszprém, Kielce and Barcelona keep their 100 percent recordArticle
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Montpellier take their first victory, as Chambéry still wait for their first point and Hamburg win all-German encounter

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Men's News

Veszprém, Kielce and Barcelona keep their 100 percent record

After five rounds of the VELUX EHF Champions league only three teams have a clean record: MKB Veszprém, FC Barcelona Intersport and Vive Targi Kielce.

As MAHB Montpellier took their first victory in Serbia, their country-fellows from Chambéry still wait for their first point after a clashing home-defeat against Velenje. Hamburg remain unbeaten after their victory against Flensburg.

Group A:

RK Partizan (SRB) vs. Montpellier Agglomération HB (FRA)  29:32 (17:17)

Montpellier registered their first win in this season’s VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase and kept alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the competition after an inspired performance by Nikola Karabatić.

Back to his best in Europe’s elite, Karabatić kept the French champions afloat throughout the absorbing contest and his valiant solo effort, epitomised by lethal finishing in the first half and unselfish assists in the second, saw off a battling Partizan side.  

A stranger to handball might have thought the Serbian champions were playing against their second team after Montpellier had lost their luggage en route to Belgrade and hence had to play in Partizan’s reserve kits, while they also bought new footwear in Niš the day before the match.

The mishap, however, did not seem to deter the French title holders as they made a flying start and raced into a 7:4 lead before Partizan tightened up their defence and temporarily turned the tables on their rivals.

Montpellier could not cope with the pace of the home team’s speedy left wing Nemanja Ilić, who kept pulling away from his markers on fast breaks and scored four goals in the first half as he inspired a fired-up Partizan outfit to a 16:14 shortly before the break.

But Mickael Robin was outstanding in goal for the visitors while Karabatić scored several crucial goals to silence a vociferous home crowd in a packed Čair Hall and make sure the teams went into their dressing rooms on level terms at halftime.

Montpellier again made a brighter start after the interval, some free-flowing handball giving them a 23:21 lead in the 40th minute. But Partizan refused to lie down and had their supporters on song again after scoring two goals in a row, forcing a tit-for-tat battle as the game headed for a dramatic climax.

Midway through the second half, the atmopshere reached fever pitch after Partizan carved out a 27:25 advantage and forced Montpellier to call a time out amid a deafening roar form the terraces. 

The final 10 minutes produced a flurry of dramatic moments as the visitors scored four goals without reply to take a 31:29 lead and seal their victory, as there was no way back for a tired Partizan team. The home team were still treated to standing ovation by their fans, who also applauded Montpellier off the court. 

„Partizan made us work hard for our win and having struggled in the first half and much of the second, we managed to grind out an important win after playing well in the closing stages,“ Montpellier left wing Michael Gigou told a news conference.

„It was a tough game and very important win for us because we now face a string of very difficult games in the French league and the Champions League, but we are looking forward to the challenges after this morale-boosting win,“ he added.

„We must thank Partizan for being so kind to lend us their reserve kits, thus enabling us to play this match. They also showed that they are a great and sportsmanlike team which has compared tremendously compared to last season. We swung the match our way thanksd to strong defence in the last 10 minutes,“ Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer assessed.

His Partizan counterpart Aleksandar Brković said: „I have to congratulate Montpellier for their win but I am also proud of my players and staff for putting up a spirited fight and staying in the match until the very end. We missed some great chances to win the match but I have no complaints because not a single one of our player has Karabatic's experience." 

HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 31:28 (13:15)

Unbeaten HSV made a major step to finish the group on top: After a very weak beginning the hosts had to struggle really hard to beat their German opponents. Before the re-match in Flensburg next Sunday – the Match of the Week – Hamburg is leading by nine points, two points ahead of Chekhovskie Medvedi and one more ahead of Flensburg.

Match winners for Hamburg was the Croatian duo Domagoj Duvnjak and Igor Vori, who scored in total 15 goals, Holger Glandorf stroke eight times for Flensburg.

The number of HSV mistakes in the starting period was immense, aside Flensburg goalkeeper Sören Rasmussen had shut up the shop – the result was clear: After the 3:3, the guests scored seven straight goals to 10:3, causing a Hamburg time-out. And the intervention of coach Martin Schwalb worked: As Hamburg strengthened their defence and played much more concentrated in attack, the distance melted to only two goals at the break.  Everything was open again, as Flensburg had to cope with an injury shock: Arnor Atlason had to be carried from the court on a stretcher after an early knee injury of the SG playmaker.

After the break the match turned around completely: At the 17:16 Hamburg were in lead for the first time since the first minute – and unstoppable Duvnjak was mostly responsible for the first two-goal lead at 25:23, while Vori netted for the 27:24. But though they were below by four goals intermediately Flensburg did not give up.

Two minutes before the end a draw was in reach, when Glandorf scored the 29:28, but two final strikes of Stefan Schröder sealed the deal for the hosts.

Group B:

Sävehof IK (SWE) vs. MKB Veszprém (HUN) 22:32 (10:14)

After beating Atlético Madrid on home ground in the previous round IK Sävehof missed the next big surprise clearly. In contrast, MKB Veszprém kept their 100 percent record by their fifth victory in their fifth match, extending the gap to runners-up THW Kiel already to four points after the German’s yesterday defeat at Celje.

The Hungarians started highly focused and motivated and early forged ahead to 5:1 and 8:2. Thanks to their strongest period Sävehof intermediately caught up to 7:9, but the favoured table topper restarted their engines to be away by four goals at the break.  Latest ten minutes before the end, when the score was 26:18, the winners were confirmed and at 28:18 the result was double-figured for the first time.

Top scorers in this mostly one-sided match were Gábor Császár, netting in eight times for Veszprem, and Norwegian youngster Kent Robin Tönnesen, who scored five times – the same number of goals as Hungarian world star László Nagy.

Group C:

Chambéry Savoie (FRA) vs. Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 20:31 (9:16)

While Chambéry remain the only of 24 teams without any point on their account, Gorenje Velenje made a major step towards the knock-out stage. Having the re-match against the French runners-up on the next match day they can even increase their distance ahead of Bjerringbro. With now six points on their account, the Slovenians are only two points below Metalurg.

Chambery coach Mario Cavalli was really shocked of his players, when he took his time-out at the score of 2:11, but no reaction followed on the French side. So the unequal encounter was decided in the early stages already, and Velenje did not even to give full powers to remain in a clear lead easily.

St. Petersburg HC (RUS) vs. Bjerringbro Silkeborg (DEN) 23:35 (11:18)

Thanks to their second win – the second in their history of participating in the VELUX EHF Champions League too – Bjerringbro Silkeborg have a brilliant position for reaching the Last 16, especially as they face the Russians again next weekend on home ground. St. Petersburg remain with only two points and a psychological disadvantage.

The Danes were boosted by their ten goal victory in their domestic league against Kolding and left the Russians chanceless from the first to the last minute. The match had already been decided at the break, as Bjerringbro had more power and the clearly better individual skills compared to the host. Backed by goalkeeper Jannick Green the Danish defence played brilliant, but in attack they missed even a huge number of chances to get an even clearer result.

Cris Jörgensen and Casper Mortensen were the top scorers with seven goals each.

Metalurg HK (MKD) vs. Vive Targi Kielce (POL) 21:23 (12:10)

The Match of the Week was a nail-biting thriller for 60 minutes: After Metalurg had been dominant until the middle of the second half, Kielce fought hard and now remain with a clear record of ten points after five matches, while the Macedonians were defeated for the first time in this season.

Thanks to their better defence, Metalurg were in lead most of the time in a close and leveled match. The decisive stage had arrived when the host were away by 17:15 and close to forge ahead – but from that moment on the Kielce defence stood like a wall and goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal saved a series of shots. Thanks to this improvement the Polish champions stopped their downswing and turned a match around by a series of 5:1 to 20:18.

But still nothing was decided, as Renato Vugrinec reduced the gap again to only one goal five minutes before the final buzzer. Latest the 23:20, scored by Ivan Čupić, decided this thrilling and high-class top match. Čupić were on top of the scorer list by eight goals, followed by Vugrinec (7).

Group D:

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) 28:33 (15:18)

Like Veszprém and Kielce, Barcelona keep their clean record with the maximum of ten points. But it was a tough piece of work until the resistance of the brave fighting Hungarians had been broken. Szeged remain by two points, equal in points with Kadetten Schaffhausen.

Barca coach Xavi Pascual was lucky that his team took the points: "It was a really difficult match and we knew it before the game. We were surprised by the aggressive style of Szeged and the key moment was our second time-out in minute 45. After that we played better and better. Szeged played very well and I am surprised because they have only two points in the group."

On the other hand Szeged coach László Skaliczki was highly disappointed: "I feel so sad like Don Quijote in the famous novel. We could do what we discussed in the dressing room, our defence was good, we could start our fast breaks. Moreover our backs’ performance were good, Ancsin and Šulc played well. The second time-out was decisive, after that we didn’t play so well and I felt that some players became tired. In parallel with this Barcelona played better in defence, the goalkeeper performed very well and their attacks were also successful."

Thanks to goalkeeper Roland Mikler, Szeged imprinted the starting period and surprisingly led by 8:5 and even 11:7, before the Catalans started their engines and turned the match around within eight minutes to the halftime result of 13:15.

But Barcelona could not manage to outclass their opponents, as Szeged – pushed by their spectators – remained close until minute 56, when Barca were away only by three goals (29:26). But in the final stages the number of mistakes arose on the host’s side, and Barcelona took a well-deserved victory.

Top scorers were Szeged’s Jonas Larhom and Frantisek Šulc with eight goals each, Alberto Rocas scored seven times for Barca.

TEXT: Björn Pazen/Zoran Milosavljević