Kielce through thanks to Bjerringbro, Madrid and Montpellier victoriousArticle
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Round 6 of the VELUX EHF Champions League finalized with four home victories – four participants of the Last 16 confirmed by now

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Kielce through thanks to Bjerringbro, Madrid and Montpellier victorious

After Barcelona, Veszprem and Berlin have made it to the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League on Saturday, Kielce followed even without playing: The Polish champions, who had beaten Metalurg closely yesterday, took the profit of Bjerringbro’s victory against St. Petersburg, which latest confirmed their qualification for the knock-out stage.

Aside, Madrid had major problems to be victorious against Constanta, Flensburg won the Match of the Week against Hamburg and Montpellier took their second straight win against Partizan.

Group A:

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER) 29:26 (14:12)

SG Flensburg-Handewitt are back on track after winning the highly thrilling Match of the Week in group A against their German opponents HSV Hamburg closely. After the 28:31 defeat in the first leg last Sunday, Flensburg even took the direct encounter thanks to the bigger number of away goals.

After their first defeat in this season of the VELUX EHF Champions League Hamburg missed the chance for an early qualification for the Last 16. After six rounds Hamburg and Chekhovskie Medvedi are equal by 9 points and dominate their group clearly with Flensburg one point behind. The most important question in the remaining four rounds will be which team will finally top the table.

The re-match in Flensburg was a nail-biting full defence battle – decided seconds before the final whistle and exactly in the same second, when German Sebastian Vettel became Formula-1-champion for the third time. Match winner for Flensburg was top scorer Holger Glandorf, who’s seven goals mostly were scored in the crucial stages of the match, like goal number seven for 27:24 90 seconds before the end. Aside, the tactical measure of a long-term man-to-man defence against Hamburg’s Domagoj Duvnjak was decisive. Duvnjak had been the crucial figure in the first match and even became HSV top scorer with seven goals again – but was controlled much better. HSV had to replace his Croatian country-fellow Blaženko Lacković due to a broken finger, occurred in a league match on Wednesday.

Read the full match report in a additional article.

Montpellier Agglomération HB (FRA) vs. Partizan Beograd (SRB) 31:26 (16:10)

After a disappointing start with only one point from four matches, Montpellier have found their regular style of playing again. Thanks to the second victory against Partizan in only one week after the 32:29 in Serbia they climbed up on fourth position and are -  for the first time in this season  - on a rank, which would mean the qualification for the Last 16.

Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer was thankful to all parties: “I want to once again thank Partizan Belgrade for their hospitality during our visit to Belgrade, worthy of a great club. On the game tonight, I want to congratulate my players for their determination. We still have a long way to go but I'm glad we have shown our real attitude on the court.”

With the success international return of the top scorers Dragan Gajič (six goals like Michael Guigou) and Nikola Karabatić (5) on home ground, the French champions have good chances to fulfill their first objective, to march on to the knock-out stage.

In all competitions Montpellier are unbeaten in the past seven matches. Thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Mikael Robin Montpellier extended the gap early to 12:7 and were away by seven goals for the first time at 21:14 in minute 37. But the Serbian champions fought hard and showed a great resistance – but they could not bridge the gap to intermediately less than three goals like at 18:21. Latest at the 29:25 the well-deserved winner was confirmed.

Best Partizan scorer was Bogdan Radivojević with six goals. “We made a very bad first half and it was difficult for us to catch up in the second half. We still have three games left to qualify and we will try to win. We have no choice,” said Partizan coach Aleksandar Brković.

Group B:

Atlético Madrid (ESP) – HCM Constanta (ROU) 25:24 (12:11)

First home victory for the 2012 VELUX EHF FINAL4 finalists, but Atlético Madrid were again close to a failure after losing on home ground against Kiel and Veszprém. The Spaniards were – like in the first leg in Romania, when they were below until the final stages – the weaker team against Constanta, as the guests did not have any respect for Madrid. Thanks to their third victory Atlético confirmed the third rank, while Constanta remain on bottom with only two points,

And like in the first match Constanta goalkeeper Mihia Popescu stood like a rock and shut up his shop in a defence orientated match. Madrid were not able to forge ahead, as the Constanta defence were tactically perfectly adapted to the Spaniard’s style. Though Madrid were away by four goals right before the break, Constanta reduced to only 11:12 after 30 minutes – and remained in a hunter’s position in the second half.

Though Atlético were in lead nearly all the time, they lacked confidence and were close to a draw in the final minute, but finally Nicolaj Markussen scored the decisive 25:24 in the dying time of the match.

Top scorers in an unexpected thrilling match were Laurentiu Toma with six goals for Constanta and Kiril Lazarov and Roberto Garcia Parrondo with each four strikes for Madrid.

Group C:

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) – St. Petersburg HC (RUS) 31:22 (17:12)

Like last week in Russia (35:23), Bjerringbro-Silkeborg had no problem by defeating St. Petersburg. And the Danes had double joy, as their third victory was not only a major step towards the Last 16, but it was a brilliant premiere in their new  JYSK Arena. Match winners for Bjerringbro Silkeborg were goalkeeper Jannick Green and Chris Jørgensen.

Carsten Albrektsen, coach of Bjerringbro-Silkeborg was quite delighted, but: “Today’s match was much tougher than the match in Chekhov. St. Petersburg played with more spirit and faster and we had lots of problems with their attack. I am not satisfied with the defence but our fast breaks are strong and we played good in the attack even though we were without our two left handed players on the right back. We had to work hard to get the victory but we got it   - and that is really important. We are pleased about our position right now and we know that we are really close to the Last 16, but it is important that we stay focused. There is still lots of work to do.”

After an equal start, the hosts scored four consecutive times to 8:6, causing a St. Petersburg time-out. But nothing changed: Backed by goalkeeping of Jannick Green and their counter attack goals the Danes increase their lead to 11:8 and in the last minutes of the first half Bjerringbro-Silkeborg grew their lead partly thanks to their young hope Theis Baagøe. The result at half time was 17:12.

From that moment on, the host extended the margin minute by minute, especially thanks to improving Chris Jørgensen, who made it 23:16 after 39 minutes. When Casper Mortensen hit the net, the intermediate result was doubled figured for the first time at 28:18  - and latest then the winners were confirmed. The final result  of 31:22 brings Bjerringbro-Silkeborg on the fourth place four points ahead of St. Petersburg. So they have a theoretical chance to reach the Last 16 already next Sunday when they play KS Vive Targi Kielce at home.

On the other hand St. Petersburg coach Dmitriy Torgovanov of course was not satisfied: “We played a better first half than we did last week in Chekhov. The level of the Bjerringbro-Silkeborg team is strong. They play fast and they have a really good defence and also their spirit is really good. Our level was not enough to beat them. We didn’t play good enough to win. We know it is difficult for us now in the group but we will fight until the end and we are optimistic but we know that our chance is little right now.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br