Lucky Löwen, Koper and Kolding win top duelsArticle
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Group Phase starts with three German victories, a strong Slovenian performance and disappointed Slovakian hosts

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Lucky Löwen, Koper and Kolding win top duels

All three German teams started victorious in the Group Phase of the Men’s EHF Cup. But as Göppingen and Magdeburg had easy-going matches, Rhein Neckar Löwen needed a last second goal to win at Prešov. Besides, Cimos Koper and KIF Kolding climbed high hurdles successfully.

Group A:

RK Cimos Koper (SLO) vs. Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) 25:21 (13:11)

Cimos Koper had been warned by Atlético Madrid – and in contrast to the VELUX EHF Champions League participant in the Spanish league they took both points in their EHF Cup Group Phase opener against Naturhouse La Rioja. After two defeats in the Slovenian league Koper had recovered and took the points well-deserved, as they were constantly in lead. After a quite close first half, Koper improved in attack and build-up a stable defence to stop the Spanish club. Uroš Rapotec was the top scorer for Cimos by five goals, as Hugo Lopez Pavan netted in six times for the team from Logroňo.

Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs. Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) 37:26 (20:16)

Perfect start of their „mission Nantes“ for the defending champions of the „old version“ of the EHF Cup. Man of the match was Göppingen goalkeeper Bastian Ruschmann, who saved 18 shots and gave confidence to the German who only had problems with their strong Swedish opponent in the equal opening period. When the score was 14:9 after 21 minutes, the fate of Eskilstuna was nearly sealed, after the 24:17 the Swedish team surrendered and allowed Göppingen some intermediately double-figured results.

Group B:

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs. KIF Kolding (DEN) 21:24 (8:10)

A brilliant performance of Bo Spellerberg (pictured, eight goals) paved the way to this highly important away victory of KIF Kolding. The match in the Ukraine was mainly equal with light advantages for the Danes, who led by two goals at the break, before Zaporozhye equalized at 18:18. Kolding – missing Kasper Irming due to an illness - took the lead again, but could not forge ahead to more than two goals until minute 56 – then they finally decided the encounter. Best Zaporozhye scorer was Alexander Semikov with six goals.

Tatran Prešov (SVK) vs. Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 33:34 (17:17)

A last second goal of Swiss international Andy Schmid made the Löwen jump for joy and left Prešov highly disappointed. The Slovakian champions had been on eye level for 60 minutes, but finally had to leave the court empty-handed. The whole match was on the edge with constantly changing leads. No team was away by more than one goal after the break – and the run-down was nearly the same in the whole 30 minutes: Prešov take the lead, Rhein Neckar Löwen equalize. At 32:31 the bundelisga leaders had the only advantage until minute 59:59, as the fighting brave hosts showed a brilliant attack performance. With exact two minutes on the clock they were in lead by 33:32, before Patrick Groetzki equalized. After a Tatran time-out, Dainis Krištopans failed with a shot 40 seconds before the end. Löwen wait patiently for their chance – and with eleven seconds on the clock the Germans took their time-out. And finally Andy Schmid did what he did best this evening: scoring. By netting in his twelfth individual goal with the final buzzer he secured two lucky points for his team.

Group D:

SC Magdeburg (GER ) vs. Besiktas JK (TUR) 33:18 (17:6)

131st victory for SC Magdeburg in their 196th European Cup match – and the opener of the Group Phase was a highly clear matter for the Germans. The former EHF Champions League winner had decided the unequal encounter against the Turkish champions already at the break when the distance was eleven goals. Despite a huge rotation, Magdeburg became more dominant in the second half and had extended the gap to 15 goals for the first time at 29:14 ten minutes before the end. Top scorer for the German club was Robert Weber with six goals, Özhabar scored five times for Besiktas.

Both matches of Groups C and the Group D match Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau (ROU) vs. HBC Nantes (FRA) will be played on Sunday.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br