Only three teams still with a clear recordArticle
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Magdeburg, Koper and Rhein Neckar Löwen win their second matches – Göppingen defeated at Logrono, while Plock lose at home

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»Group Phase

Only three teams still with a clear record

Surprise, surprise: Round 2 of the EHF Cup Group Phase started by some unexpected results. Orlen Wisla Plock lost at home against Tvis Holstebro, as Frisch Auf Göppingen was defeated by Naturhouse La Rioja. And Cimos Koper needed a last-second goal to be successful at Eskilstuna. But the Slovenians are like Rhein Neckar Löwen and SC Magdeburg the only team with currently four points on the account.

Group A:

Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) vs. RK Cimos Koper (SLO) 29:30 (15:14)

One week after their 25:21 against La Rioja, the Slovenians took two lucky points at Eskilstuna. Matjaz Brumen scored the winning goal right with the final whistle by a penalty shot. While Koper have the optimum of four points on their account, Guif are still at zero.

 The match was a thriller on eye level with constantly changing leads throughout the 60 minutes. In the final stages, Cimos were in lead most of the time, but Guif stood strong equalizing 20 seconds before the end. The Koper coach Fredi Radojkovic took his time-out – and gave the right instructions, as after a foul against Dejan Bombac, Brumen netted in from the penalty line.

Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs. Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) 25:23 (12:13)

The Spaniards took revenge for their elimination in the EHF Cup semi-finals two years ago – and by beating the defending champions of the “old EHF Cup” La Rioja brought highest tension to this group, being equal with Göppingen now. The Germans had won their first encounter against Eskilstuna, while La Rioja had lost at Koper.

The Germans had enormous injury problems – and even re-activated goalkeeper Enid Tahirovic for the match in Logrono. But this position did not cause the defeat, as Primoz Prost saved 15 shots.

Jorge Luis Pavan was the key that La Rioja was in lead nearly the whole first half – except the last seconds, when Zarko Markovic hit the net for the 13:12 for Göppingen. After the break the match remained on the edge. The only time the host were away by three goals was at 23:20, but two straight Göppingen goals stopped the downswing.

The final minutes were something like a private duel of the two goalkeepers Prost and Gurutz Aguinagalde, brother of world champion Julen. And as the La Rioja keeper saved some highly important shots, his team was constantly in lead –when Niko Mindeguia scored the 25:23 the deal was sealed.

Top scorers were Markovic (seven goals for Göppingen) and Pavan (six goals for La Rioja).

Group B:

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER ) vs. HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) 35:22 (18:11)

After the hard-earned opening victory at Presov, Rhein Neckar Löwen put the pedal to the metal against Motor Zaporozhye. Though their right back Alexander Petterson was injured at the ankle after the break, the Germans did not have any problems to take this easy and clear victory.

Andy Schmid and Kim Ekdahl du Rietz were the top scorers by five goals each. “We took the match highly serious and could count on a strong defence for 60 minutes – this was the key to success,” Löwen coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson said.

“The victory was absolutely well-deserved,” said Zaporozhye’s assistant coach Yury Kidyaev: “Löwen have class of their own, this was the difference.”

After the 5:2 the host forged ahead to 11:6 and even increased the gap to seven goals at the break. The only shock was Petterson’s injury, but after a first examination he will not miss the upcoming matches. Without the Icelandic, Löwen double-figured the result at 26:16 for the first time and clashed their opponent finally by 13 goals. Semikov was Zaporozhye’s top scorer by five goals.

On Sunday the match KIF Kolding (DEN ) vs. TATRAN Presov (SVK) will complete this group.

Group C:

RK Maribor Branik (SLO ) vs. Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR) 34:29 (19:14)

First victory for Maribor after the draw at Holstebro the week before: Thanks to their clearly stronger defence, the Slovenians took a five goal gap to the dressing rooms at the break – and intermediately had even been away by 16:9.

The Norwegians then showed moral and reduced to 22:24 in minute 43, but Branik did not allow their opponent to turn the match around completely. In contrast: Maribor improved and when leading by a seven goal margin the match was decided, when Simon Razgor scored for 33:24, the result nearly was double-figured. In the final minutes Elverum managed to reduce the margin to only five goals.

Maribor coach Marko Šibila was highly satisfied: “From the start of the match we were fully focused. We continued with the same effort in the second half, though Elverum came closer on only two goals. After this weak moments we successfully built up an advantage of nine goals.” And Branik player Nikola Špelić added: “In the begging we were too nervous. But then we improved and beat them by our stronger defence and counter attacks.”

For Andreas Rönnberg, player of Elverum, Maribor’s goalkeeper was the key: “We missed too many shots against him. When we had managed to reduce the gap to only two goals, we again caused too many mistakes.” And coach Christian Berge praised the attack of the victors:  “So far we didn't compete with a team which played so fast. In the second half we played better, but then we made too much stupid mistakes which cost us heavy defeat.”

Elverum had already unluckily lost their first encounter against Plock and remain on zero points.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs. Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) 28:29 (15:13)

Despite an amazing atmosphere in Orlen Arena, Plock surprisingly lost their home opener after winning the first match at Elverum. Holstebro remain unbeaten after their starting draw against Marbibor.

The “Oilers” couldn’t find their rhythm at the start, so Holstebro forged ahead to 7:5 thanks to their strong left back Michael Nielsen. But after the 6:9 Plock turned the match around. Paweł Paczkowski and Valentin Ghionea scored five straight goals to be ahead 12:10 – and Plock kept the advance until the break.

The Danes were not impressed and strengthened their defence including strong goalkeeper Anders Petersen. The consequence: Four minutes before the end Holstebro was in lead by three goals, as Wisla did not have their best day in attack. 50 second before the end Ghionea scored for 27:28, but right after that Orlen were dispelled by a goal from right wing Patrick Wiesmach Larsen for the decisive 29:27.

Top scorers were Ghionea (Plock) and Larsen and Nielsen (Holstebro) with six goals each.

Tvis coach Klavs Bruun Jørgensen saw “a very intensive match of two good teams. One team had a very strong attack the second was strong in a defence. The pressure we wanted to put by our defence was European top class and I was impressed that my team could stand it for 60 minutes.” Goalkeeper Anders Petersen was amazed by “a very tough game in a good atmosphere. We are very happy to get those two points and the group is open again. We played very good in defence - probably the best defence throughout all the season.”

Even Danish born Orlen Wisla coach Lars Walther praised the opponent: “Tvis played a fantastic game and had a fantastic Petersen in the goal. We cannot be satisfied. To be honest – I think we looked tired. A lot of our players lost their concentration. More or less nothing was working in our way of playing. I’m sure that we will get back these two points in Slovenia.”
For Orlen left back Petar Nenadić the attack was the key for the defeat, too: “We missed a lot of shots, because Tvis played fantastic in defence and we hadn’t been patient enough in attack. This defeat is bad for us but not terrible – as everything is still open. We know that we are one of the best teams in this competition.”

Group D:

SC Magdeburg (GER) vs. Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau (ROU) 33:25 (16:13)

After their clear victory against Besiktas in Round 1 (33:18), SC Magdeburg again had no problems in consolidating the lead in group D. For the Germans it was the 132th victory in the 197th international game, attended by 2355 spectators.

Magdeburg forged ahead to 10:4 in minute 18 by a counterattack of right wing Robert Weber, who finally became top scorer of the match by eleven goals. “We worked very concentrated in the opening period,” said Magdeburg coach Frank Carstens. But then several errors reduced the advance to only three goals at the break (16:13

After only three minutes in the second half Bacau lost their important defender Costel Manea after receiving a red card due to an attack against Andreas Rojewski “From that moment on we couldn´t play our aggressive defence system anymore,” Bacau coach Eliodor Voica said.

When Magdeburg led by seven goals (28:21) after 52 minutes the game was decided. Even Bacau´s top scorer Radu Cristian Ghita (five goals) was not able to change the result. “It was the second game we had to win,” said Frank Carstens. Bacau lost their second straight match after the home defeat against Nantes.

On Sunday the match HBC Nantes (FRA) vs. Besiktas JK (TUR) will complete this group.

TEXT: Björn Pazen