Celje make it to the Last 16, Sävehof outArticle
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Slovenian team win decisive encounter at Sävehof, while Barcelona take away victory in Minsk.

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Celje make it to the Last 16, Sävehof out

Team number 14 has been confirmed: Thanks to their fourth victory in the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League, RK Pivovarna Laško Celje have qualified for the knock-out stage as fourth ranked team of Group B.

The former winners of the top European club competition from Slovenia could have even lost by six goals in their match at Gothenburg, but they took the game against Sävehof IK highly seriously and beat the Swedish champions 29:24. Thanks to this result, two teams from the Slovenian league have made it among the 16 best teams of the VELUX EHF Champions League, after Gorenje Velenje had qualified earlier.

In contrast to the 2011/12 season, Sävehof missed the knock-out stage.

In Group D, Dinamo Minsk showed a high class performance on home ground against big FC Barcelona Intersport, but finally lost this match with lower significance, as Barcelona had been confirmed group winner before and Minsk could not move, neither up nor down from rank three.

Group B:

IK Sävehof (SWE) – RK Pivovarna Laško Celje (SLO) 24:29 (10:14)

Thanks to a brilliant defence and goalkeeping performance and the much bigger will to win, Celje took the points, they even did not need to proceed.

The hopes of the host to march through to the Last 16 had already been shattered at the break: The 10:14 meant, that Sävehof at this time needed to catch-up eleven goals in the remaining 30 minutes –  impossible against a team like Celje.

The Slovenian outfit had taken the control of the match very early and were away by 9:6 and even 12:7 in minute 22, before Sävehof improved and came closer in a really tough match with a big number of injury interruptions.

But the home team, who lost their eight straight match in the Group Phase and remained at four points, were below the visitors in all departments also after the break. Goalkeeper Urban Lesjak shut up his shop, the Celje defence stood like a wall and in attack the young guns scored from all positions. Top scorer was again Gašper Marguč by nine goals.

When the score was 24:18, the Celje fans in Gothenburg jumped for joy. And their team kept this six goal lead nearly until the final stages.

Group D:

Dinamo Minsk (BLR) vs. FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) 28:30 (13:18)

FC Barcelona Intersport finished the Group Phase victorious taking their ninth win in their tenth match. But like in the highly close first leg, the underdogs from Minsk were nearly on eye level – though they had to replace on their top stars, Sergyi Onufriyenko.

A Belarusian in the Barca shirt was the hero of the evening: In his first time ever to be in a guest team at a match in his home-country, Siarhei Rutenka became top scorer by ten goals.

After a 7:4 Barcelona lead, Minsk levelled the game by three straight goals, but then were overran by Barca counter attacks, bringing the Catalans the biggest gap at 17:11 in minute 28.

In the second half Dinamo improved, and it took the hosts only nine minutes to nearly turn the match around completely, when Vaško Ševaljević netted for the 19:20.

But this goal was the wake-up call for the favourites, as then they forged ahead to 26:22, and finally had decided the game at 30:25, before Minsk again could reduce.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br