Barca, Kiel and Kielce proceed to next stageArticle
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Spanish, German and Polish champions make it to the quarter-finals by home victories

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Barca, Kiel and Kielce proceed to next stage

After Hamburg, Flensburg, Skopje and Veszprém before, Vive Targi Kielce (for the first time ever), THW Kiel and FC Barcelona (for the 14th time in club history each) have clinched their berth for the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

So all group winners of the first stage and three of four runners-up have made it to the round of the last eight teams. The only third ranked team from the group stage to qualify for the quarter-finals are Atletico Madrid.

Defending champion Kiel, last season's finalist Madrid, Flensburg and Metalurg Skopje will be in Pot 2 of the draw on Tuesday, waiting for a group winner (Veszprém, Barcelona, Kielce and Hamburg) to compete with.

Last 16, second leg:

THW Kiel (GER) vs. Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) 30:26 (17:10)

Like Barcelona, like Kiel: Both powerhouses of international club handball have made it to the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League for the 13th time in their 16th participation each.

After the 35:37 defeat at Chekhov in the first leg, the defending champions showed a brilliant performance for 40 minutes, but then lacked concentration to win even clearer against the Russian champions. After a close start the saves of goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer and the atmosphere of 10.250 spectators boosted the German side, which started the “full speed mode” in minute 15, racing away from 9:8 to the half-time score of 17:10.

And the hunger was not satisfied: Thanks to counter attacks and hammer shots from the back court area, the margin was extended goal by goal and in minute 38 Kiel were ahead by ten goals for the first (and only) time at 23:13.

But from that moment on, THW gave the control from their hands, missing too many chances – and Medvedi rushed closer to a four goal margin at 24:28. But when Marko Vujin scored the next goal, the resistance of the Russians was finally broken and Medvedi could not endanger the defending champions anymore, though the final result does not reflect the Kiel dominance.

FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) 26:24 (12:13)

As expected, EHF Champions League record champions FC Barcelona Intersport have qualified for the quarter-finals. After the clear 32:26 away victory at Denmark, the burden for Bjerringbro Silkeborg was too tough, but the Danes showed again a highly strong performance with a great moral until the end. The Catalans are among the best eight for the 13th time in club history, while BSV had played their first ever Last 16.

Bjerringbro Silkeborg had nothing to lose – and this was the way they played in the first 15 minutes. The Danes easily marched on to 8:5, while goalkeeper Yannick Green saved brilliant. And only thanks to Siarhei Rutenka (in the end top scorer with nine strikes), who scored five of the first nine Barca goals, the seven times champions did not have even bigger problems. But Barcelona returned, improved their defence as the number of mistakes in the BSV attack arose – so the equalizer was just a matter of time and occurred in minute 20 at the 9:9, causing a time-out of the Danes.

But BSV still did not surrender, and Dennis Kirkegaard scored for the 13:12 half-time lead right with the buzzer.

And it took until minute 35, when the fourth goal of Raul Entrerrios (in total seven strikes) meant the first Barcas lead at 15:14, as still the Catalans had not found their usual style of attacking against the movable Danish defence. But at 18:15 the spell was broken for the Catalans, who had lost their last home match in any competitions 13 months ago (29:30 against Zagreb).

A BSV time-out at 18:21 in minute 48 came too late to turn the match around, as Barcelona now played much cleverer and more efficient than before the break, especially in defence.

But still BSV top scorer Casper Mortensen wanted to prove his ambitions, his eighth and last goal meant the 21:24 four minutes before the end.

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. Pick Szeged (HUN) 32:27 (14:11)

For the first time ever a Polish club is among the eight teams of the VELUX EHF Champions League. After failing twice in Last 16 rounds of the previous seasons, Vive Targi Kielce will have their debut in this stage after taking their eleventh victory in their twelfth match of this season. The 26:25 advance of Pick Szeged was not enough for them to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004.

Though they had to replace their injured top scorer František Šulc, Szeged were on eye level until the 9:9 in the middle of the second half. But thanks to the counter attacks of Þórir Ólafsson and the saves of goalkeeper Sławomir Szmal, Kielce forged ahead to 13:10 in minute 26 – and were virtually also in the quarter-finals at the half time score of 14:11. But still Szeged’s Swedish back court ace Jonas Larholm caused trouble for the Polish champions.

After the break, the Hungarians had problems to stop the express of Kielce, which extended the gap to 19:14 and from the 21:17 on, the yellow and blue wall on the stands started singing and shouting.

Despite a huge number of saves of their goalkeeper Roland Mikler, Szeged were down by five goals again at 20:25 in minute 46 – and took their time-out to stop the downswing. But latest at 29:23 in minute 53, the first ever VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-final berth of Vive Targi Kielce had been confirmed.

Another Szeged time-out 90 seconds before the end at 25:31 was useless, while on the other side scorer Uroš Zorman jumped for joy, and after the final whistle coach Bogdan Wenta was hugged by club boss Bertus Servaas.

Top scorers were Larholm and Ólafsson with eight goals each, Prodanović scored seven times for the visitors.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br