Kielce close to their ticket to CologneArticle
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Polish champions win first leg at Skopje 27:25

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Kielce close to their ticket to Cologne

Metalurg Skopje need an away miracle next weekend, if they want to reach the final destination Cologne in the VELUX EHF Champions League. The Macedonian champions lost the first leg on home ground against brilliant Polish champions Vive Targi Kielce by 25:27 after an equal first half (13:13)

In contrast, Kielce are highly close to the biggest success in club history – the VELUX EHF FINAL4 - which had been the objective from the start of the season on. As Metalurg lost their third match in this season against the team of coach Bogdan Wenta (and even clearer than the one before), Kielce took their 12th victory in their 13th VELUX EHF Champions League match in this season.

Like the two duels in the Group Phase (23:21 and 21:20) for Kielce, the quarter-final was a full defence battle. And Metalurg were clearly more efficient in their fight in the opening stage. Backed by strong goalkeeper Darko Stanić and a solid rock middle block the Macedonians managed to stop the Kielce attacks and avoided their counter-attacks.

In the middle of the first half the advance had arose to three goals at 9:6 – and Kielce in this stage lacked the ideas to break through.

But all in a sudden everything changed. Kielce improved in defence, caused some turnovers after the 13:10, equalized by three straight goals until the break, turned the match completely by netting in for 14:13 – and even extending the gap to 18:16 in minute 40.

Metalurg had enormous problems to score: The Macedonians hit the net only four times in 17 minutes (including two penalty goals) and were down by four goals for the first time at 17:21, when coach Lino Červar took his time-out.

But as Kielce continued like a Swiss clockwork and Metalurg still were stopped by a Polish defence wall. The distance remained by three to four goals most of the time, with Metalurg struggling hard to get closer and Kielce playing highly sovereign in defence and attack.

Latest when Uroš Zorman stroke for the 25:20, the winner was confirmed, but Skopje did everything they could to reduce the gap – and those final two goals leave them still a small chance to turn the encounter around, though Kielce have won all their home matches by now.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br