Kiel break the Cologne curseArticle
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Defending champions win second quarter-final 29:28 at Veszprém, end the Hungarian hopes and make it to the VELUX EHF FINAL 4 as the first team.

Kiel break the Cologne curse

THW Kiel have made it again. The German title holders are the first ever defending VELUX EHF Champions League champions to qualify for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 since the implementation of the final tournament in 2010. Like in the first leg (32:31 for THW) MKB Veszprém KC were on eye level on home ground, but finally the seven goals each of former Veszprém player Marko Vujin and Filip Jícha decided the rematch.

VELUX EHF Champions League winners in 2007, 2010 and 2012 – qualified for their sixth semi-final in the last seven years – the only exception was in 2011, when they failed as defending champions in the quarter-finals against Barcelona.

MKB Veszprém KC (HUN) vs THW Kiel (GER) 28:29 (14:12)
First leg: 31:32

THW team captain Marcus Ahlm was completely right, when naming Veszprém Aréna "the loudest arena of the world“ before the match. The Hungarian spectators caused a noise like hell, pushing their teams to the limit and even impressing the highly experienced squad of the defending champions.

Like in the first leg at Kiel, Veszprém dominated the first half and caused extremely problems to Kiel attackers. Most of their goals were scored by single actions of their top shooters like Filip Jícha or Marko Vujin. In position attack Kiel did not manage to break through the solid rock Veszprém defence, brilliantly organised by László Nagy and Timuzsin Schuch.

On the other side, Nagy also made the difference: four goals out of four attempts were his outcome after the first 30 minutes. An additional factor for the Veszprém lead at the break was that Nándor Fazekas clearly won the goalkeeper’s duel against Thierry Omeyer, who had not been supported by his defenders like Fazekas on the other side.

Veszprém went away to 5:1 and even did not get nervous when Kiel scored four consecutive goals to equalize, but remained calm, forging ahead to a three goals difference. And the advance at the break could even been higher than 14:12, but Iman Jamali missed his shot 20 seconds before the end at 14:11, while Daniel Narcisse hammered his throw into the net with the half-time whistle.

Kiel had the better re-start in the “battle for every centimeter”, equalizing within three minutes by 15:15, virtually being in Cologne again and from that moment on improving their defence. Forcing their fans to make even more noise, Veszprém were back, when Chema Rodriguez netted in for 19:16.

In contrast to the first leg, when Veszprém were away by six goals at 28:22, the game was on full eye level, latest when Narcisse equalized at 22:22 with 15 minutes left and Vujin’s sixth strike was the first lead of THW at 23:22 in minute 47, causing a time-out of Carlos Ortega, coach of MKB. But Jícha even extended the gap to 24:22, and the body language of the Veszprém players was anything but confident and relaxed.

Kiel held the upper hand as goalkeeper change from Omeyer to Palicka helped them too. And MKB were shocked even more, when goalkeeper Mirko Alilović had to leave the court with a hamstring injury. Ortega needed to use his time-out card again eight minutes before the end when Ahlm extended the gap to three goals for the first time at 26:23. Latest when Jícha scored the 29:26 the deal was sealed, though the host reduced the gap to one goal before the final whistle.

Statements after the match:

Alfred Gislason, coach THW Kiel: "Our defence performance in the second half was decisive. It was a brilliant match again like last week, and I was only sure that we made it to Cologne 30 seconds before the final whistle. Now we have broken the second curse: Until last year only the team which was in dressing room 1 in the LANXESS Arena won the trophy, we had dressing room 3. Now we are the first defending champions to make it to the VELUX EHF FINAL4."

Carlos Ortega, coach MKB Veszprém: "We started good in attack and led by 5:1, but finally Kiel were better in all crucial and decisive moments in the second half. They scored the important goals after the break, when we missed. So THW were better and deserved to qualify for Cologne."

Marko Vujin, player THW Kiel (former Veszprém player): "It was very difficult for us to play at Veszprém, we were embarrassed at first, but then we pulled ourselves together. We play our own game and our defence after the break was the winning key. Both teams would have deserved to be part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 after this battle."

Nándor Fazekas, goalkeeper Veszprém: "It is really hard to find any word after this match – only: Such is sport! This was a very painful defeat, Kiel did their job in a professional and efficient way."

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br