3/4 Place: KS Vive Targi Kielce 31:30 (19:12) THW KielArticle
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Polish champions secure third after 31:30 win despite brilliant Kiel catch-up

Kielce tumble, but did not fall


KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. THW Kiel (GER) 31:30 (19:12)

There was a big surprise at the end of this thrilling match - KS Vive Targi Kielce secured third in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and received their bronze medals from Leopold Kalin (EHF Competitions Commission) and Arne Elovsson (EHF Vice-President) after beating THW Kiel in a close match after a seven goal advance at the break.
Kiel were fully off the pace in the first 30 minutes, while Vive Targi took the match 100% seriously. After Kiel hit the post and goal bar four times in the first four minutes, the three time Champions League winners lost their pace in attack completely, while Kielce defended brilliantly.
Thanks to the sensational performance of their Croatian veteran goalkeeper Venjo Losert (16 saves in total) and their sharp counter attacks they ran over the Germans with waves of full-speed goals. Kiel seemed to surrender very early, as their defence could not stop the Polish storm or was too slow to return.
Coach Alfred Gislason took his first time-out with the score at 9:4 for Kielce in the 14th minute, and only four minutes later he threw the green card on the officials table again, when the Polish express had extended the gap to incredible and never expected nine goals at 14:5.
Kielce were much more clever in attack, grabbing a huge number of steals, while Kiel lacked concentration. The Croatian wing duo Manuel Strlek and Ivan Cupic (who had scored the first three Kielce goals on his own) punished the defending champions, who obviously had missed their wake-up call this morning, really hard.
Unusually Kiel needed 26 minutes to score 10 goals, while Kielce at this time already netted 17 times. The only Kiel player, who reached his usual performing level before the break, was former World Handball Player Filip Jicha, but even his goals could not prevent his team being below by 12:19.
Right after the break – and boosted by the goals of Serbian line player Rastko Stojkovic – Kielce kept a comfortable distance from Kiel but the Germans returned on the court much more passionate than they were before the break. They reduced the gap to only four goals in the 46th minute (25:21) after they managed to score those easy goals, which Kielce had scored in the first half.
Thanks to the bigger numbers of top class options on the bench THW took the profit of Kielce slowing getting tired. But the VELUX EHF FINAL4 debutants struggled hard to take a prestigious victory. THW goalkeeper Andreas Palicka improved, but his teammates still lacked efficiency in attack.
But then Icelandic left wing Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson went into turbo, scoring three counter-attacks in just two minutes, reducing the gap to just one goal at 26:27 in the 53th minute – Kielce were shaken but did not lie down as strikes from Cupic and then Strlek secured a three goals advance again.
After the final Gislason time-out Kiel staked everything on one card, going full speed in attack. The match was on the edge. Kiel had a great chance to equalise for the first time 28 seconds before the end, but Momir Ilic’s penalty shot hit the goal bar with the score at 31:30.
THW even got one more attack five seconds before the end after a turnover. But in the hectic final seconds, when Denis Buntic received a red card after attacking goalkeeper Palicka, Filip Jicha missed the very last chance of the dethroned champions.
The Kielce players jumped on the court, their fans shouted their souls out – after this biggest success in club history; finishing third in the VELUX EHF FINAL4. 

TEXT: Bjorn Pazen/amc