All-Macedonian clash in Group CArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: For the first time in the VELUX EHF Champions League history two teams from one city will play in the Group Phase as Metalurg and Vardar will cross their swords in Group C.

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's News

Metalurg head back to Group C to join Vardar

The VELUX EHF Champions League history will have a new interesting chapter written this season as two teams from the same city will face each other in the Group Phase. Two fierce rivals from the Macedonian capital Skopje will meet twice in Group C as Metalurg qualified through the Wild Card knock-out match against Pick Szeged.

Hungarian runners-up beat last season's quarter-finalists 23:19, but all in all it was not enough as they brought a ten goal deficit from the first leg. Szeged's pilgrimage through handball Europe does not end yet as they will participate in the third qualification round of the EHF Cup.

Wild Card play off, second leg:

Pick Szeged vs HC Metalurg 23:19 (11:7)

First leg: 16:26, on aggregate 39:45

After the 10 goals defeat the moral among Pick supporters was quite bad, they were disappointed and many of them had already written their team off. The more optimistic ones tried to believe in a miracle and recall season 1993/94, when Szeged overcame a twelve goals deficit with Ukrainian side from Brovary.

Despite a severe blow received in Skopje five days ago, the capacity crowd 3,000 spectators flock in the Városi Sportcsarnok. Pick had a successful start of the chase and cut four goals off the deficit even before the break, but were held at bay by Metalurg in the second half.

"Our coach said after the first match that it had seemed as if we had given up the match in the middle of the second half and this hurt him. It is possible to make mistakes but it is not allowed to give up," Szeged's goalkeeper Roland Mikler said. On Sunday Pick didn’t give up but it wasn’t enough for a miracle.

Szeged's sniper František Šulc was the best scorer of the match with seven goals, Metalurg's Pavel Atman responded with five.

"Congratulations to our opponents. My team fought bravely and we tried everything we could in the attack. We led twice by six goals, unfortunately this was not enough. If we had moved one goal closer it could have been much more thrilling," Pick's coach Juan Carlos Pastor said.

"I was delighted to see that the second leg was played in such a fantastic atmosphere. I did not expect such a difficult game. I know the work of my colleague Juan Carlos Pastor and I am convinced that he is building a very strong team. I hope both teams will experience a big success in European club competitions this season," Metalurg's coach Lino Červar said after the match.

Metalurg's back court player Filip Mirkulovski is now looking forward to the Group Phase. “I am satisfied since our goal was to play in the Champions League. We reached this dream so we are very happy. We were better at home, but here we played after a long trip and it was more difficult," he said.

"The main point is that we could win and it is not so important now how we played. In the Champions League our group is very attractive with Barcelona, PSG and the local rival Vardar but we definitely want to reach one of the first 4 positions. Our goal is to qualify for the next phase and then there are two matches so anything can happen,” Mirkulovski added.

TEXT: Nóra Forgó / br