Kielce win Polish duel, while Vardar tie in thrillerArticle
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Paris give away a clear lead in Skopje, as Julen Aguinagalde is the hero in Plock and La Rioja take their first ever Champions League point.

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's News

Kielce win Polish duel, while Vardar tie in thriller

After Kiel and Veszprem, Kielce, Hamburg and Flensburg maintained their perfect after three rounds of the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase. Lucky Kielce won the Polish duel at Plock, while Hamburg and Flensburg march ahead in Group D.

Sunday’s thrillers took place in Halmstad, where La Rioja took their first point in the competition, and in Skopje, where Vardar showed an incredible final stage to catch up with Paris after trailing by a five goals with five minutes before the end.

Group B:

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs. KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) 28:30 (17:16)

While Kielce made it three from three, Plock lost their second straight match against a top opponent at home after the defeat to THW Kiel in their opener.

Like in the Polish league last week, Vive Targi Kielce took a close victory against the runners-up of their domestic league. However, the all-Polish duel was on a knife-edge for 60 minutes. In the whole match neither side managed to lead with more than three goals after minute nine, when Plock were away by 5:2.

Only seven minutes later the score was level again at 7:7 – and from that moment on a tough fight for every ball and every centimetre on the floor had started between both rivals. Plock took a highly close 17:16 lead to the dressing rooms, but Kielce returned stronger scoring three straight goals by Manuel Strlek (2) and the outstanding Julen Aguinagalde to get ahead again by 19:17. The Spanish world champion was the key for Kielce to march ahead to 26:23 after minute 47.

However, Plock fought hard, Kielce could not cast them off, and three minutes before the end, the home fans went crazy, pushing the “Oilers” to the limit, when everything was open again at 27:27. Finally a double strike by Aguinagalde, top scorer with nine goals, decided the thriller at Plock. Petar Nenadic was Plock’s best scorer with seven goals.

Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral (FRA) vs KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) 18:20 (7:12)

Dunkerque lost for the third time in as many games in a fierce Match of the Week battle against Kolding.

Despite a great start, thanks to an excellent Vincent Gérard between the posts, the French side could not keep up the pace and were soon overtaken by Kolding, who lead by five goals at half time (7-12), much to Patrick Cazal, Dunkerque's coach, disappointment.

“It's hard to understand that we can lose a game when we're starting in such a good manner. Our offense really failed to impress tonight,” admits Cazal.

Despite the coach’s dissatisfaction with his team, they had the chance to win a game, even narrowing the gap to one goal ten minutes before the end of the game, thanks to an excellent second half by Pierre Soudry, who managed to score past the otherwise unbeatable Kasper Hvidt.

However, the brilliant Lasse Andersson, the 19-year-old is already becoming a key player in Kolding's squad, was the match winner with his seven goals and killed Dunkerque's hopes.

"We lost some balls that we shouldn't have, like we did against Plock. It's even more frustrating when it happens this way,” recognises Pierre Soudry, Dunkerque's top scorer with five goals.

In Kolding's camp, everyone was smiling after the game, especially Henrik Kronbirg, the coach: “We're very happy to have won, even though we had injured players. It was a very important game for us, against a direct opponent for the qualification.”

Group C:

HC Vardar (MKD) - Skopje vs. PSG Handball (FRA) 24:24 (9:12)

The sold-out Boris Trajkovski Arena saw another historic match: After Vardar had tied with Barcelona in round 1 and Metalurg had beaten Paris St. Germain in Round 2, the “fortress” of Skopje went crazy again. When Paris’ striker Mikkel Hansen scored his seventh goal in minute 55, the deal seemed to be sealed for the French champions, leading 24:19 with five minutes left on the clock.

But in Skopje you can never be sure: Vardar scored an incredible series of five straight goals in the last five minutes and even had the chance to win with their final attack. Chipurin, Dibirov, Dujshebajev, Brumen and finally Karacic scored this impressive series, which meant that Paris cannot win at Skopje. After Hansen’s final shot was blocked, Vardar even had the last attack, but after a time-out in the dying seconds missed the goal.

The match was equal until the score of 7:6 – the last Vardar lead until the final whistle. Then Paris forged ahead to the halftime result of 12:9 – thanks to their brilliant defence.

But the wall was shaken, when Croat Jakov Gojun received a red card after his third two minutes suspension after only 41 minutes. Vardar grabbed their chance, equalised again at 14:14. Backed by their goalkeeper Patrice Annonay, then Paris stopped Skopje’s upswing and seemed to pave the way to victory with a clear five goal lead – but it was not enough to take the Boris Trajkovski fortress.

Top scorers were Hansen with seven goals for the French side and Mikhail Chipurin, netting six times for Vardar.

Group D:

Aalborg Handball (DEN) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER) 26:28 (14:14)

Defending champions HSV Hamburg kept their clean sweep after three matches, but had to struggle hard to take both points from Aalborg. “It was a really tough and close match though Aalborg missed some injured players.

"We were close to stumble, but finally we did not fall,” said Hamburg coach Martin Schwalb, while his Danish counterpart Nicolaj Jakobsen added: “I am proud of my team. We did not have anything to lose today, but we will take a huge amount of confidence from today’s performance. We were close to equalize, but finally the Hamburg victory is deserved.”

It was a Dane who was the key for the success of the German side: Goalkeeper Marcus Cleverly, who saved 18 Aalborg shots. Zarko Markovic, Pascal Hens (both Hamburg), Nicolai Nygaard Pedersen, Morten Andreas Slundt and Mads Mensah Larsen (all Aalborg) were the top scorers with five goals each.

The Danish host started strong and led by 6:2 after only ten minutes, before Hamburg started their engines, boosted by the goals of Markovic. At 11:11 the match was level for the first time – and the balanced scoring remained until the break.

Schwalb changed his team in the second half, bringing experienced players like Pascal Hens onto the court – but Aalborg still level. A double strike by Slundt brought the Danes back into the lead at 16:15, but afterwards HSV were ahead constantly, but close. The 22:20 was the first two goal advance for the German side. Finally Danish wing Hans Lindberg sealed the deal by scoring the 28:26.

Hamburg still top the group by six points, Aalborg remain on two points – but have both matches against German teams in the first half of the Group Phase already behind them.

HK DROTT Halmstad (SWE) vs. Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) 35:35 (15:19)

Naturhouse La Rioja did not know after the final whistle, whether they should jump for joy for their first point in the VELUX EHF Champions League, or if they should be disappointed after letting an away victory slip from their hands.

The Spaniards were in lead until the final stages of a then dramatic and thrilling encounter of two teams, which had been without a point before. Thanks to a strong performance of Aidenas Malasinskas La Rioja were dominant in the first half, leading by four goals.

When Halmstad’s goal machine, junior world champion Philip Stenmalm (top scorer with ten goals), started his engines, the match changed. The Swedish champions were even down by six goals at 17:23 – before an injury to Malasinskas turned the match around completely.

Thanks to a 7:3 run, Halmstad were close at 24:26, then equalised at 31:31. The final minutes were full of excitement, and when Drott hit the net to make it 35:35, the last chance was on La Rioja’s side, but the Spaniards missed a penalty shot in the dying seconds. La Rioja's best shooters were Fernandez and Masachs with five goals each.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 35:31 (16:13)

Third match, third victory – just like their league rivals HSV Hamburg, SG Flensburg-Handewitt remain with a clear sweep. Due to their weaker goal difference Flensburg rank second below Hamburg.

The German runners-up had numerous chances to increase their winning margain against Velenje, but were not concentrated enough in the final stages with the victory already secure. Velenje remain on two points, like Aalborg they are already four points behind the leading German duo.

The Slovenians had the top scorer of their match in their squad: Mario Sostaric, who found the net nine times. The top Flensburg shooter was Danish player of the year, Anders Eggert, with seven goals.

Despite the early injury of their playmaker Thomas Mogensen in the first minute, Flensburg easily forged ahead to an 8:1 advance after only ten minutes thanks to goalkeeper Mathias Anderson.

Before the break the German side decelerated and allowed Velenje to get closer with too many mistakes in attack. Led by Klemen Cehte, the Slovenians were down by only three goals at the break.

However, thanks to the better start in the second half, they raced into a 24:17 lead after 40 minutes and Flensburg went on to deservedly take the two points.

TEXT: Björn Pazen, Kevin Domas / cor