Kielce tame the Zebras; first Vardar victoryArticle
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MATCH REPORT: Polish champions dominant against Kiel, while their German compatriots from Flensburg take a lucky draw

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's News

Kielce tame Zebras again, first Vardar victory

Round 4 of the VELUX EHF Champions League continued on Saturday with three matches. While Vardar Skopje took their first group phase win at Wacker Thun (still waiting for their first point), Vive Targi Kielce celebrated a crucial win against THW Kiel, securing the top spot in this group.

Kiel’s neighbours Flensburg narrowly avoided their first defeat with a lucky draw at La Rioja.

Group B:

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. THW Kiel (GER) 34:29 (17:11)

Kielce have proved their ambitions and their qualities by remaining the only team of Group B still with a clean sweep. Winning their fourth straight match did not only mean to remain on top, but to show that beating Kiel at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in June was not a “one hit wonder”.

The success against the three-time champions was fully deserved and was backed by eight goals of Michal Jurecki, who came out in the top scorer duel against Filip Jicha (seven goals for Kiel).

The first 20 minutes failed to really seperate the sides, though Kielce had the better start. At 7:7 Kiel caused too many mistakes and missed too many chances, the Poles punished these mistakes and forged ahead 14:8, causing some changes in the THW line-up.

However, very little changed and Kielce were purely dominant, taking an unexspected clear six goal advance to the dressing room (17:11) and even added an early second half goal by Julen Aguinagalde. Aguinagalde's strike was something of a wake-up call for Kiel. By scoring four straight goals, they were quite close again.

Anyone who thought the match would turn around was wrong and the arena in Kielce, packed with 4,000 spectators, went crazy when the host team again made their way – to finally decide the match at 28:21, thanks to the counter attack goals of Ivan Cupic, who scored seven goals on the night. In the end, Kielce were clearly the better team both in defence and attack.

Group C:

Wacker Thun (SUI) vs. HC Vardar Skopje (MKD) 24:37 (11:19)

In their fourth match of the campaign, HC Vardar Skopje convincingly won away against Wacker Thun. Thanks to a strong overall team performance (four players scoring five or more goals) Vardar took their first win in this year’s competition, while the Swiss hosts still wait for their first points.

“We were clearly the weaker side today, the result is very disappointing. I am not satisfied at all with our defensive performance, we caused far too many mistakes,” Wacker coach Martin Rubin stated after the match.

Vardar player Stojanche Stoilov was pleased after the game: “We are very happy with today’s result, we knew that we are the better team, so we came here to win. We achieved our goal. Defensively we were very solid today, our goalies made some great saves as well”.

The interim coach of the Macedonian champions Andon Boshkovski said how important this match was for his team.

“We knew we had to win here if we want to reach the Last 16. I congratulate my players for their first victory in this year’s Champions League," said Boshovski.

Wacker Thun’s best player Reto Friedli was disappointed with their second game in front of their fans: “We made far too many mistakes today, especially in defence, our goalies were left alone too often. Vardar were better".

Only in the first eight minutes of the game the Swiss champions and cup winners could keep up with Vardar, when they equalised at 4:4, but from that point onwards the guests stepped up one or two gears.

Within five minutes they took a four goal lead, with Wacker Thun not finding the back of the net at all, coach Rubin decided to take a timeout. However, the timeout could not stop Vardar’s momentum. They took an eight goal lead into the break (11:19), the Swiss hosts often failing to bring the ball past goalkeeper Petar Angelov, himself producing some big saves.

The second half was similar to the end of the first half, Wacker Thun not capitalising on their chances and the guests often scoring on the break.

When Filip Lazarov scored a wonderful in-flight goal ten minutes into the second half for the 14:26, it was clear to all of the 1,625 spectators that this would not be the day for Wacker Thun to pick up their first points. With Vardar shifting down a gear in the last 20 minutes of the game, the lead didn’t increase further, but they had done more than enough to head home happy.

Group D:

Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 32:32 (13:19)

Thriller in Logrono: with a last second goal, SG Flensburg-Handewitt avoided their first defeat in this season's competition – and shattered the hopes of La Rioja for their first vixtory. After the draw at Halmstad one week ago, the Spaniards let another possible win slip away against the German side, which had been absolutely dominant in the first half.

After just nine minutes, Flensburg, backed by the strike of right back Weinhold, who scored six of his seven goals before the break, were away by 7:3 and after 20 minutes the lead stood at 13:9. The hosts still could not stop the German storm until the break, as Flensburg seemed to be on the road to victory at half-time with the score at 19:13.

When Anders Eggert hit the net for the 20:13 the deal was supposed to be sealed, but then La Rioja showed character and it took only twelve minutes until the distance had melted to just three goals at 20:23.

In the same time Flensburg lost their pace and rhythm completely, the host rose like phoenix from ashes, decreasing the gap even more and, frenetically cheered by their fans, equalised at 28:28 after scoring three consecutive goals.

From that moment onwards everything was open again and La Rioja had momentum on their side – especially when they took their first lead of the match at 30:29.

The Spanish defence stood like a wall in the final stages of the match and Flensburg lacked the ideas. 50 seconds before the end, leading 32:31, La Rioja took their final time-out.

Much to the disappointment of the home fans, the Spaniards failed in their last attack against Flensburg goalkeeper Mathias Andersson and Steffen Weinhold finished his brilliant performance by scoring the equaliser right with the final whistle.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor