Crucial wins for Plock and La RiojaArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: First ever VELUX EHF Champions League victory brings Spaniards on fourth position, while Poles take the points from Porto.

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Crucial wins for Plock and La Rioja

After defending champions HSV Hamburg beat SG Flensburg in Saturday’s top duel before, Plock and La Rioja took crucial victories to strenghten their positions in the race for the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Group B:

FC Porto (POR) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) 20:24 (9:14)

By winning at Porto, Plock confirmed their fourth position in this group and are two points ahead of the Portuguese newcomers now. Already the rematch next weekend at Plock can all but decide about the chances of both teams to reach the Last 16.

The Polish runners-up took their second away victory, while they still wait for their first point on home court. Despite eight goals of Joao Ferraz, Porto were hopeless against the internationally more experienced visitors, who additionally had more and better options on the bench.

Surprisingly Porto started in express mode, leading 5:1, before Plock scored four consecutive times and later took full control of the match after the 9:8 lead, which they extended to a five-goal margin at the break (14:9), mostly because goalkeeper Marin Sego had already saved ten Porto shots.

In the second half the Plock lead was constantly between four and five goals, so the victory was never endangered and the match was decided, when Plock top scorer Petar Nenadic (six goals in total) hit the net for the 24:18, six minutes before the end.

Group D:

Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs. Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 34:31 (15:13)

Historic day in Logrono. By beating the Slovenian champions from Velenje, Naturhouse La Rioja took their first ever VELUX EHF Champions League victory in the club history. After two draws against Halmstad and Flensburg the time for the Spaniards had come to double their points.

Thanks to this result La Rioja passed their opponents in the ranking and are equal with Danish side Aalborg with four points, but six points below the group leaders Hamburg, who beat Flensburg earlier that day. After winning their opener against Halmstad, Velenje now lost four straight matches to remain on two points.

La Rioja currently have the better cards in the struggle for the fourth position and the qualification for the Last 16.

After an equal start the Brazilians Thiago dos Santos and Arthur Patrianovo were the keys why the Spaniards marched ahead from 5:5 to 15:11, the first four-goal distance in this match. After the break the result roller-coaster turned its direction several times. First Velenje took the upper hand by equalizing and forging ahead to 22:18, then La Rioja scored four straight goals to level the match again.

From that moment on the match was fully equal – and Velenje had the great chance to win being in lead 31:30 – but as the hosts scored the last four goals, the deal was sealed for La Rioja, for which Angel Fernandez scored ten times. Sebastian Skube stroke seven times for Velenje.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br