Hamburg march ahead to Last 16Article
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MATCH REVIEW: Defending champions without any problems against La Rioja, as Velenje take first away win of the season

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Hamburg march ahead to Last 16

The second Last 16 participant of the VELUX EHF Champions League season 2013/14 is confirmed. After MKB-MVM Veszprém made it to the knock-out stage in the previous round, defending champions HSV Hamburg followed the Hungarians after an easy-going victory against La Rioja on Wednesday evening.

And the Spaniards were even hit twice, as their main opponent for the fourth position in Group D, Gorenje Velenje, won at Halmstad and passed La Rioja in the ranking.

Group D:

HK DROTT Halmstad (SWE) vs. RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 32:40 (14:21)

Scoring 19 of 40 goals the duo Mario Šoštarić (10) and Niko Medved (9) were the match winners of Gorenje Velenje at their first away victory in this Group Phase. The Slovenian champions made another major step towards the knock-out stage after winning the direct encounter against La Rioja, while Halmstad’s hopes for the Last 16 remain on the bottom with still only one point. Best scorer of the Swedish champions was Magnus Persson with six goals.

The hosts were only dominant until they took a 6:5 lead, then a 7:0 run of goals for Velenje turned the match around completely – and from that moment on Gorenje did not give the lead from their hands. They kept the seven goal margin until the break, and when Halmstad surrendered, Velenje extended the gap to double-figures at 28:18.

Having the victory in mind Velenje decelerated in the finals stages and allowed Halmstad to reduce the gap to eight goals – but the clear away victory had not been endangred at any moment.

Velenje finish the international year with six points in their account, two points ahead of La Rioja in the battle for the crucial fourth rank.

HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) 34:27 (17:12)

HSV Hamburg have fully recovered from their first international defeat in Round 6 against their local rivals Flensburg. Thanks to their sixth victory in seven matches they clinched their berth for the Last 16 and will definitely remain on top position of this group until the end of the EHF EURO break. “We want to finish first”, is the clear statement of HSV defender Davor Dominikovic before the upcoming three group matches.

Just like the first leg, Hamburg left no doubt as to which team will win. Although La Rioja stood strong in the first 25 minutes and the winner was confirmed quite early.

Counting on another great performance of goalkeeper Marcus Cleverly (twelve saves in total), HSV took a clear lead very early, but could not seal the deal before the break by causing a huge number of technical mistakes.

After the five goal margin at halftime, another double strike decided the match, in which the biggest gap was a Hamburg 24:15 lead. When the winner was confirmed, Hamburg started a huge rotation, saving their powers for the upcoming domestic challenges.

Thanks to their top scorers Thiagus Goncalvez and Lusi Felipe Jimenez (six goals each) La Rioja managed to avoid a double-figure defeat final result, but were fully chanceless against the sovereign German side.

The best Hamburg scorer was line player Andreas Nilsson, also scoring six times.

TEXT: Björn Pazen