Kiel on course for group victoryArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: Three-time EHF Champions League winners take the spoils in the Match of the Week at KIF Kolding Kobenhavn to consolidate their top position in Group B

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Kiel on course for group victory

It was a 60 minute struggle, it was a fight on highest level of two top teams, but finally THW Kiel took the upper hand to gain an important victory in the Match of the Week.

With the 26:24 (13:13) victory in Bröndby against KIF Kolding-Kobenhavn, the three-time EHF Champions League winners increased the distance between them and their hunters KIF and Kielce to four points and need only a draw in their upcoming home match against Kielce next Sunday to confirm victory in this group.

But their seventh win in eight matches (including 29:26 in the first leg against the Danes) was extremely hard-earned, as the hosts stood strong in defence including their superb goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt. But in the end, Kiel had more options in attack and defence to decide this thriller.

Despite along list of injuries, including former THW player Kim Andersson, KIF Kolding-Kobenhavn were close for the entire 60 minutes. Attended by more than 5,000 spectators in the Bröndby Hallen (among them more than 500 from Kiel), the Danes compensated what was lacking in attack with a rock-solid defence, including a strong performance from Hvidt.

The KIF defenders forced THW Kiel into a series of turnovers, then punished by counter-attack goals, mainly by Stefan Hundstrup. But their back court was fully controlled by Kiel’s strong middle block in the initial stages. Kiel, who secured group victory in the same arena two years ago by beating AG Kobenhavn, counted on the goals of two former AGK players before the break: Niklas Ekberg (THW top scorer with seven goals) and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson.

In a brilliant atmosphere, Kiel had the better start despite the big number of turnovers. Most of the time in the first 20 minutes THW were away by two goals and even once at 8:5, by three strikes. But after a time-out KIF found their rhythm and even started to score from the back court positions. Thanks to three straight goals they equalised at 8:8 and even took the lead once – but right after the 13:12 lead, Filip Jicha netted in for the halftime score of 13:13.

The match at Bröndby was something special for Kiel’s Dane Rasmus Lauge, who had his comeback after nearly four month injury break – and Lauge scored his first goal at 6:4 for his team.

In the last minutes before the break, Lauge’s countryman at KIF’s left back position, Lasse Andersson, found his way through the THW defence.

Five minutes after the break, the Danish fans were shocked, when KIF’s Spaniard Albert Rocas hit the advertisement board with his head and needed a few minutes of treatment on the bench. And in this period, THW forged ahead to a three goal lead (18:15) after a double strike of Serbian right back Marko Vujin.

As his team had problems in attack and in stopping uprising THW team captain Filip Jicha, KIF assistant Bilal Suman coach took his second time-out at 17:20 after 42 minutes, but his words remained unheard in the next minutes, Kiel even marched ahead to their first four-goal lead at 22:18.  

In the middle of the second half, Lasse Andersson improved – but his six goals were the only remarkable strikes of his team in this period, who were backed by the saves of Kasper Hvidt. Suddenly Kiel lost their patience in attack, missed too many chances and allowed KIF to rise again in a high class encounter.

When Albert Rocas finished a 5:1 series through a penalty for the equaliser at 23:23, the Bröndby Halle went crazy and Gislason had seen enough, using his third time-out six minutes before the end to stop the downswing.

The highly thrilling final stages were started by a double strike for THW for 26:24 four minutes before the end, leading to the next time-out, this time requested by KIF. When Kiel’s goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand saved two important shots from a rushed Bo Spellerberg, Kiel marched to a two-goal victory and take full control of Group B with just two matches left to play.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor