Kiel overcome bad start to beat MotorArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: The VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 schedule threw off in Györ, Hungary, where the 2012 winners made the first step towards quarter-finals.

Kiel overcome bad start to beat Motor

THW Kiel survived both the weak first half and the absence of their goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand as they beat HC Motor Zaporozhye 31:28 in the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 tie. Due to the political situation in Ukraine the match had to be played on neutral court in Györ, Hungary.

Filip Jicha and Marko Vujin scored seven goals each for Kiel, while Inal Aflitulin led Motor with six goals.

The three-time winners of the European top flight are expected to clinch the quarter-final ticket in the second leg, which will be played on Sunday, 30 March in the Kiel's Sparkassen Arena.

"It is good we could win this game as it was a very difficult match against a very skillful opponent. Motor have a good team. I think we have to improve in the second game. Everything is still open,“ THW coach Alfred Gislason predicted after the game.

VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, first leg:

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs TH Kiel (GER) 28:31 (14:16)

For Motor it was the second trip to Hungary in this season and after they lost by 16 goals in the group phase at Veszprem, they put a lot of effort not to repeat same mistakes against another favourites of the competition.

The Champions League newcomers had a great start to the game and led 3:0 and 4:1 mainly thanks to numerous saves of their goalkeepers Richard Stochl, who was the only Motor player familiar with Hungarian courts after spending several seasons in Dunaferr and Veszprem.

Although "zebras", who missed Sjöstrand because of the concussion, quickly responded and turn the tides to 9:8, they never really got in the rhythm and could not escape by more than two goals in the first half.

Even when Christian Zeitz increased to three-goal gap (25:22) 12 minutes before the end, the home team did not give up and with a three-goal string leveled the score.

However the team of Alfred Gislason quickly regained self-confidence and the three-goal lead seven minutes to go and this time they managed to maintained it until the final whistle.

"For a long time this game was completely open. In the first half we paid the price for our problems in defence, we could not control the ball. We had the chance to win by more than three goals at the end, but we failed, therefore we have to put a lot of effort in the second game,“ THW winger Christian Sprenger said.

It proved to be a good decision to find a new venue for the match in Hungary as locals lived up to expectations of being fans always hungry for handball as they nearly filled all places in the 3,000 seats arena. Although neither team could win their direct support, the match was played in a good atmosphere.

"First of all it is a big result for us that we are the part of the last 16. We had only five players who have ever played in the last 16 in the past and we faced one of the best teams of Europe. We have to work even harder in future in order to win against teams like Kiel. We will play our best in the second leg," Motor coach Sergiy Bebeshko promised.

Photo: Aniko Kovacs

TEXT: EHF / br