Russians lead Vardar to a draw against defending championsArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: After Barcelona and PSG even the defending champions failed to take the Skopje's fortress as HSV only tied Vardar 28:28

Russians lead Vardar to a draw against defending champions

The defending VELUX EHF Champions League winners could not stop unbeaten run of Skopje teams in the Boris Trajkovski arena against foreign sides, but still their 28:28 draw keep the chances of HSV live ahead of the second leg of the Last 16.

VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, first leg:
HC Vardar Skopje (MKD) vs HSV Hamburg (GER) 28:28 (14:16)

In their first Last 16 match in the club's history the Macedonian champions Vardar entered with fully open cards against the current trophy holders.

The Bundesliga team finished this season group phase as the most efficient team winning 18 points out of 20 and before the arrival in Skopje they had known that they had to play against Vardar's eight player, which is composed of 8,000 people eager for victories.  

The opening minutes belonged to the German team and the amazing Stefan Schröder scored 4 out of 6 goals for his team before the first time-out of the match which came early in the seventh minute of the match.

An increasing gap between both teams forced the Vardar coach Raul Gonzalez to change all three goalkeepers in the first fifteen minutes of the match.

Vardar did not benefit a lot in the first half from a return of a recovered Spanish rising star Alex Dujshebaev, while their opponents had the unstoppable Schröder who scored his 900th goal in HSV jersey eight minutes before the break.

In the last minutes of the first half, Angelov successfully saved a few shots with which brought Vardar back trailing just by two. And they erased that deficit right after the second half had started thanks to two goals by Dibirov.

The hosts' rally brought back crowds and the hope of thousand “red-black” in the Boris Trajkovski arena.

In the last twenty minutes Dujshebaev woke up and his second goal once more squared the score. With ten minutes to go Pascal Hens' hit sidelined both Dibirov for the rest of the match because of injury and Hens himself consequently because of a red card.

In the dying moments of the match Duvnjak pushed visitors to 28:27, but Mikhail Chipurin was the man who secured the draw for his team.

"We knew this will be a tough game and we did a good job in the first half and we had a good defence. The second half we were not so good, in defence and we conceded 3-4 easy goals. But we have another 60 minutes to play in Hamburg," HSV coach Martin Schwalb said.

"In the first half our defence did not work properly and we got many easy goals from the wing position. Our attack could not go through their defence and we got many goals from fast breaks. It will be very hard to play against them. In order to win we will have to play in high rhythm from the first minute," Vardar coach Gonzalez said.

"Tying such an opponent is a good thing, but if we look how we played then I’m not satisfied. Against teams like Hamburg you have to play well for 60 minutes, not only for some part of the game. If we don’t change anything in our game the chances to make something in Hamburg are small. We will try to correct our mistakes and play good there," promised Vardar's Filip Lazarov.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / br