Fantastic Plock performance provides one-goal winArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: Fiesty battle provides plenty of entertainment, but gives us no ideas as to who will be in the quarter-finals draw

Fantastic Plock performance provides one-goal win

Although the day of 23 March is an official “Day of Hungarian–Polish Friendship”, that was at the back of both teams' minds on the court tonight. The visitors, who did not manage to qualify for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 last season, showed that this time they must find their way to Cologne.

However, the Oilers were not going to lay down in front of their opponents and make it easier for them to reach their goal. After very tough game Wisła Płock defeated MKB–MVM Veszprem 34:33 and their appetite for the next phase of the contest was not diminished half way through this two-leg contest.

VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, first leg:

Orlen Wisła Płock (POL) vs MKB–MVM Veszprém (HUN) 34:33 (16:16)

The players of Wisła were very motivated to show that they were not afraid of the European handball’s big brand and even though they seemed to start the match a bit hesitant in the attack, after some mistakes by the visitors they found their self-confidence.

After Momir Ilic did not manage to catch the pass from his teammate, Valentin Ghionea twice in a row defeated the Veszprem goalkeeper, Mirko Alilovic, giving his team their first lead at 4:3. The visitors took it easy and each time were calmly resuming the game and rightly so, because their line player Renato Sulic bullied the Płock defense around, knocking them over like skittles to prepare a huge space for the Hungarian cannon, Laszlo Nagy.

The right back managed to defeat the Płock goalie Marin Sego five times and together with Momir Ilic were the best shooters for the visitors in the first half.

The Oilers however, soon caught the wind into their sails and surprised Veszprem with the quick game and impressive solutions under leadership of Mariusz Jurkiewicz, who noticed the absence of Mirko Alilovic in the goal and threw the ball the length of the court.

The first half ended level at 16:16, a tight affair on all counts.

It was Renato Sulic who opened the scoring of the second half and it proved to be the last time Veszprem would be content with a lead for the rest of this game. The hosts scored three times in a row, earning a tiny but safe advantage of two or three goals and were consequently defending it through the course of the duel.

“We played horriblly in defence, we have to improve it for the next match because it is a basis of our play," said Veszprem's Cristian Ugalde after the match.

They were very close to holding a two-goal until the final buzzer, but in the end the Veszprem winger defeated Marin Sego for the last time and his team lost by just the one goal.

Although the match could have finished worse for his team, the Veszprem coach Carlos Ortega was not satisfied with the final result: “We made a lot of mistakes, which is unusual for our team. We had huge problems with the 5-1 defence of our opponents. Actually it is the first time we have lost after scoring so many goals. We need to play much harder in Veszprem if we want to pass through the next phase."

The winners however did not hide their happiness.

“Our defence was great, we stole some balls and urged our rivals to make errors. We will try to perform the same in Veszprem," said a smiling Angel Montoro.

“We are very happy because of the result, it is very important for the fans, who recently had to watch our weak form in the domestic league. Of course we expect a similar atmosphere in Hungary, but we will do our best to defend our lead,” said coach Manolo Cadenas.

Whether the Poles can indeed hold on, or the Hungarian champions will continue their persuite of the FINAL4 will be settled next weekend. The second leg takes place on Saturday29 March.

TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / cor