Landin secures quarter-final spot for LöwenArticle
«Go back

MATCH REVIEW: Thanks to the higher number of away goals German side eliminate Kielce in a pure Last 16 thriller

Landin secures quarter-final spot for Löwen

Last ticket to the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals goes to Rhein Neckar Löwen. After Kielce won 32:28 in the first leg of the Last 16, Lions held the upper hand and beat the third team of the previous season 27:23. At an aggregate score stalemate (55:55), only away goals rule determined which team goes through and which out.

VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, second leg:
Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs Vive Targi Kielce (POL) 27:23 (16:14)
First leg: 28:32, aggregate 55:55, Löwen qualify for the quarter-finals on away goals.

“Even when the final buzzer was blown, I did not know if we were through or not – but then all my teammates jumped for joy, and I knew that we were in the quarter-finals.” Niklas Landin – the man of the match - needed some time to realise that Rhein Neckar Löwen have jumped over the Kielce hurdle in the closest possible way.

“It was more than a thriller, I am so happy. A brilliant fight,” was the first reaction of Löwen line player Bjarte Myrhol. When Uros Zorman missed the final Kielce chance ten seconds before the end, Löwen knew that they made their dream come true.

“Niklas Landin was the difference in a highly close match, but I am proud of my team. Next year we start our campaign again,” was the summary of Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev.

“Little things and Landin were decisive, we saw 120 minutes on one level of two top teams,” Kielce player Piotr Chrapkowski added.

One day after the defending VELUX EHF Champions League winner HSV Hamburg had been eliminated by Vardar Skopje, Kielce became the second 2013 VELUX EHF FINAL4 participant to miss the quarter-finals, while THW Kiel and FC Barcelona clinched their berth for the next round.

Talant's son Alex playing for Vardar will be the only representative of the Dujshebaev family in the quarter-finals. Löwen coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson praised his team: “It was a fantastic handball match on highest level and I am so proud of my team. Niklas Landin was fantastic and all my players fought untile the last second.”

Full emotions, players and fans on fire, a combative fight for every centimetre a real clash of two powerhouses of European club handball – the last Last16 had all ingredients, handball could have. Kielce started strong thanks to the goals of Michal Jurecki, while on the other hand Löwen (without their injured team captain Uwe Gensheimer) were fully backed by the in total 17 saves of goalkeeper Landin.

The open and equal fight was attended by some well-known faces like Polish national team coach Michael Biegler, currently injured Vardar top scorer Timur Dibirov and Skopje president Sergey Samsonenko –maybe the next Löwen opponent.

8,805 spectators in the arena saw a solid rock Kielce defence and incredible Landin saves and although Löwen were in lead most of the first half, both sides nearly neutralised themselves.

Right after the break Kielce lost their rhythm completely – and only the saves of goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal (one of five former Löwen players in the Kielce squad) kept their hopes alive.

As both defence sides even fought harder than before, a huge number of injury breaks stopped the flow of the match. Löwen were back on track, latest when Landin saved the third straight penalty shot 11 minutes before the end at the score of 24:19.

In the thrilling final stages Löwen were in at one attack and were out in the next. With five minutes remaining it was obvious that already a four goal win would be enough for the host, as they had scored more away goals than Kielce. And when Alexander Petersson increased the margin to five at 27:22 - the arena went crazy, nobody was sitting anymore.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br