Kiel superior in SkopjeArticle
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MATCH REPORT: German side leave Metalurg with a mountain to climb thanks to a dominant display away from home

Kiel superior in Skopje 

In the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final in Skopje, German champions THW Kiel, led by the great performance of their backcourt players Vujin and Palmarson defeated Metalurg in front of a crowded Boris Trajkovski arena.

VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final, first leg 
HC Metalurg (MKD) vs THW Kiel 21:31 (9:14) 

It was a real holiday in Skopje when the two city rivals entered in the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League. The success is even bigger for Metalurg if we take in consideration that they are the only team that started competing from the qualifications and managed to reach this phase. On the other hand the “Zebras” are among the top favorites for the Champions League trophy and after the Bundesliga defeat this Wednesday came to Skopje willing for victory. 

The tickets for this match were sold in only eight minutes, which only promised a fantastic atmosphere in the Boris Trajkovski arena. The Icelandic playmaker Palmarsson opened the scoring in this match and soon after followed the first duel between the mates from the Serbian national team, Stanic and Vujin, which ended in favor of the Kiel player. Metalurg responded with two consecutive goals in sixth minute coming from the competition's topscorer – Renato Vugrinec. 

Thanks to the great performance of Sjostrand in the opening minutes of the match, Kiel constantly held the difference of two-three goals in their favor and forced Lino Cervar to take the first time-out in the middle of the first half. His advice prompted a response and the score to level it at 8:8 from Manaskov came ten minutes before the end of the first half. 

Pulling away

Both teams kept their recognisable playing style and Metalurg tried with their slow game to neutralise the fast counterattacks of their opponents, but Lino Cervar's squad wasn’t able to find a solution for the backcourt duo of Vujin and Palmarsson, who led their team to a five goal lead at the half-time break (14:9). 

Czech playmaker Filip Jicha, who is celebrating his 32nd birthday, scored his first goal in the beginning of the second half and increased his team's advantage. The match continued in the same tempo and Kiel turned out to be successful from all positions, but signs of hope from Metalurg came back when Pavel Atman scored two goals in turn forcing Gislason to take his first time-out.  

Another problem for Kiel came when Toft-Hansen had to leave the court because of his third two-minute suspension, but Sjostrand kept his team's healthy lead safe, saving the following penalty from Vugrinec. 

Wingers Manaskov and Mojsovski brought back the atmosphere in the hall and again reduced Kiel goal difference, but once more Vujin turned out to be unstoppable. 
Nothing dramatic changed in the final minutes of the match and Kiel even managed to increase the goal differenceto ten goals at the end to make it 31:21. 

Deserved victory

“I’m very proud of my team because we played so badly three days ago and we knew that this match will be extremely difficult. We played good in defence and attack and that is why we ended as winners in this match,” said Kiel coach Gislason. 

“I would like to congratulate Lino Cervar for the great result in the Champions League. I must say he is doing great things for Macedonian handball. Regarding the match I think we were prepared very well and we played good and I must say that it is great feeling to play here,” Kiel's Marko Vujin stated at the press conference . 

“I must congratulate Kiel for the deserved victory and they showed today that they are great team and played like a champion’s team. Their hunger for victory dominated and we missed this today on our side. Once again I would like to congratulate them and I hope they will be the team who will win the Champions League. I would also like to apologies in my name and in the name of the players because we lacked our fighting spirit,” said Lino Cervar.


TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor