Szeged beaten but not broken against SportingArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: Portuguese club take two-goal lead to Szeged, Hungary after a 29:27 win in the first quarter-final leg in the EHF Cup

Szeged beaten but not broken against Sporting

The Men's EHF Cup top scorer Pedro Portela kept his eight goals per match average intact as he helped his Sporting CP to beat Pick Szeged 29:27 in the first quarter-final leg. Jonas Larholm and Zsolt Balogh led Szeged with eight and seven goals, respectively. The second leg will be played on Sunday, 27 April in Szeged.

Men's EHF Cup, quarter-final, 1st leg:
Sporting CP (POR) vs Pick Szeged (HUN) 29:27 (11:12)

Pick Szeged had a tremendous start, scoring four unanswered goals, stunning the hosts who normally give a lot to do to their opponents at home. Slowly, Sporting’s quick style brought them back to life, and within six minutes the score was equal again, always with their wingers in play. Pedro Solha really helped the green side keep themselves in the match, because if it was not for his goals there would be a four goal deficit by minute 20.

“We entered showing too much respect for them, which led us to the poor start, but when we noticed that we could be face to face with them, we started to be ourselves as a team,” Frederico Santos explained

“We recovered some crucial possessions with an efficient and active defense, then our counter-attack did the rest to keep us in the game,” Santos added.

Balance was the key word at the break, with Pick Szeged leading by one (12:11), and when the sides came back to the second half Sporting could have easily struggled once they had a suspension. “That was the moment which made us stick together, and with a huge help from goalkeeper Ricardo Candeias (GK) and our quick responses, we were able to reduce the margin from three to one goal,” Sporting line player Bruno Moreira said.

Sporting made a three-goal run from 48 to 51 minutes, something that gave them superiority, but never took away the Pick's hope. Szeged never quit, making a final effort to reduce the margin to one (25-24), an effort which made the Lions’ overcome their capacities again with their wingers deciding once again by putting the goal margin back to three at minute 57, the goals that killed the chances of Hungarian team to win the game.

“That was the decisive moment, psychologically is a hammer blow for them, but for us it was the complete galvanization, we knew we had the game then,” stated Moreira, who admitted his team could have kept the three goal margin until the end of the match.

“We will study this game and see where we can improve. We will stick to our style though, and defend even better,” Moreira promised.

“We will surely have to start much better! Still, we are very proud of our performance today and we will take all our courage to Hungary in order to be in the final four.”

TEXT: Carlos Jorge Santos / br