“Viva Colonia” once again for KielArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: Easy-going return match against Metalurg brings Kiel their tenth semi-final appearance in EHF Champions League history

“Viva Colonia” once again for Kiel

For the fourth time in five attempts, THW Kiel are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. After the clear first leg win in Skopje (31:21), there was no doubt that the three-time EHF Champions League winners would make it to Cologne.

After the 34:26 in the second leg win, THW complete the pot for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 semi-final draw on Tuesday in Cologne after Veszprem, Flensburg and Barcelona had already clinched their berth on Saturday.

VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final, second leg:
THW Kiel (GER) vs. HC Metalurg (MKD) 34:26 (19:11)

First leg: 31:21

Despite an initial solo run by Stanic and Vugrinec, in which goalkeeper Darko Stanic and the six goals of the competition's top scorer Renato Vugrinec imprinted the opening minutes, Kiel were never endangered on their way to their tenth semi-final participation after reaching their 15th quarter-final (ten straight participations since 2005).

When Kiel’s defence had adapted to Vugrinec's attacking threat and goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand improved, the match became one-sided. Thanks to six counter-attack goals of Dominik Klein (overall eight goals made him top scorer) Kiel forged ahead to a five goal margin for the first time at 11:6 – which meant an overall difference of 15 goals after just 20 minutes, and despite the huge bench rotation THW coach Alfred Gislason had started after only 12 minutes.

“I am very satisfied. After the transition at the start of the season, you could not expect that we make it to Cologne again. After winning the first leg clearly, it was our clear goal to start strong to make sure as early as possible to proceed,” said Gislason.

“It was really fun to play today. It is great to return to Cologne, this is the best event in the world of handball,” said top scorer Klein. “Cologne is something very special – and every handball player wants to be part of it. So I am happy to return," THW captain Filip Jicha added.

At the break the distance had risen to eight goals at 19:11 and the 10,000 spectators in the Sparkassenarena hoped for more spectacular strikes, not only from Christian Zeitz and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, who both enjoyed their last VELUX EHF Champions League home match in the THW jersey. As Sigurdsson still waits for his first Champions League trophy, Zeitz was part of all three Kiel winning teams in 2007, 2010 and 2012.

When Vugrinec received a red card early into the second half, Metalurg’s resistance was finally broken. At 24:14 (minute 43) the distance was in double figures for the first time, and the THW fans started singing “Viva Colonia”.

“I wish Kiel all the best and that they win the trophy again,” Metalurg coach Lino Cervar congratulated his opponenets: “I am proud of my team, as were among the best eight for the second straight time. Kiel clearly deserved to proceed to Cologne, as we caused too many mistakes in the first half. We had problems with the THW defence.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor