Joyous Meshkov return to winning ways in Europe’s top flightArticle
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GROUP A REVIEW: Belarus champions Meshkov Brest celebrated their first VELUX EHF Champions League win since November 2007, after a superb team effort gave them a 28:24 victory against Macedonian rivals HC Metalurg.

Joyous Meshkov return to winning ways in Europe’s top flight

Albeit against a depleted Metalurg side missing three key players, Meshkov Brest enjoyed a much-needed win on home court to chalk up their first points of the 2014/15 campaign in Europe’s premier club competition.

It was also Meshkov’s third straight win over Metalurg after the Belarus champions beat their Macedonian rivals twice in last year’s regional SEHA league, where they will meet again this term.

While Meshkov can now look forward to the remaining eight Group A matches with hope that they can produce an upset and reach the Last 16 for the first time, Metalurg face an uphill task amid reports of turmoil within the squad.


HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs HC Metalurg (MKD) 28:24 (12:10)

Zeljko Babic, the less acclaimed of two Croatian coaches involved in the match, won a personal battle against trophy-laden compatriot Lino Cervar as Meshkov Brest took a stranglehold on the game from the start and coasted to a well-deserved win over an understrength Metalurg side.

The Macedonian giants arrived in Belarus missing three key players, Renato Vugrinec through injury as well as Serbia goalkeeper Darko Stanic and Russian centre back Pavel Atman for reasons the club is yet to officially explain.

Meshkov capitalised on Metalurg’s off-court problems and took the game by the scruff of the neck in the first half, when they raced into a five-goal lead (8:3) early on.

The contest was marred by an ugly incident in the opening period when Meshkov pivot Rastko Stojkovic and Metalurg left wing Dejan Manaskov were shown red cards for a scuffle following the latter’s flagrant foul on his Serbian counterpart.

That sparked a brief Metalurg comeback as they cut the deficit to 9:7 and held firm in the last few minutes of the first half to take a two-goal deficit into the locker room, raising hopes that they could turn the match on its head in the second half.

A twist looked likely after they reduced the gap to just one goal early in the second period, but a 5:1 run by the home side ended the game as a contest as Meshkov made the most of a flurry of fast breaks to pull away into a 25:19 lead in the closing stages.

Metalurg’s Croatian centre back Luka Cindric netted a game-high nine goals, Filip Mirkulovski scored seven and Montenegrin Vladan Lipovina added four, but their heroics were quite simply insufficient for a more balanced home team who had 12 players on the scoresheet.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / br