Brest beat Zagreb to keep last 16 hopes aliveArticle
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GROUP A REVIEW: Brest dominated from start to finish against Zagreb to increase their chances of advancing to the next stage with an important victory

Brest beat Zagreb to keep last 16 hopes alive

Meshkov Brest hauled themselves back into contention for a spot in the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 with a vital Group A home win against HC PPD Zagreb on Saturday.

Meshkov produced arguably their best performance of the competition so far to record a comfortable victory against Zagreb and draw level with the Croatian champions on four points from five games. 

The Belarusian champions led from the start in a one-sided encounter as Croatian coach Zeljko Babic claimed a tactical victory over his counterpart Veselin Vujovic, whose Zagreb side found their attack stifled throughout by diligent defending. 

VELUX EHF Champions League Group A

Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 26:22 (12:7)

Brest came out on top in a physical battle and gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the VELUX EHF Champions League knockout rounds after a stellar performance from their Balkan contingent carved out an unassailable six-goal lead in the early stages.

With Zagreb’s former goalkeeper Ivan Pesic on fire for Brest, the home side raced into a 4:0 lead in the opening 10 minutes with the visitors unable to find a way through a Meshkov wall on the six-metre line.

The advantage was soon stretched to 9:3 as line player Rastko Stojkovic, and fellow Serb Nikola Manojlovic, continued to pick the lock at the other end, aided by Austrian right back Janko Bozovic and Slovenian playmaker David Spiler.

The visitors fought hard to keep the deficit down but wasted a great opportunity in the last minute of the first half before Manoljovic rifled in a piledriver on the buzzer to restore a five-goal lead at the interval.

It looked like Zagreb would suffer a heavy defeat when Brest romped 20:13 ahead midway through the second half, but the Croatian outfit teed up a tense finish when they cut the hosts’ lead to 24:21 with four minutes remaning while also holding possession.

But one of the visitors' many turnovers followed and they then had a player suspended for two minutes, giving Brest a chance to recuperate. 

The robust Stojkovic duly took advantage and netted his fifth goal to seal the game as a contest, while Dzianis Rutenka put the icing on the cake for the Belarusian champions before Zlatko Horvat, who had two penalties saved by Pesic, scored the game’s final goal. 

Manojlovic was Meshkov’s top scorer with seven goals and Pesic racked up 12 saves, while Mario Vuglac stood out for Zagreb with a game-high eight goals. 


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / jh