Kielce win magnificent thriller in Szeged to secure top spotArticle
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GROUP D MATCHES REVIEW: KS Vive Tauron Kielce came out on top against Szeged in the Match of the Week. And French champions Dunkerque claim their first home win of the season

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Kielce win magnificent thriller in Szeged to secure top spot

There was more than just pride at stake as two teams, who have already qualified for the VELUX EHF Champions League knockout rounds, battled it out for supremacy in Group D in the Match of the Week.

Having led in the first half and trailed in the second, Kielce celebrated a memorable win after their experienced goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal emerged as the game’s hero alongside right winger Ivan Cupic, who netted the winner one second before the buzzer.

With only two victories away in Zaporozhye and Aalborg, French champions Dunkerque were still looking for their first win on home court in the VELUX EHF Champions League.


MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) 26:27 (11:14)

A breathtaking finale was the only fitting climax to this outstanding clash of the titans in Szeged, where Kielce enjoyed an eighth successive win to secure the group’s top spot with two matches to spare.

It was a game of contrasting halves and a furious finish in which the Polish side snatched victory from the jaws of defeat after right winger Ivan Cupic drilled in a buzzer-beating winner, from a set-play after visiting coach Talant Dujshebaev called a time-out.

Kielce thoroughly dominated the opening period as their first-choice goalkeeper Marin Sego racked up 11 saves while Michal Jurecki and Karol Bielecki were unstoppable at the other end, with Serbian winger Rajko Prodanovic keeping the home team afloat.

A barrage of superb saves by Polish goalkeeper Piotr Wyszomirski, who replaced the despondent Jose Sierra late in the first half, ignited a rip-roaring comeback by Szeged who turned the match on its head as Zsolt Balogh and Swede Jonas Kallman led the charge in attack.

The comeback looked certain to produce a happy ending for Szeged when they carved out a 22-18 lead midway through the second half, but the excellent Szmal then took over from Sego and conjured a final twist which left a sizeable contingent of away fans dancing in delight.

Picking off shots like ripe cherries, Szmal made it look like the home team’s sharpshooters were directing their efforts at a wall while Bielecki and Jurecki rediscovered their scoring touch at the other end.

The visitors nosed ahead 26-25 through Manuel Strlek and after Roberto Parrondo equalised, Dujshebaev called the time out to chalk up the final play, which left Cupic unmarked on the right flank.

The Croatian made no mistake and the visitors hugged each other in delight after prevailing in a truly magnificent encounter played at a torrid pace from start to finish.

Bielecki and Jurecki gave Kielce six goals each and Serbian right winger Prodanovic scored as many for the home side.
Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral (FRA) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye 31:29 (17:17)

In order to secure safe passage to the VELUX EHF Champions League’s Last 16 phase, 
the French side was badly in need of a win against HC Motor Zaporozhye in the Stade des Flandres. 

However, it was no easy task with Motor fighting for every inch of space. An intelligent and powerful defence from the guests along with efficiently ployed counter-attacks fueled Zaporozhye’s bright start, and after 15 minutes they took a 8:6 lead. 

As the half-time mark approached the teams were deadlocked at 17:17. It was Dunkerque who controlled the game after this mark.

Baptiste Butto’s and Romain Guillard’s best games of the season handed the lead to Dunkerque early in the second half and the French champions made the most out of the situation.

While Motor’s lack of inspiration in attack was also a factor, Dunkerque managed to stay calm and achieve their first win on home court in this season, the game finishing 31:29. The two points saw the French side rise to the third place in the group.

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu, Zoran Milosavljevic / bc