Montpellier eliminate Celje and Löwen snuff VeszprémArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Montpellier beat Celje to reach the knockout stage while Löwen hammered Veszprém to seal a qualification and Vardar advance with victory against Medvedi.

Montpellier eliminate Celje and Löwen snuff Veszprém

Montpellier Agglomeration HB won the crunch game in VELUX EHF Champions League Group C against Celje Pivovarna Lasko to confirm their place in the last 16 and eliminate the Slovenian champions.

Rhein-Neckar Löwen made the best of the worst first-half performance MKB-MVM Veszprém have ever produced in the competition while HC Vardar also advanced to the knockout stages with a big win at Chekhovskie Medvedi. 


Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA) 27:30 (14:10)

Fresh from a devastating defeat against PSG in the French league, Montpellier travelled to Celje aiming to hold on to their fourth place in Group C, but at half-time they were in deep trouble.

It was an even game in the first period but Celje stepped on the gas before the break and surged ahead by four goals after Montpellier managed to score just two goals in the last 10 minutes.

The hosts looked to young centre back Miha Zarabec to fire them to the last 16, and he answered the call with 11 goals, but Montpellier were not about to beaten easily.

Vid Kavticnik and Issam Tej brought the visitors closer and it did not take long for Montpellier to equalise and claim full control over the game.

The French outfit gathered momentum and played an excellent second half against Celje, who once again proved too inexperienced to hold on to their well-deserved lead.

Montpellier won by three goals thus confirming their place in the last 16. Celje on the other hand are out, but the fact that the youngest side in the competition's points tally would have been enough for them to qualify in any other group is testament to the level of their performances.

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs MKB-MVM Veszprém (HUN) 32:25 (18:10)

Löwen made a flying start to their all-important clash with Veszprém and broke through the visitors' defence early.

The Hungarian side were lost in attack and made too many errors, which Löwen were happy to capitalise on with goals from Uwe Gensheimer and Patrick Groetzki, who just extended his contract with the Bundesliga leaders.

The German outfit were unstoppable even when Veszprém’s wall took up formation, and Carlos Ortega had to take two timeouts in the first half.

Veszprém remained disjointed and Löwen showed no mercy as they continued to add to their lead. After the worst first half in their Champions League history, Veszprém trailed by eight goals.

Löwen’s lead soon grew to double digits, as the German team produced a breathtaking performance and had the result wrapped up by the 40th minute. Andre Schmid and Alexander Petersson were ruthless and never let the visitors catch a breath as Veszprém were fighting to avoid complete humiliation.

It was billed as a tight battle, but Löwen played their best game of the season and deservedly emerged as comfortable victors. The Hungarian outfit remain on top of the group, while Löwen also sealed qualification to the last 16.



Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 34:39 (16:19)

HC Vardar set two club records in the VELUX EHF Champions League with a convincing win over Medvedi in Chekhov. With 39 goals scored they set the record of the most goals ever scored by a Macedonian side in the competition (their previous record was 37 vs Thun from last season), and the combined 73 goals tally is the most scored in one game.

The huge amount of goals came as no surprise as both teams are among the top scoring outfits in the competition and it could have been even more if they had converted their penalties more precisely: out of the nine given only four hit the net.

Vardar was in control of the game but Medvedi stubbornly fought for survival by goals from the brilliant Alexander Dereven, who finished with 13 goals. Igor Karacic, Sergei Gorbok and Alem Toskic ran the show for the visitors as Vardar held on to their lead against the feisty Russian team, who never let their opponent get too far ahead.

Medvedi kept fighting up to the last minute but the visitors emerged as winners. Vardar sealed their place in the Last 16 while Chekhovskie Medvedi are out of the competition, but the Russian champions left their mark in arguably the strongest group of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

TEXT: Bence Mártha / bc / jh