Vardar cruise past Löwen to claim second spotArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: The Macedonian oufit shocked Löwen and became the first away team to win a VELUX EHF Champions League group game in Mannheim.

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Vardar cruise past Löwen to claim second spot

Vardar put up an amazing performce in Mannheim and led all game long against Löwen, whose only goal in the second half was to avoid their heaviest defeat in the competetion. The Skopje outfit kept their second place in Group C after a 35:28 win.

Medvedi were ahead for most of their game in Celje but when Alexander Dereven received a straight red card the visitors collapsed and Celje won the battle of the relegated.

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) 29:25 (14:15)

It came as no surprise that the Russian team, who came back to Europe’s elite competition to regain tournament routine, was not bothered by the fact that they fell short in Group C and took a better start than the unusually blunt home side.

Celje had a hard time trying keep pace with the Russians and were trailing for most of the first half. Ivan Sliskovic and Blaz Janc did the most to keep the Slovenian chamion in sight but the visitors held on to their lead with line player Alexander Chernoivanov’s goals.

Celje were trailing by one when Alexander Dereven received a straight red card for a foul and the Slovenian champion finally found fifth gear. Celje took the lead and held on to until the end, Medvedi did not have a chance to edge closer.

Both teams are out of the competetion but both left their marks.

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 28:35 (13:20)

The visitors took a flying start and immediately went ahead by two Alem Toskic goals and as it took six minutes for the Löwen to find a way to Arpad Sterbik’s net Vardar maintained their lead. Apart from Vardar’s excellent start Löwen took another blow as after Bjarte Myhol was sidelined Gedeon Guardiola suffered an injury in the first minutes.

The visitors’ wall was massive backed by Sterbik and while Timur Dibirov finished their fast breaks effectively Igor Karacic was unstoppable against the wall. Nikolaj Jacobsen was forced to first take off Niklas Landin then take his second time-out after 19 minutes when Vardar were up by 7:14.

Löwen edged a little closer but the visitors, who scored 20 goals in the first half, easily outran their opponents and the German side was in deep trouble at the break.

Löwen had nobody to drag the team out of the slum as Vardar continued to dominate the game in the second half and soon extended their lead to an astonishing 10 goals. The German side, who never lost a VELUX EHF Champions League group match at home before, were no longer fighting for a victory but to avoid their heaviest ever defeat in the competition (23:37 vs. Kiel).

Karacic and Dibirov remained excellent and with Sterbik keep saving shots from all positions Vardar could even afford to put less energy in defence due to which Löwen climbed a little closer by a couple of nice Lars Mensah goals. However, Vardar still won comfortably and remain in second place in Group D while Löwen finish third.

TEXT: Bence Martha / br