A dark day for the defending championsArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: Flensburg are close to elimination after a 21:30 home defeat against impressive THW Kiel on Sunday.

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A dark black day for the defending champions

It was not the clearest home defeat in the long international tradition of SG Flensburg-Handewitt, but one of those that will hurt the most: On Sunday evening the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 was completed with an unexpected 21:30 (9:16) away win for THW Kiel.

“Kiel played close to perfection”, said Martin Schwalb, who led HSV Hamburg to the VELUX Champions League title in 2013 and who commented the match for SKY.

The three-time champions took more than revenge for the 28:30 defeat in the 2014 final against Flensburg, recording their first win at the lion’s den in three years.


SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)-THW Kiel (GER) 21:30 (9:16)

In the 2014 final of the VELUX EHF Champions League SG Flensburg-Handewitt managed to turn around a six-goal deficit into a win against their local rivals on neutral ground in Cologne after being far from such a goal in their earlier Last 16 match on home ground.

But in the re-match between the 2007 and 2014 Champions League finalists on Sunday, THW were in a class of their own.

The visitors profited from numerous Flensburg failures and the fact that the defending champions had to replace key players like Holger Glandorf and Jakob Heinl.

“This was a night in black and white, just for our fans”, said THW coach Alfred Gislason after the comprehensive win.

Kiel started in a brilliant way, keeping defence tight and punishing any turnover with counter attack goals. Even the early red card for Rene Toft Hansen in minute nine did not stop the THW express – the opposite, in fact.

By scoring seven counter attack goals compared to zero from the hosts, Kiel marched on and on, forging ahead to the first six-goal score line after only 14 minutes (8:14).

Despite an early time out from SG coach Ljubomir Vranjes and a huge number of changes mainly in the back court area, Flensburg did not manage to close the gap until the break. They failed too often against THW goalkeeper Andreas Palicka or were too weak even when they were one player up on the court.

After a nine-minute run without any goal SG improved a little, but when the half-time whistle was blown Kiel had increased their lead to seven goals (9:16).


“Kiel are absolutely strong, while we are not brave enough”, said Glandorf to TV station SKY.

Thanks to strong Palicka and right wing Niklas Ekberg, Kiel kept full control of an unexpectedly one-sided match.

The last glimpse of hope for the defending champions was when they reduced the gap to six goals (15:21). But by that point Kiel fans could start chanting and signing their traditional “Ole, ole here comes the THW” in celebration of Kiel's 50th win out of 80 matches in the fortress of their arch rivals, while the SG spectators were silent and in a state of shock.

When the score reached 16:25, the gate to the quarter-final was wide open for the three-time Champions League winners – while for the second consecutive time after Hamburg in 2014 the defending champions could be eliminated in the Last 16.

Without young Danish goalkeeper, Kevin Möller, Flensburg's defeat would have been worse, but too often Möller lacked the support of the defence, which had enormous problems throughout the whole 60 minutes.

“This was not revenge, just an important match. Our performance level was extremely high; it was simply incredible,” said THW shooter Filip Jicha, while Flensburg playmaker Thomas Mogensen was fully disappointed:

“It was a black day for us. We made so many easy mistakes, which were punished immediately. If you lose by nine goals at home, the chance to proceed is close to zero.”

“It is all over now”, said SG coach Vranjes to SKY.

Four years ago, SG were beaten by an even bigger margin in the Champions League quarter-final by soon-to-be finalists Ciudad Real, with a final result of 24:38.  

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg