First win of the season for PresovArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Tatran Presov record their first win of the campaign to move ahead of Chekhovskie Medvedi in the standings and can now look look forward to Thursday's meeting in Russia.

First win of the season for Presov

The eastern Slovakian side celebrated their first win of the season tonight, as they keep all the points after their home victory against Chekhovskie Medvedi in their fifth VELUX EHF Champions League match.

It was a rather defensive match from beginning, with a low shot efficiency from Medvedi throughout the game, as they often appeared helpless against Chupryna – the 'Man of the Match' with 13 saves.

Tatran Presov (SVK) vs Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) 27:21 (12:12)

Oliver Rabek and Dominik Rabek made their comeback, after suffering from injuries, to reinforce the back court in the attacking game for Presov. Pressure from back court was finally a key to success for Rastislav Trtík's men – something they missed in the previous encounters. Together with 100% efficiency from the wingers, Jakub Hrstka and Radoslav Antl, Presov finally found their form and the Bears were the victims.

Igor Chupryna displayed fantastic saves all throughout this match, despite his second half crash with powerful Chernoivanov. Unlike Chupryna, Oleg Grams made his first save of the game in 20th minute and could not catch up with his counterpart. It's fair to say, the defence of the Russian team did not help either.

Vladimir Maksimov, the coach of Chekhovskie Medvedi, expressed his disappointment. “It was our worst game in the Champions League. We made a huge number of mistakes and we did not manage to deliver a quality performance. We missed two injured players in the match. Next Thursday is important and we have to change our attitude before game if we want to be successful.”

Presov took the lead for the first time in the eighth minute through Radoslav Pekar. A special milestone for Ivan Ivkovic was celebrated in 19th minute, when he scored his first ever goal in the VELUX EHF Champions League to give Presov biggest lead in the first half by three goals; yet Medvedi was able to keep it level at half-time.

In the second half, the Bears were struggling even more, as they failed to score between the 38th and 48th minute. A decisive moment occurred in 40th minute, when Ostaschchenko fell short against Chupryna. As Medvedi had an ideal opportunity to equalise at 15:14, Presov scored six in a row to make their dream of winning their first match in the group phase come true.

Maximov delivered an unusual game plan, with two line players instead of right back, but his emotional speech to his players suggested that things did not go according to his expectations.

Jakub Hrstka demonstrated his elaborate skills with Radoslav Antl, as both wingers scored the most beautiful goal of the match in 52nd minute, with Hrstka passing the ball in the air for Antl to score with a jump. The Czech winger scored eight goals altogether, two less than the top scorer of the game, Dmitry Kovalev. Presov were finally enjoying their handball cruise in the European elite, scoring a number of skillful goals from fast counter attacks towards the end of the match.  

Jakub Hrstka, left wing of Tatran Presov, delivered his own high-calibre, individual performance but also praised his goal keeper and his team's defence for their winning efforts. “We are very satisfied that we managed to win, as we prepared for the game very thoroughly. We played as a good team - our defence played really well and Chupryna was outstanding. Based on those factors, we were able to succeed in the fast breaks. We will do everything to win in Moscow on Thursday.”

A win for Presov means the first points for the Slovakian Champions and they move ahead of Medvedi in the standings, who are now at bottom of Group C due to their defeat in this match.

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / tm