Motor close to play-offs after thriller in SkopjeArticle
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GROUP D REVIEW: HC Motor Zaporozhye turn around away game against HC Metalurg in the last 20 minutes.

Motor close to play-offs after thriller in Skopje

There was little to indicate a win for HC Motor Zaporozhye in their match in Skopje against HC Metalurg at half-time, however, the Ukrainian champions overturned the home side in the final quarter to win 23:21.

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) 21:23 (12:9)

HC Motor Zaporozhye moved very close to the play-offs for the Last 16 through their two goal win in the Boris Trajkovski arena in Skopje. During the first 40 minutes, however, not much pointed to a Ukrainian win as after a nervous start from both sides, Metalurg seemed to be the first team who got their nerves under control as the home side went ahead 2:0 and later 7:3.

They seemed to be controlling the game as an aggressive and physical Metalurg defence made life hard for Motor’s attacking players, and at the same time, the home team’s attacking was fluent, partly due to a fine debut for their Slovenian newcomer, centre back David Spiler.

The 32-year-old did well in spite of only having been with his new team for a few days and Metalurg continued to lead for the rest of the first half and the beginning of the last 30 minutes, mostly by three or four goals.

But the visitors managed to come closer as they moved their defence further forward, and through no less than seven goals in succession around the middle of the half, they changed a 16:13 deficit into a 20:16 lead.

Metalurg managed to get back and reduce the distance to a single goal at times, but they never got any further, and Motor could celebrate a win, which puts them on top of Group D with 10 points, while Metalurg are far from the play-off positions with just four points.

For HC Motor Zaporozhye line player Dmytro Doroshchuk the victory was the reward for their hard work.

“We knew that this game would be tough,” said the 29-year-old. “We prepared well and watched a lot of video, and scouted every single HC Metalurg player but David Spiler was a big surprise for us because he just arrived for them and we couldn't prepare for him.

“But we deserved the victory because we played very well especially in the last 15 minutes.”

Metalurg coach, Lino Cervar put the defeat down to a lack of aggression in the later stages and echoed Doroshchuk’s thoughts about the last quarter.

“Motor played a very good defence,” he said. “When we played the deep defensive 3-2-1 formation we managed to be aggressive and to lead and when we changed to 6-0 we kept the lead.

“We lost our tempo in the second half and the more experienced players of the of Motor - especially Barys Pukhouski and Sergey Shelmenko - had a good night.

“Our experienced players were not aggressive enough and we lost the game in the last 15 minutes.”

The right backs in both teams were the top-scoring players; Sergey Shelmenko scored seven goals for Motor and Janko Bozovic five for Metalurg.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / amc