Unstoppable Jallouz gives Barcelona the edge over VardarArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: Current title holders Barcelona climb back into the top spot while MOL-Pick Szeged sit in third position

Unstoppable Jallouz gives Barcelona the edge over Vardar

VELUX EHF Champions League title holders FC Barcelona Lassa celebrated a precious win over Macedonian rivals HC Vardar, the result allowing the Spanish side to jump into the group’s driving seat following a spectacular performance by their Tunisian star Wael Jallouz.

For at least one day, MOL-Pick Szeged took the third position of Group B after their well-deserved and never endangered fourth win of this season.

Group B

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 35:28 (19:14)

The impact of a home crowd was a significant criteria of this mostly one-sided match. The Swedish VELUX EHF Champions League debutants were full of respect, impressed by the great atmosphere, and still wait for their first away point in their short Champions League history, while Pick were flying on the wings of the support from the stands.

Another significant part of the first half was the immediate impact of timeouts. When Szeged, boosted by an early triple strike of Jonas Källman, were ahead by 6:2, Kristianstad coach Ola Lindgren took his first timeout after only 11 minutes. From that moment on, the Swedish defence was much more aggressive and the attackers had left their nervousness behind.

Then, 12 minutes later, Kristianstad had levelled the score at 12:12, causing the timeout on the opposite side. Now, Juan Carlos Pastor had done everything right as his team forged ahead by a 7:2 series including several efficient counter attacks to the half-time score of 19:14.

And thanks to some crucial saves of goalkeeper Jose Manuel Sierra, Szeged sealed the deal after only seven more minutes, trailing Kristianstad by nearly a double-figured advance of 25:16.


From then on, the hosts could save powers for the re-match in Sweden already on Wednesday. The only reason why the final result was not even clearer was due to the performance of Kristianstad’s goalkeeper Leo Larsson. While in contrast, regular IFK top scorer Kristian Björnsen was taken out of the match by Szeged’s defence for a majority of the game.

MOL-Pick Szeged player Ferenc Ilyés said "I am very happy with the victory and the difference. Although, I'm aware that we made many mistakes that we have to rectify. I'm sure that we are going to play a tough game, at a great atmosphere in Kristianstad, we have to improve to win away."

The top scorer was still a Swede but in the Szeged shirt; left wing Källman by eight goals. On the other hand, Iranian international Iman Jamali netted in eight times, too. Kristianstad remain on four points but now hope for the significant impact of their home crowd on Wednesday.

FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 31:30 (16:13)

Having scored a total of 10 goals in the season’s previous six group phase matches, FC Barcelona Lassa's left back, Wael Jallouz, produced the best performance of his life by netting a staggering 12 to give the defending champions a much needed victory.

The match of the week turned into a one-man show as Jallouz was at the heart of his team’s success, scoring six of Barcelona’s opening nine goals in a see-saw encounter.

The home side raced into a 5:1 lead but HC Vardar quickly regained their composure and having slashed the deficit by half-time, they threatened to turn the match on its head when they briefly led 17:16 and then 20:19 early in the second period.

But they had no reply for the fired-up Jallouz, who rifled in one pile-driver after another, capping an effervescent first-half performance with his eighth goal when he drilled in a thunderbolt through a wall of players on the buzzer.

Having contained Barcelona’s misfiring top scorer Kiro Lazarov, who missed all his seven shots in the first half, Vardar seemed to move up a gear in the second half as their Russian import Sergei Gorbok led the comeback.

With Lazarov out of sync against his Macedonian compatriots and Filip Jicha sidelined by injury, Barcelona needed someone to help Jallouz carry the mantle and centre back Raul Entrerrios duly obliged.

Polish line player Kamil Syprzak also provided the much needed support as the home side restored their three-goal advantage in the closing stages and held on to it despite a late Vardar rally.

Entrerrios added five goals for Barca and Syprzak chipped in with four, making up for Lazarov’s awful performance as he scored only one from nine shots in total.

Wingers Victor Tomas and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson were also instrumental with three goals each, while Gorbok was Vardar’s stand-out player with nine from 13 shots.

Another classic is on the cards when the two sides meet again in Skopje next weekend, with Vardar eager to end their winless streak against Barcelona as they have now lost eight of their nine meetings against the royalty of European club handball. 

TEXT: Björn Pazen / Zoran Milosalvjevic / ec