Kielce edge Kolding and Perez de Vargas shinesArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: Two thrilling matches end with close score lines as Barcelona defeat Vardar and Kielce win against Kolding.

Barcelona edge Vardar as De Vargas shines  

A fantastic match in Skopje’s jam-packed Jane Sandanski Arena went FC Barcelona’s way after goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas pulled off a string of stunning saves in the last five minutes, keeping the title-holders at the top of the group.

KS Vive Tauron Kielce move into third position with 10 points after their win at home against KIF Kolding Kobenhavn on Sunday evening, while KIF are still last in the group with only two points.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 25:27 (15:12)

This clash will long live in the memory of all those who had the good fortune to cram into the Jane Sandanski Arena, as well as thousands of television viewers across Europe.

Vardar dominated the first half before Barcelona showed all their resilience in the second, coming out on top in a thrilling contest thanks to an outstanding performance from Perez de Vargas.

Having generated an electrifying atmosphere, the 6,000 home fans saw Vardar romp to a 6:2 lead on the back of some great saves by their own stalwart between the posts, Arpad Sterbik, while free-flowing attack ripped into Barcelona’s rearguard like a knife through butter.

Barcelona’s Macedonian star Kiril Lazarov, who scored only one goal from nine shots in the reverse fixture last weekend, was again undone by Sterbik, who seemed to have mesmerised the VELUX EHF Champions League holders in the opening period.

Experienced as they are, Barcelona took advantage of Vardar’s brief lapse in concentration and turned a 10:6 deficit into a 12:11 lead before the home side hit back with four unanswered goals.

Although the visitors worked hard to stay in touch, it looked like Vardar would celebrate their first win in 10 meetings against Barcelona until the home straight, when the brilliant Perez de Vargas closed shop.

The 24-year old goalkeeper saved a barrage of one-on-one sitters as well as several scorching long-range shots, while Barcelona netted five goals without reply at the other end to transform a 24:22 deficit into an unassailable 27:24 advantage.

“Congratulations to Barcelona for the deserved win. We started well and after 15 minutes we had three to four goals advantage," said Vardar coach Raul Gonzales Gutierrez.

“We finished the first half three goals ahead, but after the break we couldn’t hold their back Jallouz, and we had a lot of problems to defend against the pivot position. At the end their goalkeeper Gonzalo made some fantastic saves and they won. I want to thank our fans for their support. We tried to fight back, but as you all know, it is never easy against a team like Barca.”

While Lazarov suffered another patchy afternoon, scoring four goals from 11 shots, the unstoppable Wael Jallouz came up with a blistering performance, rifling in eight goals from nine efforts.

Evergreen winger Victor Tomas scored seven goals from as many shots and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson chipped in with five for Barcelona.

Sergei Gorbok led Vardar with five goals, while four other players amassed three each.

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) 33:31 (13:14)

Kolding may have just two points but the difference in the league table was not reflected in the match – the 60 minutes were just as close as the result indicates, as the visitors proved able to follow the favourites all the way.


In comparison with their 33:25 away win against Kolding last Sunday, Kielce took to the court with Slovenian playmaker Uros Zorman back from injury, while KIF were missing three of their left-handed players: Kasper Ryan Irming Andersen, Simon Edelberg Jensen and Nikolaj Enderleit. Still, the Danish champions were able to put the home team under pressure throughout the 60 minutes.

A solid KIF defence played an important part, and so did a stellar performance from 39-year-old Kasper Hvidt in goal.

For large parts of the match, Karol Bielecki was the only Kielce player who could actually challenge the Danish defence from a distance, so it was quite natural that the 33-year-old left back became his team’s top scoring player with eight goals.

In the KIF attack, Bo Spellerberg’s variety of shots and constant unpredictability caused the Kielce defence and goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal ongoing problems.

As a result, the visitors were able to come back and take the lead time after time when Kielce seemed to be about to decide the game.

At the end, Kielce had the upper hand, and the last goal belonged to Zorman, who broke through the KIF defence to make it 33:31 with 13 seconds left.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / Peter Bruun / cg