Meshkov Brest beat La Rioja to qualify for the knock-out stageArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Meshkov Brest performed superbly to win away from home against La Rioja to secure qualification to the knock-out stage in first place.

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Meshkov Brest beat La Rioja to qualify for the knock-out stage

La Rioja came close to levelling the tie against Meshkov Brest in the second half, despite trailing by six goals at half-time.

However the Belarussian side were too strong from the back court and as a result find themselves on top of the group with Vitali Charapenka putting in the performance of the match in the final minutes.

Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs Meshkov Brest (BLR) 28:32 (11:17)

Meshkov Brest overcame the odds to win in Logrono against La Rioja but more importantly won by four goals, which means they have assured qualification to the next round of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

For La Rioja it’s a third consecutive defeat and their first at home in the competition.

The La Rioja players looked nervous as they entered tonight’s Group C battle for top spot in the group.

Cristian Malmagro netted his 57th goal of the season to open the scoring in the match.

Meshov Brest were a fortress in the back, with Dainis Kristopans and Dmitry Nikulenkau scoring goals for the away .

After 19 minutes, La Rioja's coach, Jota Gonzalez, called a time out after Kristopans scored two in a row to send Brest into a three goal lead.

The Spanish side were struggling to score, as Vitali Charapenka made good progress during the match.

The visitors led by six goals lead at half-time but La Rioja did not give up and had a good started the second half with renewed zeal.

Brest, however, benefited from strong back court strikes by Nikulenkau, Kristopans and Atman.

Kristopans, Nikulenkau and Stojkovic all scored seven goals, which were key to their victory.

La Rioja missed more goals from counter attacks and from the wings, something they were relying on in previous matches.

Vitali Charapenka put in a brilliant performance in goal for Brest and in the last five minutes that allowed the away side to see the victory out comfortably.

Meshkov Brest are now guaranteed top spot in the gorup because of having a better goal difference from their head to head matches against La Rioja and Porto.

La Rioja will travel to Presov in round 10 and will know they have to take all the points as Porto face Vojvodina, if they wish to qualify.

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / gs