Porto crash out despite big winArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Brest and Porto claim victory on home soil while La Rioja comeback from a two point deficit at half-time to beat Presov away from home

Porto crash out despite big win

It was day of drama in Group C as La Rioja joined Meshkov Brest in the knock out phase following their dramatic win in Presov. Porto are out, despite their sensational demolition of Vojvodina with winning margin as high as 22 goals. Earlier today, Meshkov Brest recorded their eighth win in the group, beating Chekhovskie Medvedi by six goals.


HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Chehovskie Medvedi (RUS) 32:26 (15:13)

Already through to the next phase of the competition, HC Meshkov Brest still needed a win against Chehovskie Medvedi in order to ensure the first place.

For the first 15 minutes, the hosts dodged a bullet, as their Russian counterparts found easy ways to take advantage of Meshkov’s defence.

With right wing Dmitry Kovalev in top form, Medvedi took an early lead and had a 7:6 advantage after 14 minutes.

Kovalev spoke after the game, "We wanted to win today. Unfortunately we lost twice to them. Pity. But this game showed us the goal to be reached. I wish all success to Meshkov Brest in the next rounds."

It was the last time in the game when Medvedi had the advantage as Brest kicked it up a gear and never looked back.

After the hosts led 15:13 at half-time, Brest continued to tear up the Russian defence with efficiency, taking their eighth win in 10 matches in the group with a 32:26 cruise over Medvedi.

Rastko Stojkovic, the Serbian line player was Meshkov’s best player, with eight goals, closely followed by Russian, Pavel Atman and Latvian, Dainis Kristopans, with five goals apiece.



Therefore, Meshkov ensured they won the group, earning a berth with Group D’s runner-up for the play-off phase. The opponent will be decided on Sunday, when group leader, HC Motor Zaporozhye will face Skjern Handbold with only one point between the two teams.

Brest's coach Sergey Bebeshko spoke after the match. "We were a bit tired after the victory against La Rioja. We didn't play ideally in the attack. Our opponent showed good game."

Right back for Brest, Siarhei Shylovich said, "Thanks to Chekhovskie Medvedi for the interesting game. I'd like to wish them success as well."

The Belarussian side will have another advantage, as the return leg will be played in Brest.

On the other hand, Medvedi will finish fourth, with four wins, all of them on home soil.

Futebol Clube do Porto (POR) vs Vojvodina (SRB) 37:15   (16:7)

Dragons have matched the expectations of their fans, the handball public and confirmed their strong home status in Europe's most prestigious club competition, beating the Serbian champions by a glorious 22 goals and recorded their highest ever win amongst the European elite.  

It was the home team under pressure but Ricardo Costa's men showed the right attitude from the first minute and they added a bonus for their fans with fantastic goals and an impressive exhibition in the second half.

A collective performance from Porto paid off – no wonder 13 players have scored at least a goal.

Vojvodina were not resistant from the beginning of the match.

Only one scored goal in the opening ten minutes by Aleksandar Gugleta was not enough and Porto quickly understood they could decide the match before the break.

Ricardo Costa ordered very active approach, applauded by own fans, the Dragons were full of initiative.

Speaking after the game, Costa said: "The secret was in the focus and the seriousness that we've put in our game since the first minute. I think we made a complete game in every phase of it, in defence, in transition and in organized attack. We didn't brake at any moment. There's no perfect matches but we almost reached perfection in some moments."



The home side controlled a comfortable lead in the second half, giving room for young players from the bench to leave their mark on the game.

Vojvodina made far too many technical faults as their attacking efficiency was been very low, compared to 70% on home side.

Porto's defence worked well, looked organised and aggressive and it was difficult task against struggling Serbians.

Strong in the back court, dynamic coming quickly forward, Porto looked as convincing as they did against La Rioja two weeks ago.

Vojvodina have been positive surprise of the season and the last match shall not wash this impression.

They have gathered plenty of valuable experiences they can use for future games.

Coach Nikola Markovic said: "FC Porto are a great team and they had an excellent game today. We didn't came to Porto, I think my team stayed in Serbia. We faced this match like we were in vacation in Portugal and this result it's a shame for me, for my players and for the team. FC Porto had a great performance and wanted way more than us to win this game."

Porto have won all their home matches in VELUX Champions League this season but they still have to wait for La Rioja against Presov to see whether this win will be enough to qualify into the knockout phase, something they have never achieved in the club's history.

This was a remarkable farewell from Porto in their last VELUX Champions League game of the year.

Tatran Presov (SVK) vs Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) 19:21 (8:6)

Naturhouse La Rioja have made it into the knockout stage to fight in repeating last year's Last 16 participation after beating Presov narrowly 21:19.

It was rather messy first half with number of technical faults, goalkeepers’ saves and many misses on both sides.

Presov led at half-time by two goals, as key players of La Rioja, including top three scorer before this round, Cristian Malmagro, were struggling.

It was more about determination and will to make it into the next phase of the competition that helped La Rioja turn the match in their favour after the break.

Angel Fernandez scored the last goal of the match but it was Richard Kappelin with crucial save of Tomas Cip's shot in the last minute to give La Rioja the edge and chance to attack in the last moments of the game.

Jesus Gonzalez knew when to take the time out, fourteen seconds before the end but Angel Fernandez had the last word from the left wing.



Radoslav Antl and Igor Chupryna have been the main names for the home side but all attention turned towards the Spanish side in this game.

Success from the back court in second half helped the team from Logrono to complete a comeback after the break.

La Rioja looked tired as the team missed several players, however experience prevailed from the difficult matches.

Carlos Molina leads the score list on the away side with seven goals and Radoslav Antl has dominated on the home side with six goals.

Presov coach Rastislav Trtik comments after the game: "We have given La Rioja a big fight today. There was a good fighting spirit in the team. We still miss pressure from the back court, but the match was very dramatic and we have seen great side in La Rioja."

La Rioja ends the group second place in the standings, with fourteen points and Presov remain bottom with only two wins.

La Rioja's Miguel Sanchez Migallon explains it wasn't an easy win: “It was really tough match. The defence of Tatran were really good and hard to beat. Their defence gave us a lot of complications to enter attack. The most important moments of the game were the saves of our goalkeeper at the very end of the match. It was important to us to win this encounter because we needed to succeed to qualify for the next stages.”

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu/Tomas Cuncik/ec