Kielce stun Barca as Montpellier edge out IFKArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: Polish giants KS Vive Tauron Kielce celebrated their first ever win against VELUX EHF Champions League holders FC Barcelona Lassa on a day of enthralling action

Kielce stun Barca as Montpellier edge out IFK

While HC Vardar ended their series of defeats in a highly dominant way, KIF Kolding Kobenhavn are even further away from the Last 16 after their ninth defeat in their 10 matches, remaining at the bottom of Group B. Kielce earned a memorable win at Barcelona thanks to a flowing team effort, garnished by a superb second-half performance from their goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal. Montpellier ground out a vital win at Kristianstad to stay sixth in the group, surging three points clear of their Swedish rivals, who now face an uphill task to reach the knockout stage of the competition. MOL-Pick flourish in some of their best play of the season against Rhein-Neckar Löwen.


HC Vardar (MKD) vs KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) 34:24 (18:8)

KIF Kolding Kobenhavn became the latest victim of HC Vardar’s revenge in a very difficult way.

After losing the last three VELUX EHF Champions League matches, the Macedonians were notably eager from the first second to end this series.

Jane Sandanski Arena went crazy right from the start and after the 1:0 had been the first, last and only advance of the Danish champions in the whole match and after a lacklustre performance.

From the very first moment, the Vardar defence stood like a rock and Kolding Kobenhavn faced huge problems in attack, under full pressure.

On the other hand, Vardar took the profit of those turnovers, scoring easy goals.

After coach Raul Gonzalez had been a little bit afraid that only some of his players scored in the previous match, the full range of the squad scored from all cylinders against the helpless Danes.

After only eight minutes and a 1:5 deficit, KIF coach Henrik Kronborg needed to use his green time-out card.

But it was not worth it, as nothing changed.



Speaking after the match, Kronborg said: “Congratulate to Vardar, they showed that they are very strong team with many quality players which can always play at the highest level. We weren’t lucky today because after our solid performance at Barcelona and Kielce we believed that maybe we can take one or two points here. But, unfortunately we were down after only 15 minutes and it was obvious that we would lose the game. Vardar were too good for us and they deserved this win by margin of 10 goals.”

Vardar kept full control of the game, scoring spectacular goals and keeping the defence close like the Fort Knox.

The KIF players seemed to resign quite early on as all measures they took in attack had not been enough to turn the match around.

In contrast, the number of missed chances rose, thus the deficit increased.

Right with the half-time buzzer, left wing Timur Dibirov netted in another counter-attack goal to have the first double figured distance on the scoreboard (18:8).

Later when the winner was confirmed, the only question was whether KIF could stop a complete downswing after a poor attack efficiency of 24 percent after 30 minutes.

But though Bo Spellerberg (top scorer by six goals) tried hard to push his team however KIF were far below par until the end.

Vardar easily remained in control, still scoring from all positions.

There was no sign of the Macedonian side slowing down.

Focused, concentrated and determined they even managed to extend the gap intermediately to 13 goals at 30:17 eight minutes before the end.

Finally it was a 10-point deficit again.

Line player Alem Toskic thanks the fans and his coach for this win: “It is never easy to play when you are declared as absolute favorites. In the past 7 days our coach Raul excellently prepared our team and we showed how good we can be when we are giving our maximum. I congratulate all my teammates for this important win and I want to thank to our loyal audience for their support."

IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 29:30 (15:15)

French vice-champions Montpellier HB earned an important victory at IFK Kristianstad in their dog fight for a sixth-place finish, which guarantees a Last 16 berth.

The dramatic contest which the visitors swung their way after overcoming a 26:23 deficit in the last 10 minutes, was sealed in the final 30 seconds after IFK winger Kristian Björnsen hit the post from the right flank, dashing the home team’s hopes of salvaging a point.

It was a tight battle from start to finish as Kristianstad fought back from an early 5:3 deficit and led 11:9 before the visitors hit back to stay on level terms in a fast-paced first half.



IFK looked poised to come out on top after carving out a 23:21 lead midway through the second half and then opening up a three-goal advantage as the game headed into the home straight.

However, their attack then came to a screeching halt as Montpellier forced the final twist thanks to Slovenian playmaker Jure Dolenec and Tunisian Aymen Toumi, who scored eight goals from 10 shots.

Dolenec and Michael Guigou chipped in with six each for the visitors, while Andreas Cederholm led IFK with eight goals from 14 efforts.

Jerry Tollbring netted six and Bjornsen added five, but his last-gasp miss when he was through on goal proved costly for Kristianstad, who have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition. 

Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer said: "I'm very happy with the win and congratulate my team on a very strong game. We meet a very good home team in IFK Kristianstad with a fantastic atmosphere in a beatiful arena. We have currently a very tight match schedule so it was important for us with a win before the CL goes on break.”

Speaking from IFK Kristianstad, coach Ola Lindgren: "We are very disappointed. We had our opportunities at 26:23 and they got 2 suspensions in a row but we lost that period and they came back into the match. We have problems in our defence. It was again 30 goals even with a good goalkeeper!”


FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) 31:33 (19:16)

FC Barcelona Lassa appeared to be heading for another predictable day in their Blaugrana office after romping to an early 6:2 lead against KS Vive Tauron Kielce but were instead served a shocking defeat by the Polish giants.

Judging by their effervescent performance which silenced the Spanish home crowd and had several dozen away fans in full swing, Kielce will be worthy contenders to win their maiden VELUX EHF Champions League title – should they reach the competition’s final.

Macedonian right back Kiril Lazarov fired on all cylinders and scored 12 goals from 14 shots for Barcelona but his heroics were not enough to stop Kielce from celebrating their first ever win in six meetings with the reigning champions.

Having carved out the early advantage, Barcelona held on to it in a high-scoring first half, although Tobias Reichmann slashed the deficit to three goals on the half-time buzzer, drilling in an unstoppable effort from almost the halfway line.

His thunderbolt offered a taste of what came after the interval, when Kielce turned a 22:20 deficit into a crucial 28:24 advantage with a barrage of fast breaks and easy goals from either flank.



Although Barcelona profited from a couple of two-minute suspensions for Kielce players, drawing level at 29:29, two goals by Michal Jurecki in the closing stages made sure the Spanish giants suffered their first home defeat of the season.

The evergreen Karol Bielecki led the winners with nine goals, eight of them from the seven-metre penalty line, with goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal producing a brilliant second-half show as Kielce’s defence stifled out Barcelona’s attack.  

Krzysztof Lijewski and Ivan Cupic added four each for the Polish outfit, who are now only a point behind Barcelona in the standings in their quest to finish top of the group and earn a bye into the quarter-finals.

Kiril Lazarov stood out for Barca but had little support from his teammates, with a misfiring Wael Jallouz netting only four goals from 11 attempts.  

Barcelona right wing player Victor Tomas spoke after the game: "Congratulate to Kielce for their victory. It was a very intense match. In attack we were fine, but too many goals against us. It was a very physical game and we have injuries therefore we could not get options in last minutes."

Kielce coach, Talant Dujshebaev expresses his happiness for his team's wim: "For us it is a historic day winning for the first time at FC Barcelona. We are improving as a team and are trying to move up in the group. It was a very nice game. The first half was Barca and the second may have been lucky but luck also plays."

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 30:24 (14:12)

MOL-Pick Szeged enjoyed an emphatic win over Rhein-Neckar Löwen with their best performance of the season in the VELUX EHF Champions League after Slovenian back Dean Bombac scored 11 from 12 shots goals against the German league leaders.

After a balanced start, Szeged opened up a 9:5 lead and never looked back in their packed arena, where the home fans created an electrifying atmosphere.

With Bombac pulling the strings, the Hungarian side extended their advantage to 20:15 in the second half, as RNL slipped to their third defeat in Europe’s elite club competition.

The outcome paved the way for a fascinating final stretch in the group after the international break, with only three points separating the top five teams.



Barcelona lead the section with 15 points from 10 games, one ahead of Kielce after losing 33:31 at home to the Polish side earlier on Saturday.

Third-placed RNL have 13 points after they missed a chance to leap into the driving seat, a feat they could have achieved had they beaten Szeged.

Szeged, in fourth, also have 13 points while fifth-placed Vardar have 12, meaning that all five teams are still in contention to win the group and thus earn a by into the quarter-finals.

Spaniard Antonio Garcia Robledo provided worthy support to the effervescent Bombac, netting 8 goals from 12 attempts for Szeged, while Mads Mensah Larsen led RNL with an identical ratio – eight goals from 12 shots.

RNL goalkeeper Richard Stochl spoke after the game: "As long as I remember, I have never won in Szeged with any of the teams I've come here with, not Montpellier, not Zaporozhye, not Dunaerr. This is what happened today too. The hosts played very well and we couldn't do anything about it."

Uwe Gensheimer added six goals for the visitors, whose normally ironclad defence cracked under intense pressure from a fast-flowing Szeged outfit.

Head coach of Szeged, Juan Carlos Pastor, congratulates his team: "I would like to congratulate to all my players, it was a fantastic game. Two of my players, Balogh and Vranjes played with injuries, but they played excellently. Today's performance in defence was maybe the best this year. It was a very difficult task, as Löwen has excellent players in each position but we were able to stop them. We played very calmly in offence, which had its result. Winning today with 6 goals is important, as now our goal difference is +1 against Löwen."


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / ec