Motor take important step towards Last 16Article
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REVIEW: A one-goal away win against La Rioja gives Motor Zaporozhye the edge ahead of the second leg of the play-offs.

Motor take important step toward Last 16

Ukrainian champions HC Motor Zaporozhye took a major step toward the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, winning the first – and away – play-off match against Naturhouse La Rioja 31:30.

VELUX EHF Champions League Play-off
Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) 30:31 (15:14)

With his tenth goal in the match, which made it 31:29 for Motor Zaporozhye in the dying minutes of the game, Belarusian playmaker Barys Pukhouski gave his team a big advantage ahead of the second leg of the play-offs next weekend.

La Rioja reduced the goal difference in the final seconds, but were unable to equalise, leaving Motor with a one-goal edge ahead of the return match.

In the beginning, not much pointed to a Ukrainian win as La Rioja got the far better start in Palacio de los Deportes.

It did not take the home team long to take a five-goal lead at 7:2 then 8:3.

La Rioja’s 5-1 defence proved a tough challenge for Motor’s attack, as was Swedish goalkeeper Richard Kappelin behind the aggressive system.

However, as the second half progressed, the visitors found solutions to La Rioja’s defence and began to hit the net behind Kappelin, who was replaced by Gurutz Aguinagalde as Motor minimised the distance to one goal by half-time.

The second half was just as equal as the last part of the first 30 minutes. One minute and seven seconds after the break, Motor held their first lead at 16:15. From that point it was neck and neck, as Kappelin returned and kept the hosts in the game.

In the deciding phase however, Motor proved to be the better team, taking their first two-goal advantage at 28:26 with three minutes and 25 seconds left.

La Rioja could not come back, and Motor and their group of loyal fans, who had taken the long trip to Spain, could celebrate a crucial win.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg