Barcelona calling for THW KielArticle
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LAST 16 REVIEW: Extraordinary Landin goalkeeping performance ensures German side win by enough against Szeged to move forward.

Barcelona calling for THW Kiel

It was a tough piece of work for 55 minutes, but finally THW Kiel made it to their 12th straight EHF Champions League Quarter-final since 2004 and their 16th in total.

After their 29:33 defeat in the Last 16 first leg in Hungary on Sunday (20 March), 10,285 fans cheered Kiel on in the Sparkassen Arena in northern Germany to overturn the four-goal deficit and win by seven - 36:29 - and thus history repeated as last season, Kiel also eliminated Szeged in the VELUX EHF Champions League, but in the quarter-finals.

Despite an impressive performance from playmaker Dean Bombac, Szeged failed - mainly against THW goalkeeper Niklas Landin, who saved 14 shots overall including three penalty shots in crunch times.

Kiel will now face their old rivals FC Barcelona Lassa in the quarter-finals and back in 2011, they were eliminated by the Catalans at the same stage, missing the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for their one and only time.

Now they want revenge in a rematch of two previous EHF Champions League finals (2000 and 2010).

“It was an incredible atmosphere and an incredible performance of our team,” said THW coach Alfred Gislason after the game. “Niklas Landin was extraordinary and the key to the success. He is one of the world’s best goalkeepers and he is there, when it counts, mainly at penalties.

“Thanks to his performance the rest of the team improved,” he finished.


THW Kiel (GER) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) 36:29 (18:14)
THW Kiel win 65:62 on aggregate

In an interview with ahead of the match, THW Kiel’s wing Dominik Klein demanded that his ears must be ringing with noise when entering the Sparkassen Arena - and the fans fulfilled his wish with a volume of 107 decibels before the match and after.

But the away team was not impressed by the crowd in the beginning as for the first 10 minutes one could only guess why Szeged nominated 16 players as just two were involved in all their goals.

Four times Jonas Källman netted – each time from a Dean Bombac pass, then Bombac himself scored to make it 5:4 in favour of the Hungarian side - the first of a total seven strikes.

The loud crowd had suddenly lost its voice, but Kiel managed to turn the tide as Landin warmed up and his side forged ahead.

When Landin even netted into the empty Szeged goal from 30 metres to make it 11:7 on 18 minutes, the tie was level on aggregate for the first time and Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor swiftly took a team time out with the wall of sound from the home fans as his backdrop.

The Spaniard on the Hungarian bench clearly found the right words as following their break, Szeged’s defence stood stronger, they increased their variety in attack and were back in front with five minutes to go of the first half at 14:13.

But though Kiel were not consistent and successful with their one-man advantages, thanks to Szeged’s ill-discipline, they were again ahead by four (18:14) after 30 minutes, but nothing like their 18:10 half-time lead in the 2015 quarter-final, at which point that match was already over following their two-goal deficit from the first leg.

Bombac again was on fire and at the beginning of the second half he netted his sixth goal from the seventh attempt for the 20:17 in favour of the home side, but his THW counterpart, right back Marko Vujin was as efficient as the Slovenian - and the 10,285 fans in the arena went crazy when the Serbian netted in cold as ice from the penalty line to make the aggregate victory clear as his side went up by five for the first time at 23:18.

After Vujin’s eighth of his total nine goals, Kiel virtually were in the quarter-finals for the first time with two-thirds of the game gone.

Despite their lead, the match was on edge for Kiel as their lead constantly changed between three and five goals – the difference between winning and losing the tie – and the strong German side could not decisively cast-off the brave fighting Hungarian side.

One reason was goalkeeper Piotr Wyszomirski, who saved 100% of what the hosts literally threw at him during that period.

But Landin was to assert his authority as the number goalkeeper on court as he saved a Bombac penalty in the 53rd minute, boosting his team to their first six-goal lead at 32:26, forcing another Szeged team time out.

When Zsolt Balogh failed against Landin with another penalty just two minutes later and Niklas Ekberg netted for Kiel to make it eight goals difference at 34:26, the deal was sealed and ,as if, to remind everybody of his man of the match performance, Landin saved another penalty.

“I conserved my most important saves for the last minutes,” Landin said with a smile at the end of game before adding: “It was a special motivation, knowing that we face Barcelona, if we win.”

“Not everybody had expected us to proceed,” said THW left wing Rune Dahmke, “but with an absolute will to win we took this hurdle.

“Now we face one of the best teams in the world with some of our former players like Jicha, Jallouz and Sigurdsson.”

TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / amc