Zaporozhye hope for a miracle in VeszpremArticle
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PREVIEW: Zaporozhye need to pull something magical out of their hat in the Last 16 return match against Veszprem, if they want to catch up with the five-goal deficit from the first leg – but such a feat would not be unprecedented

Zaporozhye hope for a miracle in Veszprem

Hungarian champions MVM Veszprém won the first leg of their Last 16 encounter with Motor Zaporozhye 29:24 in Ukraine and left their opponents with a huge mountain to climb ahead of the second leg on Saturday.

MVM Veszprem (HUN) vs Motor Zaporozhye (UKR)
Saturday 26 March, 17.00h (CET) live on ehfTV

“No one in our team is giving up,” claims Igor Soroka, Motor Zaporozhye’s most prolific scorer in the first leg against MVM Veszprém with seven goals which, however, could not prevent Veszprem from taking home a comfortable 29:24 win.

That leaves the Ukrainian champions with a huge mountain to climb ahead of the encounter’s second leg on Saturday, as Veszprem have not lost a home game in three years and even THW Kiel’s feat from 2013, when the German champions won 29:28, would not be enough for the Ukranian outfit to eliminate Xavi Sabaté’s team.

The last time Veszprem failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League was in 2012 when Ademar Leon ousted the Hungarian champions.

In that year Veszprém also suffered one of the heaviest home defeats in their EHF Champions League history, and – take notice Motor Zaporozhye – the margin Füchse Berlin won the group match with, 33:24, would be enough for Motor to qualify.

Zaporozhye played an excellent first half against Veszprem in the first leg, and Soroka with his seven goals made up for the poor performance of the team’s usual stars such as Barys Pukhouski, who scored only once from six attempts.

But the second half belonged to Veszprem and despite last year’s finalists not having the best day, Renato Sulic, Gasper Marguc and Momir Ilic inspired their team to an excellent run that left the home side behind.

There is furthermore some good news coming from Veszprem’s injury camp. Péter Gulyás recovered from his long-term injur, but Veszprem will not be able to field new signing Isaias Guardiola, who is ineligible to play in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

However, with Gulyás back in the line-up, head coach Sabaté has a deputy right back to take some burden of captain László Nagy’s shoulders.

TEXT: Bence Martha / ts