ABC/UMinho hold their nerve against BregenzArticle
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GROUP 2 REVIEW: ABC shock the hosts after a back-and-forth game that saw the Portuguese side claim a win by the narrowest of margins

. Maccabi of Tel Aviv came out on top as the Israeli side earned their first win ever in an European competition, brushing aside Achilles Bocholt

ABC/UMinho hold their nerve against Bregenz

Bregenz failed to take advantage of their home court against the Portuguese champions ABC/UMinho. The guests took control in the second half, but needed a late push to win, 33:32.

In the second tie there was not only pride and a better position in the Men’s EHF Cup Qualification at stake in the game between Maccabi and Bocholt.  The Israeli side coming out on top, after a match with several lead changes

• ABC/UMinho will try to emulate Porto winning seven games in the group phase
• ABC lost their two previous qualifying tournaments
After a 15-year hiatus, the Portuguese side will play in Group D

• The Israeli side took 3rd place and will continue in EHF Cup Round 3
• In their fourth game in Europe, Maccabi earned their first win
• Pomeranz was Maccabi’s top scorer (ten goals) adding to his 12 scored against ABC



ABC/UMinho (POR) vs Bregenz Handball (AUT) 33:32 (16:16)

There was no shortage of drama near Lake Constance. The home fans left disappointed after a hard-fought game that saw ABC/UMinho claim one of the most important wins in their history.

Excellent attacks in first half

The lead changed hands five times in only 30 minutes, this could only mean that the Bregenz fans were in for a long afternoon. This deadlock came from the sturdy attacks from both sides -- each side boasting a shot efficiency of 60 per cent. However, clues that ABC were the better team were soon clear to see as Nuno Pereira seemed unstoppable with seven goals.

Steady nerves help ABC

It quickly emerged that the game was to be won in the attack and ABC were the better team in that section. Both Pereira and right back Pedro Spinola had astonishing games, with 11 and 8 goals scored respectively, as the Portuguese champions pulled away thanks to a 6:2 run between the 41st and 48th minute. While Bregenz managed to claw back and close the game (29:29), ABC had the stronger nerves and after a well-taken timeout by coach Carlos Resende, the Portuguese side won the game by the lowest of margins, 33:32, thanks to a Miguel Pereira goal. ABC will play against HBC Nantes, TTH Holstebro, HC Motor Zaporozhye, Besiktas Mogaz HT and Dinamo Bucuresti in Group D.

Robert Hedin coach of Bregenz Handball spoke after the game: "Of course I am disappointed at the moment because I wanted to play in the Champions League. But I’m very proud of my team. We have to solve some problems concerning defence and the interaction between defence and keepers. We had a good start with the win of the Supercup 2016. Now we will focus on our league this Friday. With a bit of luck we can enter the group phase of the EHF Cup."

Carlos Resende coach of ABC/UMinho commented: "Of course we are very happy to win because it was our target to make the group phase. We want to create a good image of Portuguese handball. The whole team is Portuguese. But I also want to thank Bregenz, they play really good handball and created big problems for us. It was a tough match."

Maccabi CASTRO Tel Aviv (ISR) vs Achilles Bocholt (BEL) 33:30 (16:15)

A well-fought first half

While both Maccabi and Bocholt had a bright start in yesterday’s games, their opponents’ strength and experience were the decisive factors. All was forgotten today and it was the Israeli side who looked more competitive in the first seven minutes, taking a 4:1 lead. Spurred on by the Kedziora brothers, Damian and Bartosz, who were Bocholt’s best players in their loss against Bregenz, the Belgian side clawed back and after a 4:0 run and found themselves in the lead. However, Maccabi kept the game in check and without leading by more than one goal, led 16:15 at half-time.

72 per cent efficiency for Maccabi

No defensive adjustment made in the second half was enough, as both teams continued to have impressive shooting efficiency. After three lead changes, the deadlock was finally broken between the 42nd and the 48th minute, when Maccabi enjoyed a 4:1 run, to jump to a 29:25 lead. It was too much for the Belgian side, who tried their best but failed to make a comeback, as the Israeli team snapped their first ever win in an European competition, 33:30.

Top scorer for the winning side Chen Pomeranz commented: "We prepared ourselves well for this game and we stuck to our game plan. We wanted to approach the game in a slower fashion than yesterday. It worked, but it was exciting right up until the end."

Bart Lenders, coach of Achilles Bocholt said post match: "We scored a lot of goals over the two games. We wanted to play fast and we did that in both matches. We had too many small mistakes and our goalkeepers were not playing the best the can play. But I am happy with how we played overall."

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / bc