No winner in Moscow thrillerArticle
«Go back

GROUP C REVIEW: Chekhovskie Medvedi and La Rioja played a tight and exciting game. In the end there was no winner in it

No winner in Moscow thriller

The perennial Russian champions came back after the unsuccessful first half against La Rioja in a match which ended in a draw 28:28.

  • Just like in the previous season, Chekhovskie Medvedi faced La Rioja in their opening match of the VELUX Champions League

  • The Spanish side were better in the first half, but Medvedi made a comeback after the break

  • Two players of the host team, Dmitri Santalov and Kirill Kotov, became the top scorers of the game with 6 goals

  • The Russian champion will face Elverum Handball in the next match, while La Rioja will play Montpellier HB


Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs. Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) 28:28 (14:16)

Just about a year ago, Medvedi also faced La Rioja in their opening game of the VELUX EHF Champions League. That time, the Russian side won in a thrilling match 27:26. Now the game was very close again, but there was no winner as the final score was 28:28.

The team from Logrono were eager to upset their opponents away from home, and they dominated throughout the first half. Even if it was Medvedi that opened the score, it was the only time before the break when they were actually in lead.

The Spanish side were more efficient in attack and solid in defense, and led by five goals in the 23th minute (13:8). Yet the hosts managed to reduce the gap and were behind by just two goals (16:14) at half-time.

During the break, coach Vladimir Maximov probably found the right words for his players, who started to look more determined and aggressive early in the second half.

For La Rioja it was an unlucky spell. First they missed a seven-meter shot, and then their line player Javier Garcia Rubio injured his foot and limped off the court. Smartly using their chances, Medvedi seized the initiative and first drew level at 19:19, and then went in front 22:19.

Nervous final minutes

Yet La Rioja did not give up and weathered the storm.

The last part of the game was very exciting. The players were obviously nervous and made a lot of mistakes. No team were able to build more than a two-goal lead.

It could have been worse for the guests, but several minutes from time their goalkeeper Richard Kappelin saved two penalties from Maxim Kuretkov and Dmitry Kovalev.

On the other hand, La Rioja were the last to attack in the dying seconds but they could not score the decisive goal, making the draw quite a fair result.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ew