Lucky Zebras take their first pointsArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: Zarabec and Wolff secure Kiel’s 27:26 against Aalborg at Gislason’s return to the bench

Lucky Zebras take their first points

They had to wait until the last shot, and the last 15 seconds of the thriller took more than two minutes – but finally THW Kiel took their first two points of the Champions league season in the opener of group B on Wednesday night. Aalborg were a high hurdle to cross.

  • After his back surgery, THW coach Alfred Gislason was back on the bench
  • Miha Zarabec was Kiel’s top scorer with five goals from five attempts
  • Aalborg lost their second match on German ground after losing 27:30 at Flensburg in their opener


THW Kiel (GER) vs Aalborg Handbold (DEN) 27:26 (13:12)

When the final free throw of Tobias Ellebaek was blocked by the THW defenders, the whole Sparkassenarena jumped for joy. Thanks to a tight 27:26 win against the Danish champions, Kiel cheated the gallows and took their first points in this Champions League season – and are now equal in points with Aalborg.

“This was an extremely important victory. Though we could have sealed the deal earlier, I am satisfied that we ended the negative series,” said Kiel’s coach Alfred Gislason, who returned on the bench after a back surgery last Friday, which forced him to miss the 21:32 defeat at Kielce.

On Wednesday, he watched a constantly changing match in the first half. Aalborg were on an equal level, but better goalkeeping was the key for Kiel's 13:12 half-time lead. Andreas Wolff saved nearly 40% of all shots, including the last Aalborg chance before the break.

Duel to the finish

A long 13 years after their last duels in the 2003/2004 EHF Cup quarter-final, this match was the first ever Champions League tie between Kiel and Aalborg. Coming back after the break, Kiel still could not manage to cast off their opponents. Even with a one or two-man advantage they were not dominant.

In the middle of the second half, the score was 18:18, although Wolff still was on fire. Gislason changed his line-up. Aalborg had nothing to change, and they managed to take the lead again at 20:19. This advance lasted until 24:23 in the 49th minute – then a triple strike by Niclas Ekberg (2) and Miha Zarabec turned the tide for 26:24, with Aalborg failing to score for seven minutes.

But the match was not decided, as Kiel still lacked precision, and it took until Ellebaek’s final shot before the hosts could celebrate.

“We had a different plan for the last attack,” said Aalborg’s coach Aron Kristjansson.

Goalkeeper Wolff was extremely happy.

“To concede only 26 goals is brilliant, we fought well for 60 minutes and deserved this important victory,” he said.

“It was a matter of the will today. Besides our will, the supporters stood as one behind us, they have understood the current situation we are in,” added THW manager Thorsten Storm.

TEXT: Björn Pazen/jh