Sporting snatch two points in Chekhov; Presov take points off BjerringbroArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Carlos Ruesga’s shot in the last second secures Sporting CP their second straight victory, while solid TATRAN surprise Bjerringbro

Sporting snatch two points in Chekhov, Presov take points off Bjerringbro

Portuguese champions Sporting CP came back from a four-goal deficit at half-time to claim an impressive away victory at Chekhovskie Medvedi in the first of Saturday’s VELUX EHF Champions League matches. Elsewhere in Group C, TATRAN Presov earned a surprising win against the main candidates for the play-off spot, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, after a fantastic team performance.

• Sporting maintain their 100% record in the Champions League 2018/19, while Medvedi are yet to earn their first points
• In-form Sporting goalkeeper Matevz Skok prevents the Russian champions from scoring any goals after the 47th minute
• TATRAN Presov win the opening two group phase matches for the first time in their history in European cup matches

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs Sporting CP (POR) 22:23 (14:10)

For much of the first half, it was a very close game, with both sides exchanging goals. But after the score stood level at 4:4 in the 10th minute and 8:8 seven minutes later, Medvedi took control of the match.

Sporting made several mistakes in attack and scored only twice in the rest of the half, and although the ‘Bears’ also lacked efficiency and missed two penalty shots, they converted their chances better and led by four goals (14:10) at the break.

"We were very uneasy against a physically well-prepared team. But most important was that we could win," said Sporting's Carol Marzo Frankis after the match. "Our team was more fortunate."

Early in the second half, Sporting increased their tempo and slashed the gap to 16:15, but the Bears again pulled clear at 22:18 by the 47th minute. What followed was a quiet spell where both teams failed to score between the 47th and 55th minute, before Fabio Chiuffa finally found the goal for the visitors.

In the next three minutes, Sporting scored three more goals to draw level at 22:22. Their goalkeeper Matevz Skok was brilliant in the second half, and his saves prevented Medvedi from scoring any goals after the 47th minute.

It was level until the last second, when Carlos Ruesga scored from a free throw, earning Sporting a win from a dramatic match.

TATRAN Presov (SVK) vs Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) 26:24 (12:12)

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg had the edge for most of the first half, but Presov managed to close their visitors down in the last minutes and stayed level at the break. Both teams concentrated their firepower mostly in the back court however, the hosts were unlucky, hitting five posts in the opening 30 minutes.

Bjerringbro keeper Aljosa Rezar had a big impact with his fine saves throughout the game, arguably competing for the Man of the Match award with TATRAN’s Janus Lapajne. Presov coach Slavko Goluza showed his mastermind tactics with effective changes in the goal, as both Igor Chupryna and Mario Cvitkovic made crucial saves after the break.

A lack of wing play on the home side caused the most responsibility to fall on the trio Oliver Rabek, Bruno Butorac and Lukas Urban.

The second half of the match was like a seesaw, with both teams taking their turn in the lead, but neither managed to build a significant advantage. The first fast break of the game came in the 35th minute, as the teams were compact and made minimum technical faults until then.

Lapajne took the initiative for Presov, scoring four goals in the last 10 minutes, which made the difference despite Bjerringbro-Silkeborg’s change of defensive system from 1-5 to 0-6. Urban`s in-flight goal a minute before the end was the cherry on the cake for the home fans.

"It was a huge victory today. The opponent was very good but at the end of the match we showed strong will, courage and had a bit of the sporting luck to grab the victory," said TATRAN coach Slavko Goluza. "I want to sincerely thank all the fans that came out in a big number today."

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cg