Dramatic finish sees Veszprem narrowly past Brest, champions lose again and Kielce survive scareArticle
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GROUP A REVIEW: Darko Djukic had a 7-metre throw saved by Roland Mikler in the last second, as Veszprem rallied past Brest, Montpellier lost away in Barcelona while Kielce beat Kristianstad
»2018-19 Men's News
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Dramatic finish see Veszprem narrowly past Brest, the champions lose again and Kielce survive scare

It might have been expected after a slow start to the season, but the news still came as a shock when Veszprem announced they had parted ways with head coach Ljubomir Vranjes on Monday.

There was not a lot of time for new coach Istvan Gulyas to rally his troops, as another defeat would have seen Veszprem in a difficult position, putting more pressure on them after their worst start in 23 years in the premier European competition.

But Veszprem needed more than experience and depth to win against Brest, with goalkeeper Roland Mikler saving a 7-metre throw in the last second to bring the Hungarian side their second win of the season

  • Veszprem ended the game with a 6:2 run to seal their second win of the season
  • Montpellier's fourth straight loss means they have made the worst start for a title holder
  • Kielce continued their good form but not before Kristianstad gave them a scare


HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Telekom Veszprem HC (HUN) 28:29 (16:15)

With two sides that looked like “defence first” teams, few would have expected such a high-octane start from the two sides, with four lead-changes in the first nine minutes and five goals scored apiece, as both defences seemed to go missing.

After taking a time-out to try and cool his team down, Brest’s coach, Manolo Cadenas, changed the whole side and his decision worked wonders, as the Belarussian team was the first to open up a two-goal gap, 8:6.

But an excellent Manuel Strlek, who scored four goals in the first half, led the charge for Veszprem, as the Hungarian powerhouse tied the game, 12:12, with both sides boasting over 60% in shooting efficiency after 25 minutes.

Yet it was Brest again who had a slight advantage at half-time, 16:15, after an impressive Vid Poteko goal, who spun around and scored with a beautiful shot that left Ronald Mikler shell-shocked between his posts.

A superb start from goalkeeper Ivan Matskevich - including a goal scored in an open Veszprem net - let Brest enjoy another two-goal lead, but the experienced Hungarian outfit had enough to stay in the game and even take the lead, 20:19, after 36 minutes.

But this was not the end of one of the most exciting games of the season. As Brest strengthened their defence an unbelievable 4:0 run spurred by Darko Djukic in attack saw the hosts take a 26:23 lead with 15 minutes to go.

Then Veszprem bit back with their own 4:0 partial, thanks to Momir Ilic, and that was the moment when the game was won.

As the Hungarian side entered into passive play with eight seconds to go, the ball came to Brest, who were awarded a had a 7-metre throw to try and tie the game. Roland Mikler saved Darko Djukic’s shot and Veszprem had their second win of the season, as the Hungarian team celebrated the first win for coach Istvan Gulyas in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

The importance of the two points under unusual circumstances was highlighted by Veszprem's Borut Mackovsek, "It is a huge challenge for a coach to take the steer of the team just a few days to the start of the away match in the Champions League. It was critical to unite and demonstrate our team spirit. We had to win this match."

Manolo Cadenas, head coach Meshkov Brest, Unfortunately we failed to convert a 7 meter throw. Veszprem won and I cannot doubt how well-deserved their win is. Should things have developed another way, we could have counted on 2 points. Veszprem was more focused in the last minutes of the match - this was underlying to their victory. Both teams demonstrated good and exciting handball. Veszprem was 100% charged for a fight as never before. They played with enormous commitment."

PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 33:31 (17:12)

It definitely looked like a clash between two teams going in opposite directions, as Kielce were searching for their third win in a row, while Kristianstad looked to break a three-game losing streak.

But while the Swedish side looked like they stood no chance in front of the Polish champions, who seem to be getting more powerful each week, in the end it was a tale of two different halves.

Another good start from top goal scorer Alex Dujshebaev propelled the hosts to a 5:2 lead.

More focused than last week, when they were handed their biggest defeat ever in the VELUX EHF Champions League, Kristianstad limited the damage in the first half, but they could not stop what looked like a well-oiled machine in Kielce.

With nine different scorers in the first half, the Polish side took a 17:12 lead at half-time, mainly thanks to their attack, where they scored 60% of their shots.

While everything looked to go seamlessly for the hosts, a 10:3 run sparked by right back Stig Tore Nilsen and left wing Alfred Ehn saw Kristianstad shock Kielce and take the lead, 22:20, with 20 minutes to go.

It was time for desperate measures and a well-taken time-out by coach Talant Dujshebaev saw Kielce back in contention, 24:23, thanks to a 4:1 run spurred by backs Alex Dujshebaev and Michal Jurecki.

The game was on a knife edge, but Kielce’s experience and the trio of left wing Arkadiusz Moryto and backs Jurecki and Alex Dujshebaev proved too much for Kristianstad, who ultimately lost, 33:31.

Kristianstad coach Ola Lindgren wanted to banish the ghosts of Round 3, "We had a tough week, we had a terrible game against Barcelona, so we wanted to show everybody that we are not a bad team and we can compete with everyone. I am satisfied with my team today. I was dreaming about one point, but in the end Kielce was cleverer."

Talant Dujshbaev, Kielce coach, blamed himself for his team's nervy second half, even if he was not going into much detail, "It was my fault that we didn't play on as high level in the second half as we should. I will draw conclusions."

Kielce will try to preserve their winning run on home soil next week against the mighty Vardar, as Kristianstad travel to Rhein Neckar Löwen in search of their first win of the season.

Barça Lassa (ESP) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 35:27 (18:13)

It is unprecedented to see a title holder lose their first four games of the season, but Montpellier seem to be failing to find an answer to end their poor run.

The French side have their fair share of injuries, in Jonas Truchanovicius, Michael Guigou and last season’s VELUX EHF FINAL 4 MVP, Diego Simonet, but their European season appears to be falling to pieces after another loss, 35:27, against Barça Lassa.

While Montpellier might have enjoyed a bright start to the game, Barça took a 6:1 streak between the 6th and the 13th minute and never looked back from that moment.

With Gonzalo Perez de Vargas recording eight saves in the first half, Montpellier often found the way to goal difficult. However, Barça’s back line, especially Raul Entrerrios – six goals – and Dika Mem – four goals – were unstoppable, as the Spanish side boasted a healthy 18:13 lead at the break.

But also former Montpellier line player, Ludovic Fabregas, a summer transfer for the Spanish powerhouse, who proved unstoppable, scoring six times as Barça inflicted more pain on Montpellier.

There was never a moment when Barça’s win was in doubt and the Spanish team also boasted their offensive prowess, scoring a plethora of goals once again with 35. However, Montpellier did have one of their worst ever defensive performances in the VELUX EHF Champions League, receiving only three goals less than their record, 38, against Kolding and Szeged.

The Spanish team enjoyed their third win in a row and will travel to Brest next week, while Montpellier will try to break their duck in a home game against Veszprem.

Perez de Vargas spoke about Barça start to the season, "We are fine since the beginning of the season, we’re on the good way. Today we took the leadership and we did what we had to do."

Coach Xavi Pascual was pleased with his side's all-round efforts, "Today we played a great game. We started very well in defence and in attack. In the first half, changed the defence, and in attack we found good solutions, but Nikola Portner was very well."

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu /at