Szeged stay unbeaten and Zaporozhye open their accountArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: MOL-Pick Szeged continued an unbroken run of victories, while HC Motor Zaporozhye beat Zagreb for their first win and Nantes cruised against Celje

Szeged stay unbeaten and Zaporozhye open their account

MOL-Pick Szeged held on to top spot in Group B after a fifth successive VELUX EHF Champions League win over SG Flensburg-Handewitt. At the other end of the table, Zaporozhye won the first two points of their season, beating HC PDD Zagreb without any problems.

Meanwhile Nantes made their 38:27 victory over Celje look easy, securing their second home win of the season.

  • Zsolt Balogh has played over 300 games in Szeged’s shirt
  • Bombac, Maqueda and Sostaric together scored 14 goals
  • Zagreb's Josip Bozic Pavletic netted 10 against Zaporozhye
  • Nantes left-handers Kiril Lazarov and Branko Vujovic both performed well


MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 30:28 (15:14)

Szeged's Joan Canellas Reixach started the production of scores with a long distance shot in the third minute.

After 10 minutes of playing the distance stablised between a two and three goal lead for the hosts, thanks largely to Mario Sostaric who netted four times.

Towards the end of the first half Flensburg’s defence improved and the teams went for half-time with the score of 15:14.

The home team geared up in the beginning of the second half and increased the margin to five by a spin shot from Sostaric.

In spite of five goals from Magnus Abelvik Röd, the German champions could not come closer and the Hungarian side stayed unbeaten after five rounds.

Flensburg coach Maik Machulla was proud of his team, saying: “We met today a world-class team and it was a great experience for them. We are still young and we need to learn a lot.”

“Flensburg always had an answer but my guys were not afraid to find something new during the match and finally it paid off. I could not be more satisfied as we are still unbeaten,” said Szeged head coach Juan Carlos Pastor.

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 35:27 (17:13)

"Motor is back," declared Zaporozhye coach Barys Pukhouvski after the match.

Zagreb got the better start in the game, leading early by 3:1. But Zaporozhye were quick to take things back in hand, with Zakhar Denysov being the main threat in attack.

Despite being down by three after 15 minutes, the home team turned things around as half-time was in sight. A stronger defence, and especially some saves from Victor Kireev, gave Zaporozhye the opportunities to take the lead.

Scoring five unanswered goals in five minutes, the Ukrainian side was ahead by two at the 20th minute. Not happy with this small gap, they carried on pushing and reached the break with the biggest lead of the game.

Zaporozhye did not slow down after returning from the break. As Zagreb were struggling to find offensive solutions, the home team piled up fast breaks, Maxim Babichev and Barys Pukhouski scoring multiple times to put their team nine goals ahead 15 minutes before the end of the game,

From then on, Zagreb never managed to regain a momentum, despite left-handers Ivan Srsen and Josip Bozic Pavletic having a great day offensively. The last 10 minutes were a walk in the park for Zaporozhye as they cruised to their first victory of the season, 35:27.

"The day came we won. We understood it was one of our last chances to 're-enter the game'. I am sure we will prove that we are not accidentally here, in group B, and show our progress from match to match," said Pukhouvski.

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) 38:27 (17:13)

The home side took control of the game right from the start, being four goals ahead after only six minutes played, thanks to a goal from usually defender-only Rock Feliho.

Celje came back in a the game shortly after. Although they were unable to close the gap they managed to maintain it and not let Nantes run away with the match.

Despite playing without Drasko Nenadic, the back court was finding solutions, with Jaka Malus being the main offensive threat. But lacking defensive consistency, the visitors were still down by four at the break.

Just as they did in some of their previous games, the young Slovenian players lacked energy after the break, giving their opponents the opportunity to make their advantage bigger.

Kiril Lazarov was netting too easily from the distance, while Cyril Dumoulin was on perfect form behind the posts. The advantage grew bigger as time went on, to reach 10 goals after 40 minutes.

Nantes’ coach, Thierry Anti, then took the opportunity to rest some important players. Branko Vujovic, Celje’s right-back, did his best to put his team back in the game, but it was not enough.

Nantes cruised to their second home win this season with a comfortable 11-goal margin. Anti said despite a high number of substitutions during the match, "every player brought something to the team today. It’s exactly what we need to perform this season".

Celje line player Igor Anic said: "We know that every team can beat any other in this group. But it was difficult with limited rotations especially for our young back players. The next goals for us are Zaporozhye and Zagreb at home, then take a few points away."

TEXT: Kevin Domas/Bela Muller/jh