Sporting and Irun deliver a thriller, Sävehof in control after away victoryArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: 10 goals from right back Gzim Salihi helps the Swedish champions maintain their perfect winning record and go clear at the top of the group due to Sporting and Irun drawing in Lisbon

Sporting and Irun deliver a thriller, Sävehof in control after away victory

IK Sävehof made it four wins from four on Saturday evening with another solid defensive display, which never gave the hosts, Tatran Presov, much of a chance in their VELUX EHF Champions League group C clash.
  • Sävehof maintain their perfect record with a fourth consecutive victory of the campaign
  • A 7:1 run early in the first half helped Sävehof race into a commanding lead and they never looked back
  • Bidasoa Irun pegged back by Sporting twice in a pulsating clash in Lisbon
  • Rodrigo Salinas’ eight goals not enough to prevent the Spanish side from dropping their first point of the campaign

Tatran Presov (SVK) vs IK Sävehof (SWE) 23:28 (10:16)
Full of confidence from their unbeaten campaign so far, Sävehof held no fears of an away match in Presov and proved it with a brilliant opening quarter.
With active and smart defending, the Swedish champions created a plethora of fast break opportunities and quickly race into an 11:3 lead.
Presov finally began to find their way into the match and impact the scoreboard on a more regular basis. Sävehof remained on top though, with the likes of right back, Gzim Salihi, scoring with ease which gave Sävehof a 16:10 lead going into the dressing rooms.
A pair of early second-half goals from the Slovakian side brought the deficit down to just four, but William Bogojevic replied with two of his own for Sävehof and from there they held onto a six-goal lead with ease, dictating the pace of attack to frustrate their hosts.
Presov continued to push until the very end, but Salihi was in no mood for a tight finish as he scored Sävehof’s final four goals, bringing his total to 10 and securing a 28:23 victory. 
After the game Sävehof's coach, Kristian Berndtsson knew his team needed to be wary of a potentially dangerous Presov team "We came to Prešov with respect for Tatran who needed to win today to keep their hopes alive in the Champions League. That's why we started strong and built up a lead. However, Tatran fought back and the game was interesting till the end."
Presov coach Slavko Goluža rued his teams missed opportunities during the game stating "We made technical mistakes in the early phase but tried to work our way back into the match. It is a shame we missed out 7m chances and opened shots to make the game more interesting." but did go on to praise his team's heart adding "But congrats to my team for the brave fight and our fans supporting till the very end".
Sporting CP (POR) vs Bidasoa Irun (ESP) 30:30 (16:17)
Both sides went all out in search of goals, sharing 33 in an entertaining first half.
Left-hander Rodrigo Salinas was in splendid form from the opening whistle, scoring four of Irun’s first five goals and helped his side take an early advantage against his former coach Thierry Anti.
The previously unbeaten Spanish side looked the brighter of the two in the opening 20 minutes, extending their lead to five and looking comfortable against the hosts and their vocal fans.
Sporting eventually found their groove, however, and worked their way back into the game with some fine finishes by Pedro Veitia and Frankis Carol to go into the break just one goal down.
Not much changed in the second half as the two teams traded goals and the lead on a number of occasions in what continued to be a pulsating and goal-rich encounter.
It took until the final 10 minutes for a team to grab control of the contest once again and with three quickfire goals from right wing Inaki Cavero, Bidasoa Irun opened up a 29:26 advantage with five minutes left on the clock.
Sporting had time to mount one final comeback, however, and Valentin Ghionea equalised with his seventh goal of the night to keep themselves in the hunt for the top two, while Irun fall one point behind Sävehof atop group C with the sides facing in back-to-back clashes next.
Sporting's coach, Thierry Anti, was critical of his side saying "Congratulations do CD Bidasoa. We didn't start well and made mistakes. CD Bidasoa was in front most of the game. It was hard to comeback".
Bidasoa's coach was slightly more upbeat about the result despite seeing his side give up a draw late in the game. Cuétara said this after the game "It was a really important point for us. We played in the home of the favourite team of the group. Sporting CP is a great team".


TEXT: Chris O'Reilly / JS