Skjern and Zaporozhye snatch away points, Celje control Zagreb
A draw with Skjern at home on Sunday means that MOL-Pick Szeged now trails Paris Saint-Germain by three points – but after trailing by five goals early in the second half, the result was far from a disaster.
In the other games, Zaporozhye beat Nantes on their home court, getting a first away VELUX EHF Champions League win of the season. However the win has little impact on the rankings, with Zaporozhye and Zagreb tied with five points for seventh place after the latter lost to Celje.
- Nantes have yet to beat Zaporozhye
- Zaporozhye’s Aidenas Malasinskas found the net eight times
- Celje took revenge on Zagreb after losing in Croatia last week
- Kasper Sondergaard scored nine as Skjern drew with Szeged
- Paris are now top of group B, three points ahead of Szeged
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) 23:27 (13:12)
After the first leg, last Sunday, ended on a draw, the second one started in the same fashion, with the two teams playing on the same level.
Despite Nantes taking the lead shortly before the break, thanks to the impressive duo of Nicolas Claire and Kiril Lazarov, their advantage was never greater than three goals.
However Zaporozhye quickly got back into the game and only went back to the dressing room with a one-goal deficit.
After the break, the Ukrainian club proved to be the best on the court. A 3:0 run helped them take the lead and they were never going to let it go.
Nantes did their best to get the upper hand and drew level in the 51st minute, but were unable to hang on.
A strong defence from the visitors meant they only conceded one goal in the last seven minutes of the game while scoring five, helping them get their first away win of the season in the Champions League.
Nantes' coach Thierry Anti was critical of his team's performance.
"We missed freshness and enthusiasm after the break," he said. "Zaporozhye came back to a draw, kept putting pressure on us and beat us. I am terribly disappointed because it’s their second victory in Nantes. We failed in attack, we failed in defence."
RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 30:21 (10:9)
Last week’s game between these two sides was a defensive one and this week’s started in the same fashion, with both defence and goalkeepers proving to be effective.
Despite that, Celje took the first advantage shortly before half-time when Branko Vujovic scored his third goal of the match to put his team ahead by three.
But Urh Kastelic, sensing that it was maybe a crucial time for Zagreb, made a couple of saves. At the break, everything was still to be decided, with Celje only leading 10:9.
What the hosts failed to do in the first half, they did in the second. Remaining as solid on defence, they only conceded 12 goals after the pause while scoring 20.
Zagreb’s technical fouls and turnovers were punished by fast-breaks, with Vujovic proving to be very efficient, scoring seven in total.
A red card for Celje line player Kristian Beciri did not stop his team’s momentum and the hosts took a nine-goal advantage to win 30:21.
MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN) 33:33 (14:15)
Just like last week, Skjern gave Szeged a hard time. Despite a strong start and quickly leading by three, 4:1, the hosts were in trouble containing the Danish side’s attack.
Left-hander Kasper Sondergaard proved to be especially efficient, scoring six in the first half alone. He first helped his team get back into the game and then take the lead on a penalty throw.
Mario Sostaric, usually Szeged’s best scorer, had netted only two and Skjern went back to the dressing room leading by one goal.
Skjern’s domination was confirmed after the break, as Szeged’s defence struggled to keep the visitors silent.
Thanks to another goal by Sondergaard, the visitors even took a five-goal advantage shortly after the break, making them think that they were about to snatch their first away points of the season.
With their fans pushing, Szeged kept fighting. Stefan Sigurmannsson was their main offensive asset, scoring seven. They even managed to turn things around, and were ahead by two with less than two minutes to play.
But Sondergaard and, in the final seconds, Thomas Mogensen, helped Skjern win a deserved point away.
Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor noted that "every game is very hard in the Champions League, if you don't concentrate 100%".
Author: Kevin Domas/jh