Strong defence helps Aalborg take the points against Celje
Coming into the match, Celje had a clear goal - a win would get them a Last 16 ticket, after Elverum and Zagreb lost their games on Saturday. They had a realistic hope of success after losing the first leg 28:29 at home.
But for Aalborg, this confrontation was also important in the race for fourth place. With only two rounds to go, every point will count for the Danish club in their battle with Flensburg.
- after winning the first leg by one goal, Aalborg won the return match against Celje
- as a consequence, the Slovenian club will still have to wait to qualify for the Last 16
- Aalborg’s Mark Marcher and Sebastian Barthold both scored five goals
- Celje’s Kristjan Horzen and Patrik Leban also both netted five times
Aalborg Handbold (DEN) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) 28:24 (13:9)
No goal after 12 minutes, only two scored after 15: the numbers show hard it was for Celje to get past Aalborg’s goalkeeper Kristian Saeveraas at the start of Sunday’s game.
But the hosts did not make the most of it, and never stretched out to a lead of more than five goals. Miljan Vujovic was doing his best to match his opponent and was doing a great job.
It was only on fast breaks that the Danish club really managed to find clear solutions and it was one of them, concluded by Magnus Saugstrup, that allowed them to go back to the dressing room ahead by four (13:9).
The break did some good for Celje, which appeared to finally have solved their offensive issues. Kristjan Horzen was elemental in this success, scoring five goals in total.
Aalborg, on the other hand, were slowing down the rhythm and with Celje scoring, had no possibilities for fast breaks. As a consequence, Celje were back within one goal with seven minutes left to play.
But Saeveraas was again key for his team, saving a couple of shots in the money-time while, at the other end, Janus Smarason did what was needed to keep his team ahead on the scoreboard. Two goals in a row by Mark Marcher and Ómar Magnusson sealed the deal, Aalborg finally winning by four (28:24).
Aalborg coach Stefan Madsen said afterwards: "Celje played a good and smart match, and they made it difficult for us. We had the opportunity to pull away in the first half, but too many mistakes prevented that.
"Now a couple of exciting and difficult matches are waiting for us in our hunt to secure fourth place," Madsen added.Author: Kevin Domas / jh