No winner in Zaporozhye thriller
Reaching the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 for the third time was already quite an achievement for HC Motor Zaporozhye, but on home court, the in-form Ukrainian champions hoped to upset the injury-ridden PGE Vive Kielce.
A 33:33 draw is a decent result for Motor, yet the Polish side seem to have a better chance for the quarter-final spot before the second leg in Kielce next Saturday.
- This was Motor’s first draw in the Last 16 after losing four previous matches
- Kozakevych was Motor’s top scorer with nine goals
- Alex Dujshebaev and Luka Cindric scored eight goals each for Kielce
LAST 16, FIRST LEG
HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs PGE Vive Kielce (POL) 33:33 (16:16)
Supported by their home crowd, Motor pulled ahead 3:1, but it did not take long for Kielce to grab the initiative and take a 9:7 lead midway through the first half.
The visitors, who were missing injured players Krzysztof Lijewski, Michal Jurecki and Daniel Dujshebaev, were more efficient in attack, with Luka Cindric having a particular impact with five goals before the break.
Kielce did their best to stop Zaporozhye’s leaders Barys Pukhouski and Aidenas Malasinskas, who missed most of their attempts in the first half.
However, Motor fought hard - Artem Kozakevych did well in attack, and the competition’s second-best scorer Pukhouski woke up before the break, spectacularly scoring his first goal in the 27th minute and drawing level at 16:16 just before the half-time buzzer.
Much of the second hand followed the same scenario, with the Ukrainian club typically pulling in front by one goal, and the visitors drawing level in the next attack. While Pukhouski and Malasinskas improved their shot efficiency for Motor, it was Alex Dujshebaev who came to the fore for Kielce.
A minute from full-time, the rivals were still level at 32:32, and the suspense in the arena reached its maximum level. Mateusz Jachlewski scored for Kielce, but in their last attack, Zaporozhye earned a penalty shot, and Kozakevych scored after the buzzer to seal a hard-fought draw.
Kielce head coach Talant Dujshebaev said the match had been good.
“Although we have not won, we have a little advantage before the home game. We need to win only with one goal advantage in order to proceed to the next round,” he said.
Motor right back Pawel Paczkowski added: “We played against one of the best European handball teams. We did it quite well, but it was not enough for the victory. Kielce has been the favourite in this game, and this status will be the same in the return game.”
Author: Sergey Nikolaev/jh