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25.09.2016, 20:29◄ last page     

GROUP A REVIEW: A great performance from goalkeeper Corrales is not enough for Plock to beat Barcelona, and Kiel beat PSG by one.

Paris stumble despite 10 Gensheimer goals, Barcelona start with a win

Barcelona took revenge for the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase defeat at Orlen Wisla Plock in 2014 on Sunday, finishing with a five-goal win after a weak start.

Round 1 of Group A concluded with a clash of two titans, with THW Kiel defeating favourites Paris Saint-Germain Handball in a true thriller decided with the final buzzer.

New arrival Valero Rivera Folch had a great international comeback for his hometown team Barcelona, scoring seven goals. Another Spaniard, goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales, stood out for Plock
Coach Piotr Przybecki was defeated in his first international match at the helm of the ‘Oliers’
Kiel avenged three straight defeats in the 2015/16 season against PSG
Five of the six best scorers in the THW versus PSG encounter were new arrivals in their clubs: Uwe Gensheimer (10) and Luka Stepancic (5) for Paris, Lukas Nilsson (5), Raul Santos and Nikola Bilyk (each 4) for Kiel
Like in the 2015/16 last season (32:39 at Flensburg), Paris started the Champions League season with a defeat on German ground

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 23:28 (12:11)

"We expected a very hard game," said Barca coach Xavi Pascual following the match. "To win all games in group phase is almost impossible, so I am very happy that we managed to get two points from Plock. We have a young team and I expect that they will reach their best level in five-six months."

Corrales causes Barca a headache

After this match Paris Saint-Germain know why they sealed the deal so early and signed Rodrigo Corrales for the 2017/18 season in the spring of 2016. 

The Spanish goalkeeper was like a whirlwind in the first half, taming Barcelona with an incredible performance. 

Plock control first half

Combined with their strong and movable defence, Plock shocked the record winner of the EHF Champions League in the first 25 minutes. 

Just as in December 2014 when the ‘Oilers’ defeated the big favourite to win the match, the Polish side claimed the upper hand early in the match. 

After ten minutes the score was 5:2 and at the end of the first quarter the hosts led 8:5, while Barcelona lacked ideas in attack.

But with the break drawing nearer, the Catalan team managed to bridge the gap, and at the break the deficit was only one goal. 

Rivera Junior’s great homecoming

Coach Xavier Pascual seemed to have made a great speech in the locker room, as his team took control and within some minutes were in front at 18:15.

Valero Rivera Junior, who returns to his hometown for the 2016/17 season after playing abroad for several years, was the key in Barca’s counter attacks. 

When the 2013 world champion netted for the fifth time out of a total seven goals to put the score at 19:15 with a penalty shot, Plock’s resistance seemed to be broken.

The frenetic fans in ORLEN Arena still stood as one behind their team, but thanks to their clearly improved efficiency in attack, Barcelona were on the path to a win.

Besides Rivera, Tunisian sniper Wael Jallouz was on a high after the break, scoring six goals overall.

THW Kiel (GER) vs Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) 28:27 (15:15)

In his long career, Uwe Gensheimer had played 12 times at Kiel’s Sparkassen-Arena with Rhein Neckar Löwen – with a weak outcome of one win, one draw and ten defeats.

On Sunday, Gensheimer returned to Kiel with his new club Paris Saint-Germain, and despite ten goals from left wing, he conceded his eleventh individual defeat in the arena.

“Though we started really well, we could not manage to keep control. We offered Kiel too many turnovers, which they turned into counter attack goals. Finally, THW’s young guns and ‘old Zeitz’ decided the match,” said Gensheimer after the thriller in Kiel.

Big praise for the young guns

The start of the match was a true rollercoaster ride for the more than 10,000 fans in the sold-out arena. PSG forged ahead to 4:1, then Kiel scored four in a row in the first ever Champions League match for their newcomers Lukas Nilsson (Sweden), Raul Santos and Nykola Bilyk (both Austria) – all of whom became key figures for Kiel.

“It was outstanding, how cool those 19-year-old guys Bilyk and Nilsson playing against a team like PSG were. Simply incredible,” Kiel coach Alfred Gislason praised his talents, adding: “They have great quality and will have a great future.”

And Bilyk was impressed: “I never played in an atmosphere like this in my whole life, this was pure fun. Though our team is newly composed, we played fantastic.”

Constantly changing lead

On the other team, Gensheimer was on fire. At the break, Paris’ new left wing already had five goals on his tally – and 10 at the end.

“Uwe is the best left wing on earth, I wanted to sign him several times, but he did not want to come to me,” Gislason told Gensheimer with a smile in his face in an interview with German TV station SKY.

The lead changed constantly in contrast with last year’s duel in Kiel, when PSG were the first to take THW’s fortress after four years. Some minutes before the break, the hosts were in lead by two goals for the first time at 14:12, but at the end of the half the score board showed a level result.

Little impact from world-class goalkeepers

In the duel of three of the world’s best handball goalkeepers, Andreas Wolff, Niklas Landin, and Thierry Omeyer did not have a significant impact on the match – and at the start of the second half, Omeyer was replaced by Gorazd Skof and did not return to the court.

Kiel could not cast off the French side and PSG took the lead with 15 minutes left at 21:20 in a combative defensive battle.

Even while at a one-man disadvantage, PSG claimed their first two-goal advantage after the break at 24:22 with less than nine minutes left.

Zeitz decides the match on both sides

But then came Christian Zeitz. After two years at Veszprem, he returned to Kiel and stood strong in defence while hitting the net with hammer shots in attack.

PSG were hardly shaken, but Christian Sprenger scored for 27:26 and Zeitz added another for 28:27 20 seconds before the end.

Kiel were shorthanded in the final seconds and PSG had their last chance with a direct free throw, but again it was Zeitz who blocked Mikkel Hansen’s shot and secured the win for the German team. 

TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg

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