GROUP C REVIEW: Chekhovskie Medvedi forced HC Metalurg into submission for their first VELUX EHF Champions League win of the season after drawing their two opening games.
Russian bears subdue brave Metalurg
Russian giants Chekhovskie Medvedi celebrated their first VELUX EHF Champions League win of the season after beating Macedonian rivals HC Metalurg 25:21 thanks to a blistering last 10 minutes.
The visitors had threatened to cause an upset before the home side hit top gear in the final stretch to boost their hopes of reaching the last 16.
Medvedi came out top 25:21 eventually in a rollercoaster game
Metalurg bounced back from a seven-goal deficit
The home side forced the final twist in the last 10 minutes
11 Medvedi players scored, while Nemanja Obradovic stood out for Metalurg with a game-high eight goals
Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs HC Metalurg (MKD) 25:21 (14:8)
Russia’s standout team enjoyed their third win in as many meetings with FYR Macedonia’s HC Metalurg after they produced a strong finish in a roller-coaster match, with both sides playing in fits and starts.
Having twice blown away Metalurg exactly 10 years ago in the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition, Medvedi appeared set to do the same when they carved out a massive 10:4 lead midway through the first half.
Lapses in concentration
The home side were unable to fire on all cylinders throughout the rest of the half as they lost their focus allowing Metalurg to come back into contention, with the Macedonians slashing the gap to 11:8.
But the side from Skopje suffered their own lapse in concentration and Medvedi took a resounding 14:8 half-time lead into the changing room.
The Russian outfit were making the most of their agile and more athletic roster, finding room to operate on either wing, while goalkeeper Oleg Grams made a string of good saves which frustrated Metalurg, who could not find any consistency in attack.
The game seemed to be over as a contest when Medvedi scored the opening goal of the second half, giving them a seemingly insurmountable seven-goal advantage (15:8).
But what happened next came as a shock to the home fans and players, as Metalurg swiftly clawed their way back into the game.
They scored five unanswered goals, reducing the arrears to 15:13, and then found another gear to turn the match on its head when they went ahead 18:17 – a 10:3 goalscoring run in their favour after the break.
At this stage of the match, Metalurg’s pair of Nemanja’s; Obradovic and Mladenovic, were unstoppable, while Medvedi seemed to be hitting a wall at the other end every time they had an attempt at goal.
But the depth and quality of the Russian squad prevailed as Medvedi roared back in the last 10 minutes to force the final twist in a frantic climax.
The visitors simply ran out of steam in the home straight and it cost them dearly, with the home team scoring a barrage of easy goals from fast breaks and set plays. Metalurg committed too many turnovers at crunch times and the home side needed no second invitation to seal their first VELUX EHF Champions League win of the season, after drawing their opening two games (both 28:28).
Dmitriy Kornev and Dmitry Shelestyukov netted four goals apiece, leading a pack of 11 different Medvedi scorers, while Obradovic stood out for Metalurg sinking home a game-high eight goals.
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic/amc