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08.10.2016, 20:38◄ last page     

GROUP B REVIEW: Meshkov Brest upset Rhein-Neckar Löwen for their first points of the season, while Kristianstad also earned their first points by defeating Zagreb

Meshkov shock Löwen, Kristianstad take big win

Meshkov Brest finally bagged their first points of the VELUX EHF Champions League season at the cost of Rhein-Neckar Löwen (30:28). Kristianstad followed shortly after with a huge win over Zagreb (29:22).

  • Brest take their first win of the season as they beat the German champions against all odds.

  • Despite the defeat, Kim Ekdahl shines with 11 goals for Löwen in the second half.

  • Kristianstad earn their biggest win in the competition.

  • Lagergren finished with a game-high nine goals for the Swedish side.

Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 30:28 (17:12)

Meshkov Brest claimed their first win of the season after beating the favourites Rhein-Neckar Löwen 30:28 on home court.

Line player Rastko Stojkovic delivered another superb performance to help his team take two well- deserved points.

There were talks about Meshkov backs not being at their best in the opening matches of the season. Today, they proved their critics wrong.

Dainis Kristopans, the tallest handball player in the competition with 213 cm, netted seven, whilst left back Pavel Atman added four from the left back court.

To score 11 goals in a Champions League match is a notable achievement. But to score all 11 in less than 30 minutes, like Kim Ekdahl did, is just outstanding.

However, even the showdown from the Swedish left back was not enough for the Löwen to take points off Brest.

Against all odds

Meshkov Brest may have been underdogs in today’s clash, but they proved they can compete with the best. At home, the support of their enthusiastic fans make them even stronger.

Said after the game:

Nikolaj Jacobsen, Rhein-Neckar Löwen coach: "We played better in the second half, and in the middle of it we could come closer but did not use our chance. At the end of the game, Brest was obviously stronger."

Alexander Petersson, Rhein-Neckar Löwen right back: "Meshkov Brest showed that they also can play well. This team has the right to play among the elite teams."

Sergey Bebeshko, Meshkov Brest coach: "Today we  played well against the German champion. We played 5-1 from the start and it worked. Meshkov Brest are happy to win against such a strong team."

Pavel Atman, Meshkov Brest left back: "We fought until the end and played our own game. I am happy to take two points against the German champion."

IF Kristianstad (SWE) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 29:22 (13:10)

IF Kristianstad celebrated their biggest VELUX EHF Champions League win with an emphatic performance against an injury-hit Zagreb, whose lacklustre performance left their coach Veselin Vujovic fuming after the final whistle.

It was the season’s first European victory for the Swedish side, who now have two points from three games while Zagreb are rooted to the bottom of the section after three successive defeats.

Goalkeepers at their best

The opening 10 minutes produced a string of superb saves by both goalkeepers, IFK’s Nebojsa Simic and Zagreb’s Ivan Stevanovic, with the home side carving out a 3:1 lead.

The floodgates then opened as Zagreb cancelled out a three-goal deficit (4:1) to draw level at 5:5, with left back Stipe Mandalinic firing on all cylinders as he netted four successive goals from as many shots.

However, that was as good as it got for Mandalinic and Zagreb, as Kristianstad scored five unanswered goals and never looked back.

The potent attack of Albin Lagergren, Tim Sorensen and Jerry Tollbring picked the visitors apart with a flurry of fast breaks and fizzing perimeter shots, supported by a strong defence.

Having carried a three-goal half-time lead into the dressing room, the home side came out roaring in the second half and the writing was on the wall for Zagreb after a 7:3 run extended Kristianstad’s lead to 23:16.

The Croatian team, missing several key players through injury, paid a heavy price for indisciplined defending which also cost them a series of two-minute expulsions.

Mandalinic stifled

IFK took full advantage and wrapped up their victory as Lagergren finished with a game-high nine goals, with Tollbring and Sorensen adding six each.

Icelander Olafur Gudmundsson chipped in with five goals from as many shots for the hosts, who will head into the rest of the group phase with beaming confidence after an inspired home-court performance.

Mandalinic faded out after his brief one-man show early on, amassing five goals for Zagreb after netting just one in the second half.

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik & Zoran Milosavljevic / ew

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