|12.10.2016, 20:46||◄ last page|
GROUP B REVIEW: German champions Rhein-Neckar Löwen held on for a slender win against underdogs IFK Kristianstad after nearly spilling a six-goal lead in the closing stages of their match against the determined Swedish side.
Lions scrape hard-fought win against IFK
RNL eked out an unconvincing 30:29 win against IFK after a lacklustre display in the last 10 minutes almost allowed the visitors to snatch a point in Frankfurt.
The result left the German title holders in the top half of the section while lowly Kristianstad have two points from four games.
Rhein-Neckar Lowen (GER) vs IF Kristianstad (SWE) 30:29 (17:13)
The Bundesliga giants laboured to a barely deserved win against their less fancied rivals from Sweden, having relaxed too early after maintaining a seemingly comfortable advantage throughout the second half.
With IFK cutting a 28:22 deficit to a mere 30:29 in the final minute, RNL kept possession in the last 30 seconds of the game without a shot on goal, after the visitors had staged a spirited comeback.
Buoyed by their 29:22 win over Zagreb in the previous round, IFK felt they had nothing to lose against Mannheim’s Lions and their approach paid handsome dividends in the early stages.
Led by prolific Icelander Olafur Gudmundsson, the visitors carved out a 7:5 lead but towering centre back Mads Mensah Larsen, making a return to action after a long-term injury, shone at the other end.
Larsen scored three of his team’s opening four goals and his fourth gave RNL a 10:9 lead, their first of the game.
Larsen then made way for Harald Reinkind and the Norwegian picked up the mantle in style, as the home side extended their advantage to 17:13 at the halftime interval.
The second period had a seemingly predictable pattern until the last 10 minutes of the game, as RNL stayed in control without having to run at full throttle.
RNL suffered too many two-minute expulsions and allowed the hosts to stay in the driving seat as the German outfit engineered a six-goal cushion (28:22) heading into the home straight.
However, sloppy defending in the last 10 minutes allowed IFK to close the gap to 28:26 and then force a dramatic finish after slashing the deficit to 30:29 in the final minute.
RNL were allowed to keep possession without a shot at goal in the last 30 seconds, much to the dismay of the visiting bench who felt IFK should have been given a chance to force a share of the spoils.
The unstoppable Andre Schmid led RNL with a game-high eight goals while Reinkind added five from 11 shots for the home side.
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / sc