|15.10.2016, 22:20||◄ last page|
GROUP B REVIEW: Title holders KS Vive Tauron Kielce stretched their perfect start in the VELUX EHF Champions League to four wins, and Meshkov earned a useful win in Croatia.
Rampant Kielce stay in driving seat, useful win for Meshkov
Kielce had a fine performance on home court that gave them a comfortable win over RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (31:23), while Meshkov Brest celebrated a fully deserved 22:27 win at HC PPD Zagreb.
The defending European club champions marched on to their fourth straight win in the continent’s top flight, after an outstanding second half ground down the resistance of Slovenian rivals Celje Pivovarna Lasko on Saturday.
The visitors held their own in the first half, having carved out a two-goal lead several times in the opening stages, before a late surge by Kielce turned the tide.
Led by the seemingly ageless Karol Bielecki, Kielce turned an 11:10 deficit into a 15:13 advantage and never looked back after taking a slender one-goal lead (16:15) into the dressing room at half-time.
The home side’s defence looked porous in the opening period but they did just enough in attack to nose ahead, propelled by another fine display from their Croatian goalkeeper Filip Ivic.
Celje stifled out in the second half
The visitors stayed in touch in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, but the match was effectively over as a contest after four unanswered goals gave Kielce a massive six-goal lead (24:18).
The Polish side’s Serbian acquisition, Darko Djukic, who joined Kielce from Turkish side Besiktas during the off-season, took over from Bielecki.
The rest of the pack followed and the goals started coming in from all directions, as line player Juan Aguinagalde and winger Manuel Strlek also found plenty of room.
With Ivic making several spectacular saves to deny out clear-cut sitters, Kielce profited from a flurry of fast breaks which kept Celje on the back foot and chasing shadows as the gap kept increasing.
Bielecki and Djukic finished with five goals each for Kielce, Aguinagalde and Strlek both added four, while Tobias Reichmann, Krzysztof Lijewski and playmaker Dean Bombac chipped in with three each.
Blaz Janc led Celje with a game-high seven goals and Ziga Mlakar added five.
HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Meshkov Brest (BLR) 22:27 (10:14)
Injury-hit as they are, Zagreb also have been sorely missing their former goalkeeper Filip Ivic, who moved to defending champions Kielce.
Veselin Vujovic’s outfit have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the knockout stage of Europe’s premier club competition, as Meshkov ruthlessly exposed all of the Croatian side’s weaknesses in a bruising encounter.
The visitors had the upper hand from the start and their towering Latvian back, Dairis Kristopans, tormented Zagreb with a barrage of unstoppable long-range shots.
With his team 12:6 down in the latter stages of the first half, Zagreb coach Veselin Vujovic called a time-out and scorned his players for showing lack of guile and aggression at both ends of the court.
His remarks sparked a brief comeback by Zagreb, who scored three unanswered goals and gave themselves a fighting chance of turning around their fortunes in the second half.
Meshkov prevail in physical battle
Zagreb’s Tin Kontrec and Meshkov’s Maxim Babichev earned straight red cards for overzealous reactions on the court and the physical battle, with both teams earning a series of two-minute suspensions, spilled over into the second period.
Winger Zlatko Horvat led Zagreb’s fightback but once he ran out of steam, the home team simply fell apart in the closing stages as the visitors raced into a 26:19 lead.
With Kristopans creating space for his team mates, Pavel Atman and Dzmitry Nikulenkau thrived in front of Zagreb’s goal while Meshkov’s goalkeeper Ivan Pesic thwarted his Croatian compatriots time and again at the other end.
Meshkov thus earned two valuable points in their quest to reach the Last 16, while Zagreb’s ongoing woes will give the club’s management food for thought how to overcome the crisis and get back to winning ways.
Kristopans led the visitors with seven goals, while Atman and Nikulenkau added five each. Horvat topped Zagreb’s scoring chart with six goals and their Slovenian back David Miklavcic netted four.
Veselin Vujovic, PPD Zagreb coach: “Meshkov were dominating the match from the very beginning, they were better in all aspects of the game. I believe they are the best team we've faced so far this season as they were able to punish all our mistakes.”
Sergej Bebeshko, Meshkov Brest coach: “A good and fair match despite of the two blue cards, which were a result of emotions and tension. We have more quality players than Zagreb at the moment and I believe that was the reason for our victory.”
David Miklavcic, PPD Zagreb right back: “Our problem is that we are not able to play good in both attack and defence for a period of 20 minutes. It is not easy to play this way, looking to catch the opponent all the time as it can be quite mentally exhausting.”
Ljubo Vukic, Meshkov Brest left wing: “It is a well-deserved win for us. We have managed to keep the whole roster, reinforce a bit additionally and I believe we are a better team than Zagreb at the moment. Today we managed to avoid some mistakes we usually make.”
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / ew