|17.11.2016, 21:50||◄ last page|
GROUP B REVIEW: HC Vardar stayed top of the group with an impressive away win over Rhein-Neckar Löwen thanks to a blistering performance by Joan Canellas
Lions succumb to mighty Vardar as Canellas shines
Macedonian giants HC Vardar celebrated their fourth win in five meetings with Rhein-Neckar Löwen, after superb displays by Joan Canellas and Luka Cindric kept them top of the section at the halfway mark of the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase.
HC Vardar produced arguably their most mature performance of the season in Europe’s top flight, confirming their rich vein of form with a resounding away win over Rhein-Neckar Löwen which kept them on course for an automatic last-eight berth.
The outcome left Vardar top of the group with 12 points from seven games, as they followed up on the previous round’s 40:34 home win over holders KS Vive Tauron Kielce with another commanding display.
The opening exchange of goals made it clear it would be a high-scoring contest and Vardar wasted no time in carving out a 9:5 lead on the back Luka Cindric’s superior individual skills.
The Croatian playmaker dished out passes like confetti, while he also kept piercing through the home team’s ranks to score after dazzling solo runs past Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s defence.
The visitors benefited from a flurry of fast breaks, but Löwen got back into the match and briefly led 16:15 in the closing stages of the first half, as their own transition of the ball became quicker and more effective.
However, Vardar had the final say in the opening period as they scored two unanswered goals to reclaim the lead on the stroke half-time and never looked back.
Often used a decoy and provider to create space for his teammates for club and country, Spaniard Joan Canellas fired on all cylinders as the leading scorer this time and the home side had no reply for his flurry of nine-metre thunderbolts.
With Russian winger Timur Dibirov also joining the scoring party, Vardar romped away into a 22:17 lead and the match was effectively over as a contest after it soared to 27:20 midway through a lop-sided second half.
A rout was on the cards after several fine saves by goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik allowed the visitors to carve out a 30:21 advantage, before Rhein-Neckar Löwen salvaged some pride with a late rally.
The outstanding Canellas rifled in a game-high 10 goals for Vardar, as livewire Cindric added seven.
Evergreen Icelandic winger Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson netted seven goals for the home side but only one of them in the second half, while his compatriot Alexander Petersson chipped in with six
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / bc