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19.11.2016, 20:52◄ last page     

GROUP B REVIEW: MOL-Pick Szeged celebrated an emphatic win in Sweden after superb performances by playmaker Sergei Gorbok and goalkeeper Marin Sego, while Celje's right back scored a game-tying goal in Brest 73 seconds before the final buzzer.

Mlakar saves point for Сelje, while Gorbok leads Szeged to a win in Sweden

MOL-Pick Szeged demonstrated their vast potential this season after an impeccable performance gave them a massive 29:21 win at IFK Kristianstad, who face an uphill battle to secure a knockout stage berth. In the earlier match on Saturday Celje Ziga Mlakar scored a game-tying goal in the penultimate minute to lead his team to a 29:29 draw at Brest.

• HC Meshkov Brest and Celje Pivovarna Lasko met for the first time in the VELUX EHF Champions League
• It was the first Brest’s draw in the current season
• Brest’s Rastko Stojkovic was the top scorer of the match with eight goals; Luka Zvizej led Сelje with seven

Szeged overrun Kristianstad thanks to excellent displays by Gorbok and Sego
• The Hungarian side stay in touch with the group’s leaders one round before the mid-season break


HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) 29:29 (14:15)

Following their good run – three victories in four games – HC Meshkov Brest were considered favourites at home against Celje Pivovarna Lasko. But in reality, they managed to grab just one point in an exciting and emotional game.

Close game from first minutes

The first half was very close, with no team being able to create more than a one-goal advantage before Rastko Stojkovic made the score 8:6 after 17 minutes.

The Celje head coach Branko Tamse asked for a timeout, and his instructions started to help soon as the visitors made an impressive comeback from 6:9 to 11:9 within just a few minutes.

Shortly afterwards, the opponents switched their roles, and it was time for Brest to turn the tides and get in front 14:12. Yet Celje players were determined to finish the half in a good mood, and they did so by coming back once again 15:14.

Mijatovic made good saves

The see-saw scenario have not changed after the break. The Slovenian side did not want to let the initiative out of their hands, and they were in two- or three-goal lead for nearly fifteen minutes.

Brest’s head coach Sergiy Bebeshko rotated his line-up, but his team could not stop Celje’s leaders Blaz Janc and Luka Zvizej, while the home team's leaders Dainis Kristopans and Pavel Atman struggled.

Yet the goalkeeper Rade Mijatovic made a few great saves, and it helped Brest to turn the game. Midway through the half, Dzmitry Nikulenkau drew level at 23:23, and a couple of minutes later Iman Jamali put the hosts in lead 25:24.

Celje weathered the storm

Soon Brest created a three-goal lead (27:24), yet the brave Celje weathered the storm once again. The game was nervous, and a number of Brest players got two-minute suspensions, which was beneficial for their opponents as Ziga Mlakar equalised for the final 29:29 draw.

Actually, the visitors found the net once again, but it happened a few seconds after the final whistle, and the goal was disallowed.

Post-match statements:

Sergey Bebeshko, head coach of Brest: "We were favourites before the game but actually Celje are yet to show a weak game in the Champions League this season. They always fight until the end as they did tonight. Our attack was not so good, but we managed to lead in the second half and were close to the victory. I think the draw is a fair result.
Luka Zvizej, captain of Celje: "We knew that Meshkov Brest are a strong team but we fought throughout the whole game and had a chance to win in the last attack. We failed to win, nevertheless we are happy also with one point."

IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) 21:29 (12:15)

MOL-Pick Szeged celebrated an emphatic win in Sweden after superb performances by playmaker Sergei Gorbok and goalkeeper Marin Sego propelled the Hungarian side against IFK Kristianstad in a lopsided contest on Saturday.

Russian back Gorbok led Szeged with a game-high seven goals, while Croatia’s Sego pulled off a string of stunning saves which frustrated the home side.

Flurry of fast breaks

Kristianstad made a bright start and led 2:1 early on, but their game-plan evaporated after the visitors turned the tide to take a 5:3 advantage as they got into their stride.

Turnovers by the home side presented Szeged with a barrage of fast breaks, ruthlessly converted by an array of scorers who had all the time and space in the world to operate.

Back-court maestros Zsolt Balogh and Gorbok were also unstoppable at the nine-metre line, where they unleashed thunderbolts into the back of the net and dished out assists to their team mates.

That allowed Szeged to romp ahead 11:5 before an IFK time-out stabilised the home side, who slashed the deficit to three goals by half-time after Olafur Gudmundsson scored on the buzzer.

The Icelander galvanised the home crowd with a ferocious shot past the wall, which left Szeged goalkeeper Marin Sego rooted to the spot.

Fierce Szeged onslaught    

Passionate Kristianstad fans must have hoped that Gudmundsson’s breathtaking goal would instigate a spectacular comeback in the second half, but they had another thing coming.

The home team were still in touch early in the second half when they trailed 14:17, but it was one-way traffic from there on as Gorbok pulled the strings in attack while Sego made one acrobatic save after another at the other end of the court.

A 5:0 run which gave Szeged a whopping 27:18 lead in the closing stages meant lights out for Kristianstad, as the floodgates opened in their half while they seemed to be shooting at a wall when they had possession.

Balogh and Bence Banhidi capped fine individual performances with five goals each for Szeged, turning out to be the perfect support cast for the irrepressible Gorbok, while Gudmundsson also netted five to lead a disjointed Kristianstad team.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev, Zoran Milosavljevic / br

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