|26.11.2016, 20:50||◄ last page|
GROUP B REVIEW: Vardar suffered their first home defeat of the season as Löwen took revenge for their 33:27 drubbing last week, and Szeged overcame a shaky phase to beat Kristianstad by five goals.
Löwen avenge painful home loss; Szeged take clear win
While their season was not seriously derailed by the loss against Vardar last week, Rhein-Neckar Löwen were still glad to take both points against the Group B leaders this time with a 29:26 away win.
In the other game on Saturday, Szeged overcame a seond-half scare against Kristianstad before taking a clear 33:28 win.
HC Vardar (MKD) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 26:29 (15:15)
Löwen were set to make a statement in a packed Jane Sandanski Arena, a place where Vardar eased past their opponents this season while scoring at a blistering pace.
However, the Macedonian side had no answer for their counterparts in the second half. They scored only four goals in the first 18 minutes as Nikolaj Jacobsen’s team jumped to a six-goal lead.
A sluggish start of the game underlined Löwen’s desire to slow Vardar’s blistering attack, the best in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
But after they scored only one goal in almost six minutes, Vardar became almost impossible to contain and the teams were tied at 9 goals each after only 15 minutes.
Composed Löwen cancel the deficit
As the minutes passed, Vardar continued to rely heavily on their back line, with Vuko Borozan and Alex Dujshebaev impressing at each shot.
The hosts took a 13:11 lead close to half-time, leaving behind the volatile first part of the game with seven lead changes.
A well-taken timeout from Nikolaj Jacobsen had the expected effect for his side, which calmed down, executed a perfect defence and were more composed in attack as they leveled at 15:15 before half-time.
Vardar’s disappeared attacking prowess
Taking a page from their opponents’ playbook, the Lions blitzed in the second half. They took a three-goal lead (20:17).
It was an offensive collapse for Vardar in the second half, with the previous excellent Macedonian side scoring only four goals in the first 18 minutes.
Löwen took full advantage to jump to a 26:20 lead, thanks to Larsen and Reinking, two powerful backs that left Vardar dumbfounded.
As the time wounded down, Vardar attempted to mount an impossible comeback and ultimately fell short despite Borozan’s efforts, who scored three times in the last seven minutes.
Nikolaj Jacobsen, Rhein-Neckar Löwen coach: "Usually when two top teams with similar quality play against each other, the decisive factor is the goalkeeper. In our last game in Germany the key player was Sterbik, and today it was our goalie Mikael Appelgreen. He had a fantastic game."
Marius Steinhauser, Rhein-Neckar Löwen right wing: "It was a very good and very tough game against a high-level team. As my coach said, our goalkeeper had a brilliant game and we also played solid in defence, especially in the second half."
Raul Gonzalez, HC Vardar coach: "They played the whole game with an extra player in attack, which we couldn’t find an answer. This is obviously something that we have to prepare for in future games, to play against a 7-6 attack."
Stojance Stoilov, HC Vardar line player: "We simply couldn’t find a solution how to compete against their extra player. This is all about handball, if you are not able to use your opportunities, you have to pay for it."
MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 33:28 (20:17)
Pick Szeged earned their second clear win against Kristianstad within a week. But after their 29:21 win in Sweden last weekend, the current number two in the Hungarian league had to work harder this time.
Kristianstad actually reduced the distance to just one goal in the second half before Szeged were able to increase their lead again towards the finish.
Szeged dominating in high-scoring first half
Szeged soon took the initiative in a high-scoring first half after Kristianstad had been leading by one goal a few times.
A 4:3 lead for the visitors was soon changed into 12:7 for Szeged, who was on a five-goal lead a couple of times during the first half.
Kristianstad had more success in containing Sergei Gorbok this time than they were in the first match, when the Russian international scored seven goals. This time he needed 10 attempts to score five goals.
Instead, the line players took over by Szeged.
Bence Banhidi opened by scoring his team’s first three goals. Later Slovenian pivot Matej Gaber took over and scored six goals from just as many attempt in the match, while Banhidi followed him fine with five goals on five shots from the line.
Kristianstad coming close
Yet, the two efficient line players could not prevent Kristianstad from coming close in the second half.
After Szeged had been six goals up at 24:18, their attacking play came more or less to a stand-still for a while.
The visitors benefitted and, with 13 minutes left, line player Mario Lipovac made it 26:25.
Kristianstad were even attacking for the equaliser before Szeged finally took another clear lead.
Juan Carlos Pastor, Szeged coach: "It is very difficult to win against the same team twice in one week. The Swedish team played good handball, and used our mistakes to come back into the match. But we showed strength to win the match."
Marin Sego, Szeged goalkeeper: "I am very happy that my team showed strength when Kristianstad came to one goal, and that we were able win the match."
TEXT: Adrian Costeiu, Peter Bruun / ew