|12.02.2017, 11:20||◄ last page|
GROUP B REVIEW: After a five-goal win over Zagreb, Vardar join Group B leaders Kielce on 14 points each, while Celje suffer a last-second home defeat against Kristianstad.
Vardar beat Zagreb to share Group B lead with Kielce
Vardar have started 2017 with a superb result by defeating Zagreb. Right after Silvio Ivandija was appointed as a new head coach, Zagreb were the team that stopped Vardar's winning series in the MOTW of Round 5 (28:27). This time, Vardar lived up to the expectations of the home fans and secured two points, 25:20.
Elsewehere, Celje lost on a last-minute penalty to Kristianstad, 27:28.
HC Vardar (MKD) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 25:20 (14:8)
The absence of Luka Shebetic, Darko Cingesar and Lovro Jotic in the guests’ roster allowed the home team an explosive start and a 5:0 lead in the opening minutes.
The Macedonian champions, thanks to stunning saves of Arpad Sterbik and the great goal efficiency of Alex Dujshebaev, secured a comfortable margin of six goals in the last 10 minutes of the first half.
The home side’s defence worked well, while on the other side Zagreb made 13 technical mistakes and had only 28% attack efficiency.
Nothing changed at the start of the second half as Zagreb struggled in attack, enabling the home side to strengthen their lead.
With several mistakes in the middle of the second half, Vardar lost their high tempo but Silvio Ivandija’s squad were not able to capitalize on the opponents’ mistakes.
Under standing ovations from the stands, Vardar wrapped up their 25:20 victory to join defending champions Kielce on 14 points at the top of the table. Kielce lost to Rhein-Neckar Löwen 28:25 on Thursday.
Raul Gonzalez, Vardar coach: “In the first half we played strong and we made the difference in the match. Our goalkeeper was also on high level and we used the counter attack to make the six-goal gap.”
Alex Dujsebaev, Vardar right back: “In the last minutes of the match we had problems when Zagreb started playing 7-6 in offence and this lead to us making mistakes. In the end we are lucky that we won two points.”
Silvio Ivandija, Zagreb coach: “We did not open the match as we planned and our backcourt line did not work well, which brought our opponent to a solid goal margin. In the second half we were equal, but we did not increase the level of our game.”
Luka Mrakovcic, Zagreb centre back: “In the second half we tried to close the gap but we were not lucky in some moments and we only managed to reduce the difference to four goals.”
RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko vs IFK Kristianstad 27:28 (13:13)
Sometimes a handball match takes much more than 60 minutes - even without extra time. The drama and thriller in Celje was a match like this, with long discussions before the match finally came to an end.
With only three seconds to play, Kristianstad were in ball possession, running towards Celje’s goal. Youngster Blaz Janc stopped the attack with a foul in the very last second - and due to the new rules, the consequence was a red card for Janc and a penalty for Kristianstad.
World Championship All Star wing Jerry Tollbring remained as cold as ice, passed Celje goalkeeper Urban Lesjak, and all his team mates jumped for joy, leaving Celje in a state of shock.
Thanks to their first away victory in this Champions League season, the Swedish champions passed Celje to take over the crucial sixth position now.
Despite being best scorer by eight goals, Janc was completely disappointed after the final buzzer. His side had been dominant in the first half but could not benefit from the huge number of technical mistakes caused by Kristianstad.
The second half was like a roller coaster ride, and backed by 12 saves of goalkeeper Nebojša Simić, Kristianstad took the lead.
But Celje fought back, equalized at 25:25 and 27:27, before Kristianstad were the lucky winners of a night to remember. The first leg in Sweden had already ended in a thrilling 29:29 draw.
Tollbring and Tim Sörensen were Kristianstad’s top scorer with seven goals each.
Ola Lindgren, Kristianstad coach: “Especially in the first half we made too many mistakes - but so did Celje. We were lucky enough at the end to win both points, but also Celje would deserve one.”
Branko Tamše, Celje coach: “We made too many mistakes but did not surrender and we fought till the end. A point for everyone would be the fairest result.”
TEXT: Amina Idrizi & Björn Pazen / ew