|30.03.2017, 22:13||◄ last page|
LAST 16 MATCH REVIEW: THW Kiel overturned a one-goal first leg deficit to beat Rhein-Neckar Löwen 50:49 on aggregate, booking them a quarter-final clash with Barcelona.
Kiel bounce back against Löwen to reach quarter-final
Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s home court curse in the VELUX EHF Champions League knockout stage continues into a third successive season, as a 26:24 home defeat by THW Kiel knocked them out of Europe’s top flight competition.
Kiel will lock horns with FC Barcelona Lassa for a VELUX EHF FINAL4 berth after coming out on top 50:49 on aggregate in a fascinating all-German clash. Kiel recalled their glory days with a gritty performance in Mannheim.
LAST 16, SECOND LEG:
Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs THW Kiel (GER) 24:26 (12:12)
Three time VELUX EHF Champions League winners THW Kiel had a majestic performance which propelled them to a 26:24 win against rivals Rhein-Neckar Löwen.
This result means that Kiel squeeze into Europe’s top flight competition quarter-final 50:49 on aggregate, having overturned a 25:24 first-leg deficit in an absorbing all-German clash.
Bundesliga champions Löwen will ruefully look back at spilling a seven-goal advantage (19:12) in the first leg of the titanic tussle, allowing Kiel to claw their way back into the contest and give themselves a fighting chance of turning the tables in Mannheim.
That is exactly what the visitors did, as they kept their cool in a dramatic contest decided by several key saves from Kiel’s Danish goalkeeper Niclas Landin in the closing stages.
Fast and furious start
With influential playmaker Domagoj Duvnjak shaking off a knee injury to take his place in Kiel’s roster, the visitors raced into a 3:0 lead against a bedazzled Löwen side in the opening five minutes.
However, Kiel took a blow when their Danish line player Rene Toft Hansen was shown a straight red card for a flagrant foul. The tide turned as the home side took full advantage.
Driven by Icelandic winger Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, Rhein-Neckar Löwen erased the deficit and jumped into the driving seat as they took a 10:8 lead in the closing stages of the first half.
Both teams played physical and deep defence, garnished by crunching tackles which made flowing attacks difficult at both ends of the court.
Having fallen behind three goals on aggregate, Kiel found new energy to draw level at the interval and leave the tie in the balance.
With the game played at breathtaking speed, Löwen again carved out a two-goal advantage (18:16) in the early stages of the second half as the relentless pace appeared to take its toll on Kiel’s injury-hit side.
It seemed the visitors would run out of steam as Swede Kim Ekhdal Du Rietz started to fire on all cylinders for Löwen, netting one spectacular long-range effort after another to keep his team in front.
On top of all that, Kiel just could not score from the seven-metre line as they missed all four penalties – courtesy of some fine goalkeeping by Andreas Palicka.
But Kiel showed all their might and resilience, rooted in the club’s die-hard title winning tradition, as backs Marko Vujin and Nikola Bilyk rifled in a barrage of sublime goals which forced the final twist.
Icing on the cake
With Landin brushing off the home team’s shots, Vujin tied the overall score when he gave Kiel a 25:24 lead and veteran Patrick Wiencek put the icing on the cake with the game’s final goal which threw the visiting bench into raptures.
Löwen failed to score on their final two attacks. Having been eliminated, they can now focus on defending their German league title in a three-way battle with leaders Flensburg and second-placed Kiel.
Vujin and Bilyk led the Zebras with five goals each, Wiencek added four while Duvnjak, Lukas Nilsson and Steffen Weinhold netted three apiece, underlining Kiel’s balanced attack.
Ekdahl Du Rietz scored a game-high six goals for Rhein-Neckar Löwen but crucially missed his last two shots, while Alexander Petersson and Sigurdsson – who had a quiet second half – chipped in with five each.
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic/kc