|23.04.2017, 20:07||◄ last page|
QUARTER-FINAL REVIEW: Thanks to 10 Vujin goals, THW Kiel record their second successive home quarter-final win over FC Barcelona
Kiel win giant’s battle, but Barca still can hope for Cologne
In April 2016, Kiel sensationally eliminated the defending VELUX EHF Champions League champions FC Barcelona in the quarter-final. The key was a 29:24 win on home ground. A year later, Kiel have won the repeat tie but will travel to Barcelona next Sunday with a lower margin.
QUARTER-FINAL, FIRST LEG
Boosted by the incredible noise of 10,250 fans in the sold-out Sparkassen-Arena, Kiel started in high-speed mode, with Serbian sniper Marko Vujin on fire.
The right back scored the first four THW goals and was the main reason for Kiel's early 9:4 lead just over halfway through the first half. At the break, Vujin already had six goals on his tally, adding another four in the second half.
Barcelona simply did not find the means in attack and were not aggressive enough in defence. But things changed after coach Xavi Pascual called a time-out. With an more efficiency in attack and a strong performance by former THW left back Filip Jicha, the eight-times Champions League winners reduced the gap goal by goal.
When Jicha, who had scored only six goals in the previous 14 Champions League matches this season, had netted in his third of this match, the result was levelled at 15:15.
Kiel hold on for the win
Vujin's sixth net gave the hosts a one-goal advantage at the break. When the teams returned, Patrick Wiencek fought extremely hard-line duels with Barca’s stars Jesper Noddesdo, Kamil Syprzak and Cedric Sorhaindo, generally coming out victorious.
Kiel's wings Niklas Ekberg and Rune Dahmke were also better than their Barcelona counterparts. Despite not fielding injured captain Domagoj Duvnjak THW were able to extend the gap again to four goals (23:19) with 15 minutes remaining as Vujin scored his ninth of the match.
Vujin’s tenth made Duvnjak jump for joy in the stands. The goal gave Kiel a comfortable four-goal cushion (26:22) in a now truly combative match, in which Rene Toft Hansen received a direct red plus blue card after a foul against his former THW teammate Wael Jallouz in the 53rd minute. The Dane took a seat right in front of Duvnjak – and was as emotional as the Croat.
Barca stood strong, and narrowed the gap to two. When the score was 26:24 in favour of the hosts, Barca’s line player Viran Morros de Argila had a chance to reduce the gap to one, but failed in a counter-attack.
In the last 90 seconds both sides were handicapped by suspensions - Brozovic for Kiel and Morros for Barcelona.
When Swedish youngster Lukas Nilsson missed a pass to Dahmke at 28:26, Pascual took his final time-out with the start of the final minute– having in mind that after the 29:24 loss a year ago, the gate to Cologne is much wider open now. Jallouz missed Barca’s last chance with a direct free-throw.
Are two goals enough?
Barcelona and Kiel have faced each other at this stage in the quarter-finals twice, in 2011 and last year. Both times the winner of the first match at home went on to the VELUX EHF FINAL4, but will their two-goal lead be enough for Kiel this time?
“I do not care, if we win by two or lose or tie. It is always hard to win at Barcelona,” said Kiel's coach Alfred Gislason. “Today my team showed an incredibly strong performance without Domagoj Duvnjak, mainly Marko Vujin and Patrick Wiencek.”
Barcelona’s Jicha was also cautious ahead of the second leg.
“The match at Palau Blaugrana will –like today's in Kiel – be a perfect promotion for handball. Today the fans saw a highly intense battle in a great atmosphere. It was a very emotional comeback to Kiel for me,” he said.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / jh