Nexe proceed, close defeats for Zagreb and Veszprem

Fahrudin Melic

The EHF club competitions have re-started after the World Championship break - and the SEHA - Gazprom League participants started with mixed emotions. While PPD Zagreb (against PSG) and Telekom Veszprem (against GOG) were defeated on home ground in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, Nexe hit the first goal in the EHF European League by qualifying for the Last 16.

Maschineseeker EHF Champions League
PPD Zagreb stood extremely strong against Paris Saint-Germain. The team of head coach Slavko Goluza was ahead in the beginning thanks to the great performance of goalkeeper Dino Slavic, before injury-hit PSG turned the match around before the break. But even, when they were down by 17:22, Zagreb fought like lions, backed by the total ten strikes of Timur Dibirov and five goals of Luka Lovre Klarica. But finally, PPD could not stop PSG wing Ferran Sole, who netted 12 times, being the match-winner in the 33:30 away victory. Still, Zagreb are on the sixth position, which in the end would be enough to proceed to the play-offs.

Telekom Veszprem surprisingly gave a win from their hands against Danish side GOG - right on the day, when they had announced the signing of French Olympic and World Champion Nedim Remili, who arrives from Kielce and will bolster their squad immediately. Veszprem started by a 0:4 run, but when Vladimir Cupara replaced Rodrigo Corrales between the posts, the only way was up for the team of head coach Momir Ilic. Veszprem took the lead, as Serbian shooter Petar Nenadic was on fire with an overall of eight goals. After leading 21:19 at the break, Veszprem seemed to be on the winners’ way, but Danish World Champions Simon Pytlick and Lukas Jorgensen were unstoppable. Veszprem were down by three goals several times in the second, but constantly managed to level the result until the final minute thanks to Cupara’s saves, when GOG netted for the 37:36 - and French superstar Kentin Mahe missed Veszprem’s last chance. Due to this defeat, Veszprem are below PSG now - and have a tough match against Magdeburg ahead next week.

Group A: PSG 18 (+38), Telekom Veszprem 16 (+27), Magdeburg 14 (+20), Dinamo Bucuresti 11 (-8), GOG 11 (-3), PPD Zagreb 8 (-18), Wisla Plock 7 (-26), Porto 3 (-30). 
EHF European League
Despite ten goals of Nikola Ivanovic, Tatran Presov lost at defending European League champions SL Benfica in group A by 28:35, the defeat was already confirmed at the break (11:21), but Tatran never gave up. The gap to the fourth position, currently taken by Benfica, is still four points for Presov three rounds before the end of the group phase. Second best Tatran scorer was Oliver Rabek by five strikes. 

Group A: Montpellier 14 (+41), Goppingen 10 (+43), Kadetten 8 (+5), Benfica 6 (+2), Tatran Presov 2 (-38), Veszpremi KKFT 2 (-53). 
In Group C, Nexe booked their ticket for the Last 16 with a close but deserved 29:28 against Skjern Handbold. The visitors from Denmark were constantly ahead until 20:19 before Fahrudin Melic levelled the result for the first time. With goalkeeper Dominik Kuzmanovic on fire with nine saves, the game became a true thriller - and finally, Tomislav Severec secured the Nexe win with a last-gasp goal. The Nasice team remains on top of the group, best scorers were Marin Jelinic by six goals and Melic by five strikes.

Group C: Nexe 12 (+28), Granollers 10 (+18), Sporting 10 (+11), Skjern 6 (+3), Balatonfuredi 3 (-27), Alpla Hard 1 (-33). 
Eurofarm Pelister were close to take a point at Skanderborg-Aarhus, but in the final stages, the time was ticking against the team of Danish-born head coach Lars Walther. At Denmark, a weak period right at the start of the second, when the hosts pulled ahead from 11:11 to 21:13 stood in the way of the Macedonians. Even 12 saves of goalkeeper Urban Lesjak could not prevent the 22:24 defeat, the best Eurofarm scorers were Mirko Radovic and Zarko Peshevski by four goals each. Eurofarm Pelister remains in the fourth position with five points, while Skanderborg already booked their Last 16 ticket. 

Group D: Fuchse Berlin 14 (+54), Skanderborg Aarhus 10 (+24), Bidasoa Irun 7 (+6), Eurofarm Pelister 5 (-21), Motor 3 (-26), Aguas Santas 3 (-37).