Vardar 1961 were the only SEHA team to come out on top in EHFCL Round 2

Veselin Vujovic

Round 2 of EHF Champions League brought another two days of European action, but unfortunately for SEHA – Gazprom League teams it didn't go as well as our fans would expect.

PPD Zagreb faced MOL-Pick Szeged in Varosi Sportcsarnok Szeged where they suffered their second loss in just as much matches played. Croatian squad started strong, opening the match with a quick 2 goal run. Szeged caught up with the deficit shortly after and started playing tougher defense which left little to no space for Zagreb attackers. 2:3 in 12th minute turned out to be the last lead for Ivica Obrvan's guys, because shots started falling for the hosts, while everything went downhill for the visitors. Half time result (10:7) showed how good of a team MOL-Pick Szeged really are. Second half only highlighted the quality difference between the two teams, because there were no indicators of a Zagreb return for the entire 30 minutes. The lead got up to 10 in the last minute of this clash, but Filip Vistorop scored with less than five seconds left on the clock for the final 30:21 result. Zagreb were once again hurt mostly by the opposing wings and couldn't stop the leak on defense. Two best scorers from the Hungarian side were Mario Sostaric (right wing) with 7 goals and Sebastian Frimmel (left wing) with 6. Filip Vistorop and Edin Klis, on the other hand, scored 4 each for 'Lions'.

Last match of Group A was especially compelling, as we had the pleasure to watch a real SEHA derby. Vardar 1961 hosted Meshkov Brest in a battle for either team's first win of the EHFCL season. Belarus squad had a slight advantage coming into this match, since they got the better of Vardar in their last three fixtures. But, reality was a bit different. Yoel Cuni Morales opened the scoring with a first-minute goal and Mikita Vailupau answered quickly for the 1:1 tie. That actually ended being the last positive result for Meshkov throughout the entire match. Ten minutes into the match, the result stood at 6:2, mainly thanks to Cuni Morales and Filip Taleski who were hot from the start. Besides Stanislav Kasparek, Dani Gordo's team didn't have a second scoring option which resulted in a six-goal deficit at the half (19:13). Veselin Vujovic knew it won't be an easy task to close out the match and he instructed his team to remain alert at all times. Skopje based team followed the instructions and kept playing as if they were trailing. Hence, the scoreboard showed 35:27 when the final buzzer went off. Kevynn Nyokas was perfect from the floor, finishing the match with 8 goals. Timur Dibirov and Yoel Cuni Morales also played well, as both of them added 5 goals. Kasparek had 6 goals for Meshkov Brest, while Andrei Yurynok and Stas Skube scored 5 each.

Thursday turned out to be slightly disappointing for SEHA teams in Group B. Both Telekom Veszprem and Motor Zaporozhye lost, but against a strong competition who could easily participate in this year's EHF FINAL4.

Motor went to Spain for a clash versus Barca. Ukrainians didn't enter the match as they planned, which saw them fall 7 goals behind after only 13 minutes (10:3). A lot of things weren't going Motor's way, but Barys Pukhouski found the strength to get them back in the match (13:11). Dika Mem couldn't stop scoring and finished the half with 6 goals, while the first 30 minutes ended with a 16:13 Barcelona lead. Reigning champions showcased their class by gaining separation directly when the second half started. With 20 minutes left in the match, Spanish club was 8 goals ahead, but still kept going at the Zaporozhye defense. The end result (36:25) was also the biggest lead they managed to accomplish, which demonstrates how well they play as a team. Dika Mem concluded the match with 8 goals and 5 assists, while Pukhouski had 6 goals and 3 assists for Motor. After two matches, Barcelona remain the only undefeated squad in Group B.

Telekom Veszprem traveled to Poland. LOMZA Vive Kielce wanted to bounce back from an unexpected loss against Dinamo Bucuresti, while Veszprem wanted to continue their good play from Round 1 (defeated PSG 34:31). Polish team gained their lead very fast, which set the tone for the rest of this bout. Momir Ilic's team scored only 2 goals in opening 13 minutes and even though they found their rythm afterwards, it just wasn't enough. Teams went on a break with the scoreboard showing 17:12 in Kielce's favour. Final 30 minutes of this match were a hard-fought battle; Kielce tried to gain a demanding lead, while Veszprem struggled to minimize the differential. In the end, no team managed to do so, but Talant Dujshebaev walked out with a smile on his face. His team snatched a three-goal win (32:29), despite Petar Nenadic going off once again (10 goals). Alex Dujshebaev was the first name for the hosts, scoring 7 and dishing out 7 assists.

Round 3 is played on 29th and 30th September, with only one SEHA team playing on Thursday. The schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, 29th September

Vardar 1961 – Aalborg Handbold (18:45 CET)

PPD Zagreb – Elverum Handball (20:45 CET)

Motor Zaporozhye – LOMZA Vive Kielce (18:45 CET)

Telekom Veszprem – Barca (18:45 CET)

Thursday, 30th September

Meshkov Brest – MOL-Pick Szeged (18:45 CET)