With another win over the reigning SEHA – Gazprom League champions Telekom Veszprem, Partizan has on Wednesday evening managed to become the third team to book a spot in the SEHA – Gazprom League final tournament. Veljko Popovic was leading them offensively with six goals, while Andrej Trnavac and Ivan Mihajlov accounted for 14 saves in the 19:21 victory.
In what was a low-scoring match compared to the first leg, hosts were looking better in the beginning taking an early 5:3 lead. Botond Balogh was leading their offense in the first half scoring two goals, while Krisztian Mikler accounted for seven saves. Unfortunately for the home-team fans, it didn’t take long for Serbian representatives in the competition to get back into it – Veljko Popovic levelled the match at 5:5, with Partizan managing to widen the gap to 8:12 before the break. Nikola Zecevic and Veljko Popovic ended up leading the offense for the guests finishing the first half with three goals each, while Andrej Trnavac grabbed eight saves.
In the second half, Partizan’s coach Dario Krzelj used the opportunity to rotate the squad a bit more giving all of his players a chance to play in this SEHA – Gazprom League quarter-final encounter, and as a result of that Telekom Veszprem managed to narrow the gap to only -1 (18:19) with just under five minutes left on the clock. A little over a minute before the final buzzer Marko Horvath helped his team narrow the gap again (19:20), however Milos Cekic finished it with his second of the night bringing his team a final 19:21 win. Veljko Popovic delivered a solid performance scoring six goals, while Nikola Zecevic added four. Ivan Mihajlov had six saves in the second half only which means he and Andrej Trnavac combined for 14 in this one proving to be one of the key figures for this Partizan team. Benedek Pinter on the other side went 6/6 for Telekom Veszprem, while Krisztian Mikler finished the match with 11 saves.
Partizan has that way managed to join Eurofarm Pelister and Vardar 1961 as the third team to book a spot in the SEHA – Gazprom League final tournament.
Petar Zujovic, Partizan assistant coach:
First of all, I’d like to thank Veszprem for the hospitality. It was a real honour to play against such a club. We are really proud that we’ve managed to qualify for the F4 tournament. We’re happy that we’ve managed to win two matches and represent Serbian handball in the best possible way here in Veszprem Arena.
Uros Kojadinovic, Partizan player:
We’ve played a really good match against this rejuvenated Veszprem team. They looked like a completely different team today, compared to the first leg, and it was a pretty difficult game for us. Obviously, I’m happy that we’ve managed to secure a F4 spot, and I’d like to use the opportunity to wish these talented Hungarian players all the best going forward.
Dinko Dankovic, Telekom Veszprem coach:
Partizan has managed to defeat us twice and we’ve got to start by congratulating them on that achievement. They have some really great, young players, and it was a big experience for us to play them. Playing SEHA League matches is something new for this team, and I have to say I feel like we were under pressure a bit. Today we’ve shown that we’re capable of delivering a competitive performance against Partizan. This was a really big experience for us.
Krisztián Mikler, Telekom Veszprem player:
Congrats to Partizan on making it to the next stage of the competition. That was decided in the first leg. Today we’ve given our best to deliver a good performance, and I have to add it was a huge experience for us all.