Kiel avoid an all-German Last 16, PSG extend their home series
THW Kiel have cheated the gallows in a true thriller: Thanks to the 29:29 at Paris Saint-Germain, the three times EHF Champions League winners avoided another Last16 duel with their German rivals Rhein-Neckar Löwen like in the previous season. Finishing fourth - one point ahead of Vive Kielce - Kiel now will duel with Szeged, while Löwen lock horns with Kielce.
For Paris, the only meaning of the match after already skipping the Last16 as group winner, was to extend their unbeaten series on home ground - what they managed. The 2017 finalists will have their quarter-final against the winner of the match Kielce vs Löwen. The winner of Kiel vs Szeged will face defending champions Vardar Skopje in the quarter-final.
Before, Flensburg had secured the third position by winning at Aalborg, now the Germans will face IFK Kristianstad.
With six Danish players on court, SG Flensburg-Handewitt took a clear and dominant win on Danish ground. Thanks to the 31:24 (15:11) victory at Aalborg, Flensburg sealed the third position in Group B, now facing Swedish side IFK Kristianstad, the sixth ranked team of Group A in the Last 16, with the second leg on home ground.
"I am very satisfied because we got the victory and therefore the third place in the group, which we came for. We were really professional from the start, and Kevin did a fantastic job in goal today which helped us much. In the end the victory looked easier than is actually was, which is a huge credit to my players, who did a great job today," Maik Machulla, SG Flensburg-Handewitt coach commented.
- Aalborg remain without a point against Flensburg after four duels.
- 17 of 31 Flensburg goals scored by Danish players.
- Marco Vujin scores eleven goals for THW Kiel.
- Paris extended their unbeaten series on home ground in the VELUX EHF Champions League to 28 matches
Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs. THW Kiel (GER) 29:29 (16:11)
Kiel had a lacklustre start, while PSG (still without injured German left wing Uwe Gensheimer) did not even have to show all they can to pull ahead easily. When Nedim Remili netted in for the 7:2, the THW players might have had last season’s 24:42 defeat at Paris in their heads. Nothing changed until the 16:9 for the host, though the big show of THW right back Marko Vujin had already started. The Serb scored and scored - but still his side was down 11:16 at the break.
But then Kiel’s coach Alfred Gislason took a decision, which changed it all - changing the goalkeeper from Niklas Landin to Andreas Wolff. The 2016 EHF EURO hero was on fire from the very first moment. Wolff’s saves backed Kiel, while PSG lost their rhythm.
At the score of 17:15 for the hosts, Wolff saved a penalty shot of Sander Sagosen, and only some minutes later, Vujin’s seventh strike for the 20:20 meant the first levelled result after the 1:1. At that certain moment, Kiel were fourth ranked for the first time - and would have avoided a duel with their country-rivals Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the Last16. Vujin’s ninth goal even was the first THW lead at 23:22.
Though the match was meaningless for the hosts, who had already confirmed the first position before, they did not want their impressive home win series come to an end: Paris had lost any of their last 27 Champions League home matches, the balance were 25 wins and two draws. The last team to beat PSG on their ground was - THW Kiel by a 27:25 on 16 November 2014.
In the final stages, PSG were ahead by two goals several times, but Kiel managed to level the result again three minutes before the final buzzer at 27:27.
But then, first former Kiel goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer saved a shot of Nikola Bilyk, then Patrick Wiencek received his third suspension and was sent to the tribune. But as Nikola Karabatic got the same punishment (red card after three times two minutes), the number of players was levelled.
Both sides stroke again, and when Raul Santos netted in for the 29:28 with only 15 seconds on the clock, Kiel had avoided the Last16 against Löwen. And thanks to Abalo’s equalizer, PSG extended their series of unbeaten home matches to 28. Vujin’s last shot - a final free-throw was saved by Omeyer.
Aalborg Handbold (DEN) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 24:31 (11:15)
It was in minute 13 on Sunday afternoon and it was Tobias Ellebaek, who provided Aalborg Handbold with their last advance on international ground in the 2017/18 season, the 6:5 against SG Flensburg-Handewitt. The Danish champions missed the Last 16 ticket already before their final match, but they wanted to give a hard fight to the visitors from the Danish-German border.
But this intention lasted only until the middle of the first half, then it was mainly a Dane, who ended Aalborg’s hopes: SG goalkeeper Kevin Möller, who showed a superb performance with 16 saves and even one goal in the last group match. Intermediately he was on more than 50 percent saved shots.
Aalborg were quite on an equal level until 10:12 in minute 27, then Flensburg’s high speed handball decided the game quite early. Aalborg nearly constantly played with a seventh court player - and nearly constantly Flensburg caused turnovers to net into the empty goal.
After a triple strike for the 20:14, the deal was sealed, then Flensburg even forged ahead to a nine-goal advance at 29:20.
Ellebaek, Martin Larsen ()both Aalborg) and Holger Glandorf (Flensburg) were the best scorers by six goals each.
Aron Kristjansson, Aalborg head coach said: "We got a very bad start to the match, but we got back and also took the lead in the first half. But throughout the match we missed too many opportunities and made too many mistakes, which Flensburg-Handewitt punished us for. We fought throughout the match to keep us in it, but in the end it was not enough. Flensburg was the better team today, and Kevin Møller did a very good job in goal for them."Author: Björn Pazen / br