Leon comeback denies historic Cocks victory
Ademar Leon scored five of the final six goals to snatch a draw and deny Riihimäen Cocks a historic victory in the opening match of the VELUX EHF Champions League season.
That draw allowed Dinamo Bucuresti to take sole possession of top spot in Group D after their hard-fought win against Elverum
- Nico Rönnberg scored Cocks’ first goal in the competition and top scored with eight
- Riihimäki score just one goal in the final 15 minutes as to let victory slip from their grasp
- 5:0 run for Dinamo midway through the match proves to be the difference against Elverum
- This win sees the Bucharest club already match last season’s points total
Riihimäen Cocks (FIN) vs Abanca Ademar Leon (ESP) 19:19 (13:11)
If there were any nerves among the Cocks players at the beginning of their group phase debut, it certainly did not show.
Nico Rönnberg opened the scoring and added another from the penalty line as the Finnish side opened up an early lead.
Eventually Leon began to settle into the match and drew level at 3:3, but that would be as good as it would get for the Spanish runners-up for the next 45 minutes of play.
With a sublime fast break lob by captain Teemu Tamminen and a Vitali Shitsko penalty save in quick succession, it was beginning to look like a dream start to life in the top flight for Cocks.
The Riihimäki back court was enjoying plenty of space to shoot, in particular Rönnberg who finished with eight goals, and when the Leon defence did come out, line player Yury Lukyanchuk was only too happy to take full advantage.
Leon struggled with their hosts’ aggressive defence throughout and with the score at 18:14 with 15 minutes to place, the points appeared to be staying in Finland.
However, Ademar Leon came miraculously back to life and showed the form which led them to the Group C/D Playoffs last season. Ivan Mosic and Jaime Fernandez combined for their final five goals of the game to grab a share of the points and deny Cocks a dream debut.
Tamminen summed up the match neatly, saying: "I am pleased with the result, but we could have done better with scoring goals.”
Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs Elverum Handball (NOR) 26:24 (12:11)
The two times these sides met last season produced on average just under 70 goals per match, but this clash in Romania was a much more calculated affair.
Neither side were able to take control in this match in the first half, with the lead switching between both and being no more significant than a two-goal advantage.
A timeout called late in the first half by Dinamo coach Constantin Stefan proved to be a turning point. Down 11:9 at the time, the home side went on a 5:0 run as Tunisian right back Amine Bannour began to find his range after missing a plethora of chances.
Bucharest appeared to have the upper hand throughout the second half, but could not quite open up a comfortable lead.
Swedish right back Lukas Sandell kept Elverum in touch with some long-range goals, he finished as top scorer with seven, and with three minutes left to play they were back level.
Dinamo refused to let their visitors take another victory with them, held their composure at both ends of the court and earned a 26:24 win, their first over Elverum in three attempts.
This victory already sees the Romanian champions level their points tally from last season’s campaign.Author: Chris O'Reilly/jh