Landin's saves help Kiel to important fifth straight win
A day after Paris Saint-Germain secured the top position in VELUX EHF Champions League Group B, the fight for second place opened up again on Sunday.
Led by their excellent goalkeeper Niklas Landin, THW Kiel earned their fifth straight win in the competition - 27:20 at Aalborg Håndbold - and the three-time champions joined Flensburg and Veszprém on 15 points.
Due to this result, Meshkov Brest, currently on eight points, need only one more point from their last two group matches against PSG and Kielce to book a Last 16 ticket. And if Celje and Aalborg, both on five points, would draw in their direct encounter on Saturday, Brest are through regardless other results.
Goalkeeper Niklas Landin was Kiel’s match winner with 16 saves
Ekberg (Kiel) and Ellebaek (Aalborg) led their teams with seven goals each
It was THW’s fourth straight away win after triumphing in Brest, Celje and Flensburg
Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs THW Kiel (GER) 20:27 (11:15)
After a minute of silence to commemorate Prince Henrik of Denmark, who passed away Tuesday, the match started with 1:0 and 2:1 leads for Aalborg, the only times the hosts would be ahead.
In the first half, both sides focussed on defending (Kiel) and goalkeeping (Aalborg), and both sides had problems in finding the gaps.
The only exception was Niclas Ekberg. The Swedish EHF EURO 2018 silver medallist had already been Kiel’s best scorer against Veszprém in the previous round, and the right wing netted six of his seven goals against Aalborg before the break.
“We created a fine lead in the first half, and we agreed to play more safely in the second half, where we normally play a more fast kind of handball," Ekberg said.
Boosted by him and nearly 500 fans on the stands, Kiel took the initiative but could not fully cast off their opponents until building a four-goal lead in the last minutes before the break (15:11).
While their Danish goalkeeper Niklas Landin saved some important shots, Kiel saw their lead steadily growing, to seven goals.
Aalborg coach Aron Kristjansson took his next timeout, and his team at least didn’t allow the deficit to get even bigger.
It was a fellow Dane, Landin, who shattered Aalborg’s hopes by saving another penalty shot of centre back Lovro Jotic at 22:17.
Even with Austrian Nikola Bilyk (six goals in total) being on fire now, Kiel briefly lost their rhythm. But when Landin saved his 14th shot of the match and strong line player Patrick Wiencek scored the 25:19 five minutes before the end, the match was decided.
"It was an intense start, where Kiel played well in defence, and we had problems scoring goals," Aalborg coach Kristjansson said. "We played seven against six, and we cut the deficit to three goals but in the end our chances did not pay off."Author: Björn Pazen / ew