Löwen resist Barça comeback to win maiden game
It may have looked like deja-vu for the fans who attended the 31:31 draw between Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Barça Lassa one year ago, but the two sides locked horns once again in the first round of the VELUX EHF Champions League.
This time, however, Löwen looked like clear winners for almost 40 minutes, but had to resist a furious Barça comeback to take the two points, after an electrifying 35:34 shoot-out.
- It is the fourth win in 10 games for Löwen against Barça in the last nine years
- 39-year old left wing Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson was Löwen’s best scorer, with six goals
- Wing Aleix Gomez had an almost perfect game for Barça, with 11 goals
- Löwen’s shot efficiency of 78% helped them earn the first win of the season
Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs Barça Lassa (ESP) 35:34 (16:13)
After an underwhelming last season for both teams, Löwen and Barça were eager to come back stronger this season. Therefore, with the debut match always of the utmost importance, there was no room for mistakes.
It was Barça who threw off the game in style, as the Spanish side were close to 100% efficiency in the first 10 minutes, jumping to a 4:2 lead, with an impressive defensive display that limited the German side’s attack.
But sooner rather than later, after a timeout called by Nikolai Jacobsen, Löwen’s coach, the Spanish attack lost its rhythm, as the German champions took control of the game. With veteran Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson in fine form both in attack and defence, the hosts took a 7:2 partial between the 14th and the 21st minute that saw them in command.
No less than nine outfield players scored for Barça in the first half, yet the Catalan side lacked the cutting edge to take back control of the game, as the hosts boasted a 16:13 lead after 30 minutes, especially thanks to goalkeeper Mikael Appelgren, who recorded eight saves.
An effective Mads Mensah Larsen scored two consecutive goals to throw off the second half for Löwen, who looked undefendable at times, as they jumped to a 26:20 lead with 15 minutes to go.
A late 5:1 partial from Barça, inspired by right wing Aleix Gomez, who scored 11 times in the whole game, saw the Spanish champions cut the difference to only two goals, but in the end it was Löwen who were celebrating.
The German side managed to stop the Spanish comeback and prevented another draw between the two sides, edging a 35:34 win.
Afterwards Jacobsen said he was proud of his men.
"We did not only win against one of the best teams, most of the time I believe we dominated the game. At the end it was close, but that shows how strong Barcelona is," he said.
Author: Adrian Costieu/jh