GROUP B REVIEW: Kielce secure second place after a hard-fought 35:27 win against Brest, thanks to experience that proves crucial in the second half.
Perfect finish earns Kielce second place
Losing the chance to top the group after crashing to their fifth defeat in 13 VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase matches last week, KS Vive Tauron Kielce were desperately looking to turn the tide and make their way into the knock-out phase with positive momentum.
Brest had the opportunity to leapfrog the title holders with an improbable, albeit possible, six-goal win.
But in the end Kielce left no doubt on the court as they recorded a clear 35:27 victory after a tough game, which nevertheless highlighted several problems in their defence.
• An 8:0 partial between the 42nd and the 51st minutes is the key to Kielce’s win, after serious trouble for the title holders in the first 40
• The Polish side finish the group in second place and will face the winner of the Montpellier-Motor play-off in the Last 16 phase
• Meshkov rank fifth in the group and will face a dreaded tie in the Last 16, playing against either Veszprem or Flensburg
KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) 35:27 (15:16)
Kielce’s defensive woes this season have been documented, with the Polish powerhouse leaking 40 goals against Vardar, and 34 against Löwen and Celje. While Talant Dujshebaev urged his team to focus more, Kielce’s defence did not improve in the first half against Brest.
The hosts’ 8:6 lead after 12 minutes was thanks to 100% efficiency from their attack, with Brest goalkeeper Ivan Pesic no match for Krzysztof Lijewski’s powerful shots.
The tale of two teams with great offensive weapons continued as the time went on and the sides boasted shooting efficiencies of 79% and 80% after the first 30 minutes.
But a 5:1 partial for Brest in the last eight minutes of the half earned the visitors a 16:15 lead at the break, with Dainis Kristopans and Vladislav Ostroushko in superb form.
Wake-up call earns Kielce the win
As Brest continued to fight and scored at will, Kielce found themselves in trouble with no response in defence. Therefore, it was of little surprise when Brest took the first three-goal lead of the game, 22:19 in the 38th minute, after two consecutive goals from experienced line player Rastko Stojkovic.
It took a concerted effort from Kielce to come back. Karol Bielecki – Kielce’s top scorer, with seven goals, Manuel Strlek and Lijewski were the driving force behind an 8:0 partial, between the 42nd and the 51st minute, that created a 29:24 advantage for the home team with only 10 minutes to go.
Even two Meshkov time-outs were not enough to stop Kielce once they found their rhythm, as the Belarusian side collapsed in an epic freefall that saw an 11-goal turnaround in the last 18 minutes of the game.
The Polish side secured second place in the group with the victory, and will meet either Montpellier or Motor in the next round, while Meskhov will face either Veszprem or Flensburg in a tough two-leg play-off.
TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / cg