Lucky Barça take the lead just once at Celje - and win
For 59 minutes and 40 seconds, mighty Barça trailed at RK Celje Pivovarna Laško, but thanks to a counter-attack goal from last season’s Champions League top scorer, Aleix Gomez and a last-second save by goalkeeper, Emil Nielsen they turned the match around. The truly unlucky hosts were dominant almost until the end. With Celje ahead 27:24, Barça scored the last four goals to extend their series to now 21 unbeaten matches in a row and their 11th victory in this Machineseeker EHF Champions League season. One week after their sensational away win at Nantes, Celje definitely seemed to have deserved at least one point, but with the loss they remain on six points in seventh place.
RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO) vs Barça (ESP) 27:28 (15:12)
- backed by multiple saves from goalkeeper Gal Gabersek, Celje led the entire first half; they also profited from an unusual number of Barça mistakes, and took their first three-goal advance at 13:10
- for the third time this season, Barça trailed at the break, but the other two times they were down by just 1 goal, not 3
- in the second half the hosts even forged ahead to 21:17, but then defended too tough and received many suspensions; while shorthanded several times, they lost a lot of power in attack, but still could count on and outstanding Gabersek in goal (12 saves in total)
- Barça cut the lead to 20:21, but then a treble strike of M&M&M (Marguc, Mlakar, Mazej) gave Celje another four-goals advantage - they had “survived” those shorthanded minutes without giving the up the lead
- with the fans behind them and a 27:24 lead, Celje seemed to be on path to a major upset - but thanks to an extremely aggressive defence, Barça caused several turnovers, and with the last four straight goals from Ludovic Fabregas, Dika Mem ( 2) and Gomez they secured a lucky win
Extremely close to a major sensation
RK Celje Pivovarna Laško had not won any match against Barça in nearly 18 years - and in that time, they had never been closer than Wednesday night. Backed by incredible 21 year old goalkeeper, Gal Gabersek and eight goals from Gal Marguc, they fought for every centimetre, feeling that a sensation was possible against a Barça team, which was not playing at their their top level. But, in the end, Barça's experience and power in the last minutes - thanks to their world-class depth at all positions - compared to Celje’s young guns - destroyed the hopes of the Slovenian champions.
I told the players after the game that I am proud of them. We played great for 59 minutes. We were better, and then we were unlucky.
We didn't expect a game like this, but in the end we managed to turn it around and win. We were focused until the last seconds and it paid off.