20230216 Magdeburg Veszprem 7127 Kopie
EHF Champions League

Smits and Portner keep Magdeburg’s flame of hope burning

MAL7445 V
EHF / Björn Pazen

This MOTW was definitely a clash of giants and a match on the highest level: Attended by 5,557 fans and despite injury problems, SC Magdeburg celebrated a 32:25 victory against Telekom Veszprém. It was an intense fight and their first home match versus Veszprém in more than 20 years. Thanks to this win, the German champions are level with Veszprém at 16 points and have improved their chances of making it directly to the quarter-finals.  

Goalkeeper Nikola Portner (13 saves) and Kay Smits (9 goals; Player of the match) were the keys to this deserved victory. Also, playing important roles were German internationals, Philipp Weber (9 goals like Smits) and Lukas Mertens (6) played a perfect role. This was Veszprém's second defeat of the season, having also lost at home last week against GOG.

MOTW: SC Magdeburg (GER) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) 32:25 (16:15) 

  • SC Magdeburg tool full control in the first 15 minutes, as goalkeeper Nikola Portner stood like a wall, while his teammates were highly efficient in attack – but after leading 10:6, the gap melted, as Veszprém improved in attack, thanks to Manuel Strlek and Andres Nilsson 
  • right after the break, Veszprém managed to level the result for the first time, thanks in part to a goalkeeper change from Vladimir Cupara to Rodrigo Corrales 
  • the only reason why the visitors did not take the lead in this crucial period was again, Portner, who returned to the high level he displayed at the start of the match and boosted his side to a 22:19 advantage
  • Magdeburg continued to pour it on: a double strike from top scorer, Kay Smits and a counter-attack goal from Lukas Mertens provided the hosts with their first five-goals gap at 25:20; This was followed with Momir Ilic’s last time-out for Veszprém and a direct red card against Dragan Pechmalbec for a foul against Philipp Weber 
  • The matched continued with Mike Jensen saving a Mikita Vailupau penalty shot, which was followed by the sixth goal for left wing, Mertens, who played an outstanding second half

Magdeburg have the ace up their sleeve now 

Two rounds before the end of the group phase, Veszprém missed an opportunity to book a direct ticket to the quarter-finals. With Magdeburg's victory, the German side are now equal with Veszprém at 16 points and they have the tiebreaker since the first leg between the two sides resulted in a draw. In the remaining two matches, Magdeburg travel to Zagreb and host Dinamo Bucuresti, while Veszprém have their last home match against Porto and then travel to Paris, the top-ranked side of this group.  

Magdeburg deserved this win in a true fight. Now we try to win our last two matches. It is still not impossible to finish second and we will fight until the end.
Manuel Strlek
Left Wing Veszprém
Our squad proved how balanced we are; that we even can replace top stars such as Magnus Saugstrup or Omar Ingi Magnusson. It was not a win because of Kay Smits and Nikola Portner. It was a success of the team. Every player fought for every centimeter as a team.
Bennet Wiegert
Head Coach, Magdeburh

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