DAY REVIEW: Barça and GOG extend winning streaks
An eventful evening in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League produced once again fiery clashes, with two of the matches producing 68 and 66 goals respectively, as Barça and GOG were pretty much flawless from an attacking point of view, clinching crucial wins against FC Porto and Telekom Veszprém HC.
The Hungarian powerhouse conceded their first loss of the season, while HC Zagreb secured their maiden win, with a dominating display against Kolstad Handball, with the Norwegian champions being stopped in their tracks, due to a monster effort on defence by the Croatian side.
- for the third time in the past five seasons, Barça have started the season in the European premium competition with three wins in a row, after their dominating performance at Porto, 38:30
- on the back of a 11-goal outing from left back Hans Aaron Mensing, his personal best in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, GOG delivered a huge 36:30 win against Veszprém, their third in a row
- Mensing is also placed second in the top goal scorer standings, with 24 goals so far after three rounds, two goals less than Szeged’s Mario Sostaric and tied with Kielce’s left back Szymon Sicko
- with their outstanding 31:20 win over Kolstad Handball, HC Zagreb secured their largest win in the European top competition since October 2013, when they beat St Petersburg by an 11-goal margin, 35:24
- Egyptian left back Ahmed Hesham doubled his scoring tally from the first two rounds, carrying Montpellier to the first win of the season, with a nine-goal performance against Orlen Wisla Plock
After winning their debut match in their maiden season in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, Kolstad Handball got a reality check and lost the next two, but the way they conceded the loss against Zagreb was surely the most worrying fact for coach Christian Berge. The Croatian side, which was still eyeing their first win of the season, got a strong start and never looked back, cruising to their largest win in the competition in the past 10 years, 31:20, in a complete performance, on both sides of the ball. Goalkeeper Matej Mandic saved 16 shots for a 47% saving efficiency, while Cuban right back Yoel Cuni Morales added eight goals in a dominating performance for the Croatian side.
I have to be completely honest and say we didn't expect it to be this easy. We were well-aware of how good their transition is, and once we've managed to slow it down, and basically take their strongest weapon away from them, we've given ourselves a chance to win this one.
Their goalkeeper had a great game, kudos to him really. It was a really good, physical performance from their side, while we on the other side had way too many ups and downs and that's simply something you can't allow yourself to do on this level.
Last season, GOG scored 37 goals against Veszprém and clinched a surprising away win against the Hungarian powerhouse, 37:36. It seems that the Danish side is doing something right against Veszprém, as they dominated once again through their attack, putting 36 goals past them and clinched a clear 36:30 win, which sent Veszprém once again to the drawing board, as they conceded the first loss of the season. On the other hand, GOG have started a season with three consecutive wins for the first time in their history, even though they changed the coach after only a couple of matches, with Mikkel Voigt replacing Ian Marko Fog.
Veszprém are one of the favourites, so it’s a big win for us. We had many good individual moments today it was first of all a very good day for the team. Of course, it’s a very important victory for us and we are happy for our six points in the first three matches.
We expected fast goals, and we tried to avoid them, but we couldn’t. Their goalkeeper also had an amazing day. I told my players that this can happen. Sometimes you play good, but the other team is better. And today GOG played fantastic.
A 10:2 run between the 25th and the 36th minute was the backbone of Barça’s win, their third in a row, in another impressive outing for the Spanish side, which was written off due to the large changes in their squad during this summer. After winning their first two matches, Porto had little firepower to show against Barça, with the Spanish side’s outstanding 73% shooting efficiency, deciding the match, as the Portuguese champions dropped their first match of the season. Barça returned to their usual attacking prowess, being one of the two sides with goals scored in triple digits this season – 100 – only three behind the best attack in the competition – GOG – which scored 103 goals so far.
Barça were the fair winner of this match, but congrats to my players as well. They fought and they were brave. We began the match very well, our defence was aggressive and on point. We took our risks and the team responded accordingly.
We had a great match, because it’s always complicated to come here, and in the anniversary of the club. We knew the hall would be packed and the fans supporting. FC Porto had a great first half, we would not expected 5-1 so early. But in the second half we did an fantastic entry, took it over and I’m happy.
A 7:2 run spinning from the 49th to the final whistle was decisive for Montpellier, turned the game on its head and sealed the first win for the French side, with an extraordinary contribution from left back Ahmed Hesham and right wing Sebastian Karlsson. Hesham had four goals in that span, Karlsson added two, as the two combined for 14 goals throughout the match. Plock will lament their attacking woes in the business end of the match, as they will still be searching for their first win this season, which, coincidentally, would be their 50th in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League.
We fought for 60 minutes and we can thank Rémi (Desbonnet) for some important saves at the end of the game. We showed good spirit and proved that we fight to the end.
In the second half the red card changed the plan of the match. But I only have good words for my players, they gave everything. In the last 10 minutes we missed some shoots but we had a chance to win. We will continue to work hard.
Thursday's action in pictures
Photo: Lau Nielsen (@hsnlau)/GOG, #patriciasports/Montpellier, FC Porto, PIXSELL/HC Zagreb