Barça stays unbeaten and ends Kielce’s home court winning streak
Like two weeks ago, when they took a lucky 28:27 victory at Celje, Barça were shaken again in their last group match. But, again they found a way to win with Timothy N’Guessan scoring the winners’ strike for the 32:31 victory on Thursday at Industria Kielce. Thanks to this victory, the defending champions finish the group phase unbeaten, with 13 wins and one draw, and on 27 points. Both sides had already been confirmed to finish first and second and both sides had already directly qualified for the quarter-finals. For Kielce, it was the first home loss this season in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League.
- the line players, Luis Frade and Ludovic Fabregas helped Barça get off to a great start and a 9:4 lead; but, when Kielce’s defence improved, the hosts managed to reduce the margin
- in the initial stages of the second half, Arkadiusz Moryto was the driving force to turn a close deficit into a 20:17 Kielce lead - and finally he was the top scorer with eight goals
- but nothing was decided yet, as the defending champions again levelled the result at 23:23 in minute 49, then took a 24:23 lead - and, from that moment on, the lead changed constantly with the biggest gap only one goal
- Moryto’s eighth strike to make it 31:30 was Kielce’s last lead - then Hampus Wanne (by penalty) and Timothy N’Guessan (best scorer for his side with six strikes) scored the last two goals in the last two minutes for Barça, while Alex Dujshebaev missed Kielce’s last chance
- it was Kielce’s first home defeat this season and their first home loss since a 28:31 defeat to Flensburg on 4 March 2021
Barça with a strong group phase this season
Last season, Barça won nine group matches, were defeated twice by Kielce and once by Veszprem and tied twice - but, in the end they took home the trophy. On the other hand, Kielce had beaten the record winners twice in the group phase - at home and away - and did not lose any home match in the whole season. This season, the defending champions have been strong in the group phase, having 13 wins (include both re-matches of the 2022 final against Kielce) and just one blemish a draw against THW Kiel. Barça look even stronger than last year, but the crunch-time matches are yet to come for both sides in the quarter-finals. Definitely, Barça and Kielce are main contenders for the tickets to Cologne again, but both sides know, anything can happen in the knock-out stage.
Even if the game was not important for final group placement, we fought very well. I hope we will face Barça in Cologne again. We have a lot of work to do and we will come back stronger.
Both teams wanted to win, especially in the second half when the result was close all the time. But, it is history. Both team are now are focused on the quarterfinals. The real part starts now