GOG take Match of the Week; Porto and Aalborg also stay unbeaten
The first day of Round 2 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League offered us amazing thrillers tonight. And, at the end of them, three teams are now on four points while the three others will have to wait at least until next week to open up their record.
In the Match of the Week, GOG put their feet to the pedal in the last quarter to overcome Plock’s resistance. In the meantime, Porto pulled out one of the craziest comebacks in recent times. Celje led by eight with 20 minutes to play, but the Portuguese side turned things around to win by one in Slovenia (30:29).
In the last game of the evening, Aalborg pulled out a confident performance to take two more points by beating Pelister on home court.
- thanks to an impressive performance from Morten Olsen, who netted 10, GOG won tonight’s Match of the Week against Wisla Plock (30:26)
- Plock’s left-back, Gergo Fazekas was elected Player of the Match after scoring five goals
- despite being down by eight with 20 minutes to play, Porto turned things around to take their second straight win in Celje (30:29)
- in front of a packed home crowd, Aalborg delivered a commanding performance to inflict Pelister with a second loss, and take two more points in the meantime
- with their 15 goals win, Aalborg recorded their biggest ever victory in the EHF Champions League; their previous best was a 37:23 win against Halmstad in 2013
Niklas Landin definitely was the man of the first half for Aalborg. The Danish goalkeeper, who returned to his native Denmark this past summer, helped his team get on the right track with six saves and two goals in the first thirty minutes. A 10:2 scoring run helped Aalborg go back to the dressing room with an eight goal lead (18:10). Despite Pavle Petrovic doing his best and scoring seven, things did not improve for the visitors. Aleks Vlah, who also scored seven goals, put Aalborg ten goals ahead for the first time at the 37th minute. And, the gap kept on increasing to finish at 15 goals at the final siren.
We were playing against a better team today and a lot of more experienced players. We are still a new young team and still trying to find our way of playing. We made too many technical mistakes after 15 minutes and at this level it will just get punished.
You can be the worse team on the court for 40 minutes and still win a game of handball, and Porto proved exactly that tonight. The Portuguese side experienced problems on both sides of the court in the first half, unable to get past Rok Zaponsek and unable to stop Mitja Janc (9 goals). As a consequence, Celje led by as many as eight goals at several points in the first forty minutes. And then, it all went wrong for the Slovenian side. Between minutes 41 and 53, the hosts saw Porto scored ten goals while Celje managed only one goal to close the gap on the scoreboard, and even take the lead with seven minutes left to play. Nikola Mitrevski and his four saves were pivottal for Porto, as was Victor Iturriza, who scored the last four goals for the visitors.
We played a dream match for the first 45 minutes. None of us knows and cannot understand what happened. We can pretend to be victims, but that won't help us. We will definitely not sleep today, this defeat hurts a lot. We could already have 2 victories in the Champions League, but we are at zero.
A tight Match of the Week we expected, and it was exactly what we got tonight in Plock. One statistic will probably sum it all up: only once in the game did a team take a three-goals advantage, and it was the hosts within the first ten minutes (8:5). Plock did seem to have the upper hand in the first half with Gergo Fazekas making an early impression with four goals in the first period. His performance was rewarded with the Player of the Match award, but at the break, both teams were even (13:13). GOG took the momentum in the second half as Morten Olsen was on fire, netting an overall ten goals. Goalkeeper, Tobias Thulin also made a couple of important saves to help the Danish side break away on the scoreboard. While Plock could still hope for a comeback five minutes before the final whistle, their opponents scored a 6:2 series to finish strong and take their second win of the season.
The key to victory for our rival was the brilliantly disposed Morten Olsen, whom we could not stop, especially in the 2nd half. We were fighting 6o minutes long, but at the end GOG was better and won the game. Now we focus on continuing to work and improving what was wrong. After losing points in a home meeting, we will have to try to regain them somewhere away.
photos © Jerzy Stankowski Spojrzenia (Plock), Henrik Hansen (Aalborg)