Aalborg cruise past Zagreb
Aalborg Håndbold and HC PPD Zagreb were the positive and the negative surprises of the previous season – and the roles looked the same in their opening group A match in the new edition of the EHF Champions League Men.
Aalborg, last season's runners-up, had no problems as they started the new season with a double-figure victory. After suffering 14 defeats in the 2020/2021 group phase, HC PPD Zagreb lost again.
- it was Aalborg’s fourth victory from five matches against Zagreb and the third in a row. Aalborg also matched the 10-goal winning margin achieved against Zagreb, at home, in 2019 (30:20)
- Aalborg’s Norwegian left wing Sebastian Barthold scored nine goals from nine shots to become the top scorer, while goalkeeper Mikael Aggefors was another match winner with 17 saves and a 41 per cent save efficiency
- despite signing many experienced players, Zagreb youngsters David Mandic (24), Luka Lovre Klarica (19) and Filip Vistorop (23) drove their attack, scoring 13 of their 24 goals
- Zagreb were level at 12:12 in the 25th minute, but it took the visitors only eight minutes to produce an 8:2 run that saw the match effectively decided in their favour
- despite a bloody nose for new arrival Jesper Nielsen, who was hit by Jakov Gojun, Aalborg had their first double-figure lead (27:17) in the 45th minute
Zagreb’s new arrivals need time for integration
HC PPD Zagreb bolstered their squad by signing some homegrown stars for the new season. But in the opener, former or current Croatian internationals such as Ivan Cupic, Filip Ivic, Jakov Gojun, Zeljko Musa and Sandro Obradovic could not fulfil the expectations of the fans and the club.
The newly composed middle block of EHF European League winner Musa, who arrived from Magdeburg, and EHF European League finalist Gojun need some time to form a rock-solid wall.
As coach (Stefan Madsen) said, these first matches of the season are always exciting. We were expecting a strong PPD Zagreb after those SEHA league outings, and I can say we've prepared well.
Zagreb managed to open the match well, but our defence got much better later on – helping me grab more saves. In the end, a big win which we're obviously satisfied with.