Flensburg's MOTW win vs PSG caps thrilling round 13
The EHF Champions League Men 2020/21 enjoyed another action-packed week, with round 13 in focus on Wednesday and Thursday.
- in the Match of the Week, Flensburg earn a narrow win over PSG in group A
- also in group A, Kielce defeat Szeged 30:26 and Vardar come from behind to beat Elverum
- in group B, Aalborg beat Motor 29:27 in a last-gasp comeback, Kiel force a draw in Nantes, Veszprém cruise to clear win against Zagreb and Barça clinch a late victory against Celje
- see all the group standings following the mid-week clashes here
If you missed any of tonight's excitement, read the match reviews below to catch up.
The next EHF Champions League action will be on Sunday 28 February, as Szeged play their rescheduled round 6 match against Flensburg. Elverum and PSG, and Kiel and Celje also have rescheduled matches on Tuesday, and then we're into round 14 on Wednesday and Thursday and the blog will be back. Keep following on social media for video highlights in the meantime!
Here's a round-up of the results of round 13. Can you believe there's only one more round (plus a few rescheduled games) to go in the group phase?
Round 13 has been full of drama! Veszprém had the most straightforward match but every other game was close all the way. Flensburg are the only team to record a home win; Nantes and Kiel produced the only draw. Vardar, Barça and Aalborg all fought back from losing positions at half-time to earn away points; and Szeged and Kielce were close right up until the last few minutes.
Our poll tonight, therefore, is which of the round 13 comebacks impressed you most? PSG just miss out on a place in this as they came so agonisingly short of a draw in that amazing Match of the Week.
Benjamin Buric is named Player of the Match tonight after a blistering performance, particularly in the second half when he made a number of saves just as PSG looked to be regaining momentum. Impressive stuff.
22:21 | FULL-TIME
An extraordinary Match of the Week ends in an extraordinary way. Nedim Remili makes it 27:28 with 33 seconds on the clock; Flensburg then lose possession, but Remili's fast break shot hits the post and the buzzer goes with various players flat on their backs in exhaustion.
The result sees Flensburg firmly in second place in group A with 17 points after 10 games, behind Kielce, now on 19 points after 13 games. PSG are third with 12 points, also after 10 games.
22:12 | FULL-TIME
Veszprém wrap up a straightforward win over Zagreb and have secured themselves second place in group B. Zagreb remain on zero points.
PSG got back within a goal of Flensburg, and if Benjamin Buric hadn't just made yet another superb save the score would have been level. There are a little over four minutes left to play and it's 28:26.
An update of what's happening in Zagreb: Zagreb briefly fought back into the match but Veszprém countered and have eased back out to a 34:27 lead.
One of the changes Raul Gonzalez made at the break was to switch Yann Genty for Vincent Gerard, and Gerard has had a big impact - saving 43 per cent of Flensburg's shots and scoring into the empty goal. PSG have got the margin back to three goals and have the momentum.
PSG now trail Flensburg by five goals. They're definitely playing better than in the first half, with more energy and attack, and it's paying off with 18 minutes to go.
Meanwhile, this was how the first half of MOTW ended.
Speaking of Mikkel Hansen this wasn't his finest hour, but Kamil Syrpzak puts it home.
What a start to the second half for PSG! First Viran Morros is handed a suspension, and then Dylan Nahi receives a red card for a high tackle to Magnus Rød. With Mikkel Hansen serving out the end of a suspension from the first half PSG are briefly three men down, but despite this Hansen, free of his suspension, scores twice and it's 19:12. Insane!
Despite Zagreb's woes, Todor Jandric is having a fairly decent day in goal with six saves (26 per cent) - one more, in fact, than Vladimir Cupara for Veszprém. This save was particularly entertaining.
Some thoughts from EHF journalist Kevin Domas on the first half of the MOTW:
"Is this the same Paris team we saw on Tuesday? To me, it is not, but it is mainly Flensburg's fault. The German side has been exploiting every mistake made by the Paris defence to increase the score. Paris will have to show a completely different face on both sides of the court if they want to come back into the game."
21:23 | HALF-TIME
SG FLENSBURG-HANDEWITT 19:10 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN HB
Well, what can PSG do about this? It's been a dreadful start for the visitors who just have no answers for a fluid and aggressive Flensburg side. It would take something special to claw this back.
HC PPD ZAGREB 11:17 TELEKOM VESZPRÉM
Better accuracy is carrying Veszprém to a comfortable lead against Zagreb, who seem to be on course for their 13th consecutive loss this season.
Lasse Møller scores twice in 10 seconds, taking advantage of another mistake by PSG to steal the ball and bring it swiftly down the court.
PSG are still finding the going a bit tough. They don't look like the same team that demolished Kielce on Tuesday.
This was a great shot from Gøran Johannessen as Flensburg moved out to that impressive seven-goal lead.
This is a little better from PSG. They've clawed back three goals, and Flensburg coach Maik Machulla calls a timeout.
Benjamin Buric has been helpful for the hosts so far, with five saves for an efficiency rate of 45.5 per cent. Hampus Wanne - five goals from five shots - is also key to their current lead.
Veszprém, by the way, now lead Zagreb 14:8.
PSG are stuck for ideas. Flensburg are flying, leading now 11:4 after just 15 minutes.
Mikkel Hansen opened the MOTW scoring with a simple penalty shot - his 900th goal in the EHF Champions League.
Ten minutes into the match and Flensburg are looking stronger than PSG, who are making uncharacteristic mistakes. Hampus Wanne has scored four goals and it's 7:3 to the hosts at the moment.
Hampus Wanne has scored three goals inside a minute and Flensburg are up 4:2.
Meanwhile Zagreb are hosting Veszprém and it's been a slower start: Veszprém lead 2:1.
Ready for Match of the Week? Flensburg beat Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg - another MOTW - but PSG are on a winning streak right now.
Commentator Chris O'Reilly on EHFTV notes the importance of Luc Steins to the Paris side. On loan from Toulouse to replace Luka Karabatic, Steins has brought speed to a team that was perhaps lacking it. He's scored 15 goals in three matches and he wasn't there in September, so let's see what difference he makes tonight.
Flensburg are lacking Franz Semper, Alexander Pettersson and Jacob Heinl through injury, but they have had a good season and will be determined to beat PSG again at home.
Meanwhile the line-ups include four members of the World Championship 2021 All-star Team, including MVP Mikkel Hansen of course.
20:20 | FULL-TIME
Kielce had a bit more energy and attack in the closing stages of their match, and earn another two points. That means they'll remain top of group A whatever happens in the Match of the Week, although both Flensburg and PSG have games to catch up.
A slightly chaotic ending: with the score level and five seconds on the clock, Filip Jicha calls a timeout. Play resumes but the buzzer goes before Kiel can even think about trying to score. However, they've rescued a point after Nantes led throughout the match.
There are shades of Croatia's Tea Pijevic from Niklas Landin in his approach to this save!
Three goals in a row from Alex Dujshebaev put Kielce up 25:22, but Szeged responded and it's back to 24:25. This is a thrilling game!
Nantes have regained a three-goal lead, taking advantage of two suspensions for Kiel at once - although they too are a man down right now. It's 20:17.
It's still level in Szeged (22:22)!
It's level again in Szeged at 18:18 - Kielce briefly held the lead. Check out this sequence of play from towards the end of the first half!
Filip Jicha has brought Niklas Landin on for the second half to replace Dario Quenstedt, who saved only three shots during the first half against Nantes, and he's made an immediate impact. Kiel have closed up to 13:14 with about 10 minutes played of the half.
And we're back ... Szeged got out of the blocks fast with two goals, before Szymon Sicko edged it back to 16:15. Nantes still hold their three-goal lead.
19:30 | HALF-TIME
HBC NANTES 12:9 THW KIEL
Can Nantes beat Kiel for a second time this season? It's looking increasingly likely as they take a three-goal lead into the break.
MOL-PICK SZEGED 14:14 LOMZA VIVE KIELCE
An up-and-down first half ends level. Roland Mikler has saved eight shots to Andreas Wolff's five, but more aggression in attack from Kielce means they have netted the same number of goals as their hosts.
Kiel are currently not finding a way past Emil Nielsen, who is playing brilliantly, although Niclas Ekberg scored this beauty of a goal a little earlier.
Both matches are pretty tight affairs at the moment. Kielce lead Szeged 9:8 and Nantes lead Kiel 8:7 but there's not much to choose between them as we move into the last 10 minutes of the first halves.
Emil Nielsen needed no time to warm up tonight, denying Steffen Weinhold and Hendrik Pekeler in quick succession. The goalkeeper has been critical for Nantes recently and could play a big role again tonight.
Nantes have an early 4:3 lead against Kiel, while Szeged and Kielce are level at 3:3.
We're about to throw off those next two matches.
Coming up next: Nantes vs Kiel and Szeged vs Kielce.
Kiel and Nantes are both coming off wins on Tuesday night, with Nantes having beaten Zagreb and Kiel Aalborg, both by two goals. Their first-ever European meeting last year was a cracker and saw Nantes inflict Kiel's biggest ever home defeat in the Champions League.
Kielce lost to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, while Szeged's last match was a victory over Vardar a week ago - the Hungarian team have now won their last three matches.
18:32 | FULL-TIME
Even five minutes before the end of the match it looked like Aalborg had lost, but a 5:0 run in the last five minutes have given them the victory, with Sebastian Barthold netting the winner. That showed incredible determination.
The win puts Aalborg ahead of Motor in the group B rankings, with 14 points - three short of Veszprém, who play Zagreb later tonight.
Aalborg have managed to find a way through and Henrik Møllgaard has given his team the lead, 28:27. Simon Gade saves a penalty by Artem Kozakevych and there are 30 seconds left with Aalborg in possession.
Moving into the last few minutes and Motor still lead. Here's a look at a good goal by Barys Pukhouski from the first half which gave his team the edge.
Aalborg are battling back, closing the gap to one goal - and plenty of time left to take the lead. Have they got the energy after their narrow loss to Kiel on Tuesday?
Motor, leading 24:21, calls a timeout, but as play resumes they lose possession. Aalborg are still playing seven-on-six.
Aalborg's Sebastian Barthold has scored three penalties in this half so far and that's helping keep Motor at bay, but the Ukrainian club are still ahead as we move closer to the last quarter. It's 21:19.
Aalborg have been deploying a risky seven-on-six tactic and it's not working. Motor have scored twice into the empty Aalborg goal in quick succession with one shot from Eduard Kravchenko and one by goalkeeper Ivan Maroz.
Motor have moved out to a 17:15 lead five minutes into the second half.
17:42 | HALF-TIME
HC MOTOR ZAPOROZHYE 15:14 AALBORG Håndbold
Aidenas Malasinkas, Barys Pukhouski and Viachaslau Bokhan's goals in the last couple of minutes of the half have propelled Motor to a 15:14 lead. A few mistakes by Aalborg, including three missed goals in a row between the 25th and 27th minutes, let the hosts back into the match and they took their opportunities.
This powerful goal earlier on helped Aalborg to an early lead, which Motor then pulled back, and the same is happening now - the hosts got back to 9:10 and the score is now 10:11. Aalborg can't be complacent as Motor, in front of a pretty full arena of fans, are fighting.
Neither of Motor or Aalborg's season top scorers have netted so far. Viachaslau Bokhan has scored 52 goals for Motor since the start of the Champions League season, while Nikolaj Læsø has scored 51 for Aalborg.
Aalborg have gained a three-goal advantage now at 9:6, the latest courtesy of Mark Strandgaard who netted easily into the empty Motor goal.
Tonight's first match is now underway as Motor host Aalborg. It's 3:3 with nearly seven minutes played. Back in round 2, remember, Aalborg beat Motor soundly (38:29) in Denmark.
It's a close race among the leaders of the season's top scorer chart and two of the frontrunners will be on court tonight!
HBC Nantes Valero Rivera is currently first with 66 goals, while PSG's Mikkel Hansen has scored 65 and is joint-second alongside Kielce's Alex Dujshebaev.
Time to test your knowledge of the Match of the Week! See how you go with our short quiz below.
Can Zagreb end the run of defeats that has plagued them this season? The Croatian side have yet to collect any points and will try to take their first when they meet Veszprém.
Veszprém are comfortably second on the table, five points clear of their nearest rivals – but surely aim to firm up their position in Zagreb tonight.
Ahead of the MOTW, Flensburg line player Simon Hald joined Markus Floth for the Breakfast for Champions series on Instagram. Enjoy the episode here!
Both Aalborg and Motor enter their duel tonight on 12 points, currently occupying third and fourth position on the group B table. With Kiel right behind on 11 points and Nantes on 10, whoever is defeated in the Aalborg-Motor match tonight risks losing their current ranking.
Aalborg took the points from the first encounter, 38:29 in Denmark. Can Motor turn the tables at home? If the Ukrainian team win, it will be their first points earned in 2021.
The Champions League 2019/20 winners THW Kiel will meet HBC Nantes in France tonight. For both sides, it is a chance to climb the group B table from their current positions in fifth (Kiel) and sixth (Nantes).
In the first leg in October, Nantes handed Kiel their biggest ever loss in Germany (27:35), so THW will no doubt be out for revenge on Nantes' court.
Kielce are the sole group A leaders – but a shockingly clear defeat at the hands of PSG on Tuesday has put the Polish side in a dangerous position with their rivals in hot pursuit on the table.
Tonight, Kielce take on Szeged and hope to clinch important points to keep their place in first position.
Two days ago, PSG enjoyed an emphatic win against Kielce – and Vincent Gerard had a cracking match between the posts. Enjoy some of his highlights below!
PSG's MOTW opponents Flensburg have yet to play this week, but will back up tonight's clash with a game against Szeged on Sunday. See more about the upcoming schedule here.
Last night's match, Celje vs Barça, was a special one. Do you know why? Try your hand at our quiz!
Tonight's MOTW between Flensburg and PSG will see a duel between several national teammates who took the world title together in January, including Mikkel Hansen and Mads Mensah Larsen.
Read the special feature with Mensah weighing in on the duel below!
This is a 50:50 match. Even though they miss some key players such as Nikola Karabatic, Paris still have a strong squad – but ours is not weak at all. We perform at a high level.
Let's take a closer look at the Match of the Week, with some key facts on the clash:
- the teams have met 13 times in European competitions – Paris won nine games while Flensburg took four
- in the first leg in September, Flensburg became the first team since 2016 (THW Kiel) to take the points in Paris
- Paris clinched the points on their last two trips to Flensburg. The last time the French side lost away in Flensburg was in September 2017
- Flensburg currently suffer many injuries in the squad, with Franz Semper, Alexander Pettersson and Jacob Heinl out. On Paris’ side, Luka Karabatic is still missing
Read more about tonight's other games in the round preview below!
Thursday 25 February
Welcome to the live blog coverage of Thursday's matches in the EHF Champions League Men.
Courtney Gahan here to take you through the afternoon lead-up to a big night, with five clashes coming up, including the Match of the Week.
- 17:00 CET: Motor vs Aalborg
- 18:45 CET: Szeged vs Kielce
- 18:45 CET: Nantes vs Kiel
- 20:45 CET: MOTW Flensburg vs PSG
- 20:45 CET Zagreb vs Veszprém
Wednesday 24 February
That wraps up our coverage of the two Wednesday matches in round 13. A lot more to come on Thursday, when the first game throws off at 17:00 CET for an exciting night of handball, highlighted by MOTW between Flensburg and PSG at 20:45 CET!
Thanks for joining tonight and our traditional day closer is the gallery with the best pics from the night:
Celje lost to Barça, but there are a lot of positives to take from this match for the Slovenian champions:
I am really satisfied that we played very well in the first half. We were aggressive and our discipline in attack was good. We knew that the second half would be tougher. I am proud of my team that we were behind but we fought through. We have been playing really well in the last games and have shown really good character on court.
Read how group B winners Barça never really shrugged off seventh-ranked Celje, but still took both points home from Slovenia tonight:
So we have two comeback wins tonight: Barça did it at Celje after Vardar did it in their 'away' game against Elverum earlier. This is what Vardar head coach Stevce Alushovski said after that match:
We were more focused in the last minutes of the game. We are more experienced than the Elverum team at crucial moments like this. In the last six minutes, my players showed winning character, which deserves big respect.
RESULT | RK Celje Pivovarna Laško vs Barça 29:32 (17:16)
Great effort by Celje, but they can't keep the points in Slovenia tonight. In other words: Barça keep doing what they have been doing all season - winning.
Key reason why this match is as close at it is:
Barça goalie Kevin Møller is cheering. His save has just prevented Celje from equalising again. This match is far from over!
This is how Barça got going in the second half:
That is how quickly it all can change: Barça turn up the heat against Celje and start the second half with a 5:0 run. Head coach Xavi Pascual sees that his Barça now seem to gain control over this match.
This is just one the six first-half goals from Celje's Domen Novak - and what a beauty it is!
HALF-TIME | RK Celje Pivovarna Laško vs Barça 17:16
Are we heading towards a major upset tonight?! Celje hold a 17:16 lead over Barça, who have won all previous group phase matches this season.
It is the day of the Domens so far: Domen Novak scores six for Celje, Domen Makuc five for Barça.
Class save from Kevin Møller this:
What. A. Start.
Barça's Domen Makuc scores five goals from five attempts in the opening quarter against his former teammates of Celje. Pure class!
First 10 minutes done and dusted, and... Celje are leading Barça!
Read how Vardar used a strong finish to overcome a strong challenge from Elverum and win their duel 35:32 earlier tonight:
Now get ready for our second match tonight: Celje fight for the points against Barça, who have already secured top spot in the group.
Here are some nice-to-know stuff before the match in Slovenia:
- Barça are already the confirmed group winners with the maximum of 24 points from 12 matches; Celje are seventh with six points
- Barça won the reverse fixture at home by 42:28
- in 15 previous duels, Barça won 11 times and Celje four; Celje's last win over Barça came nearly 16 years ago - a 34:31 home victory in April 2005
- Celje only won one of six home matches of this season, against Zagreb
- two of Barça’s Slovenian players, Domen Makuc and Blaz Janc, previously played for Celje
RESULT | Elverum Handball vs HC Vardar 1961 32:35 (20:17)
Well done to Vardar! They come from three goals behind at half-time to beat Elverum by three.
Timur Dibirov with nine goals and Goce Georgievski with six are the leading scorers for Vardar; Dominik Mathe and Josef Pujol each score five for Elverum.
ICMYI - We can watch Vardar's very first goal of the match over and over again!
Another team timeout for Vardar. They have closed the gap to Elverum to two goals (24:22) so all to play for with more than 20 minutes left on the clock.
When Timur Dibirov scores six goals in one half, you know there should be at least one of his trademark twisted wrist shots among them...
...so, here you go:
HALF-TIME | Elverum Handball vs HC Vardar 1961 20:17
Elverum found themselves three down early on in the match against Vardar (9:6) but they have turned the tide and now lead by three at half-time.
What is in propect for the second half?
Top safe by Elverum's Thorsten Fries:
Team timeout Vardar! Elverum lead 14:12, despite five goals from Vardar wing Timur Dibirov, so time for Stevce Alushovski to make some adjustments and give a quick pep talk.
It is 6:5 for Elverum against Vardar in just under nine minutes. Seems we are in for another true goal treat tonight.
Elverum and Vardar will get round 13 going in 45 minutes from now.
Here are some interesting facts about this game between the Nos. 7 and 8 in group A:
- the sides also met in Skopje last Sunday, and drew 34:34
- Sunday's game was the first they played against each other in EHF Champions League history
- Vardar are last in the group with four points while Elverum have five, though the Norwegian side have already played one game more.
- Vardar's No. 1 goalkeeper Borko Ristovski was replaced by Robin Cantegrel and Marko Kizic last week, who both delivered good performances
We will visit Slovenia for our second match tonight: Celje vs Barça, throwing off at 20:45 CET. Barça have become kind of The Untouchables this season as they just keep on winning.
Barça have already locked up top spot in group B. But don't expect them to take things easy against Celje, who are still fighting to get into the top six for a play-off berth.
Take a look at the group B standings before Celje vs Barça tonight:
Round 13 action starts at 18:45 CET in... Skopje. Officially it's Elverum's home game this time, but they play their match again in Vardar's arena - in a repeat of Sunday's match, which ended in 34:34.
Are we up for another close and high-scoring game?
Here is how the standings in group A look ahead of Elverum vs Vardar:
Before we have a closer look at tonight's matches, let's throw some light on the big one in round 13: Thursday's Match of the Week between Flensburg and PSG.
You will get all the latest on this match here tomorrow. To get already in the mood, I recommend you to read an interview from EHF journalist Björn Pazen with Flensburg's Mads Mensah. He teamed up with PSG's Mikkel Hansen to win the world title with Denmark last moth - but tomorrow they will be opponents in MOTW:
Good afternoon! We are just three hours away from the start of the penultimate round in the group phase of the EHF Champions League Men 2020/21.
The schedule for round 13 provides us with seven matches in total on Wednesday and Thursday. The following two matches are coming up tonight:
- 18:45 CET: Elverum Handball vs HC Vardar 1961 in group A
- 20:45 CET: RK Celje Pivovarna Laško vs Barça in group B
You find previews on all matches here: