Kiel withstand the pressure in Lillehammer
Elverum Handball had the last attack of their round 11 match in the EHF Champions League Men against THW Kiel, but when youngster Thorsten Lien failed to score, 8,532 fans in Hakons Hall in Lillehammer could not celebrate a sensational draw for the Norwegian side.
40 seconds before the buzzer, Miha Zarabec's strike ultimately earned THW Kiel a lucky 31:30 win after a close and equal fight. However, the true match winner for Kiel was goalkeeper Niklas Landin, who made 14 saves, while Sander Sagosen finished as their top scorer with six goals.
- boosted by their 10,000 fans, Elverum were never behind in the first half. The Norwegian side were ahead by three goals on three occasions — 10:7, 11:8 and 15:12
- Elverum's best weapons in attack were Swedish EHF EURO winner Eric Johansson (eight goals) and Tobias Gröndahl, who is now the top scorer in the EHF Champions League scorer with 62 goals after his four strikes against Kiel
- after the break, Kiel took their first lead after a 3:0 run put them ahead 19:17. When Patrick Wiencek netted in the 52nd minute, the German side led 30:27 and seemed on the path to victory
- Elverum never gave up, levelled the match for the first time since the 17:17 score at 30:30, before Miha Zarabec ended their hopes and secured two crucial points for THW Kiel, who still have the chance to skip the play-offs
- Kiel's coach Filip Jicha and his regular assistants all were ruled out due to Covid-19. Therefore, former THW legend Klaus-Dieter Petersen, head of Kiel's youth department, was the coach for this match, assisted by sports director Viktor Szilagyi
8,532 fans see Elverum suffer another Lillehammer defeat
It was the third time that Elverum had moved a home match to Hakons Hall in Lillehammer, and it was once again a true spectacle.
The first match played in the Olympic venue still holds the record for the most attended handball match in Norway. On that occasion, 12,377 fans saw Sander Sagosen and PSG win 25:22 against Elverum, who put up a great fight.
In between Sagosen's second victorious visit to Hakons Hall, Elverum hosted a match against Flensburg there in 2020, attended by more than 9,300 fans, but the Norwegian side lost 34:28. On Thursday night, for the third time, the fans did not see the home team win — but this time the gap was really close.
When we meet the big teams and have the chance, we play hard and I think we did a really great game in defence and attack. When you feel you have the chance for one or two points, of course you are disappointed. But, overall, I think it was a strong performance. We had a good start with the EHF Champions League tonight and we have a lot of things now to build on for the future games.
It was an amazing feeling to be back in Norway tonight. Hats off to Elverum for making this game a big handball party. It was amazing to be on the court this time, but it was a really hard game. Elverum played a strong game today, and they have a good team. I'm really proud of my team today. We stood up in a difficult time, we fought hard and we have each other's backs.