Zagreb beat Brest to end 641-day wait for win
Finally, the wait is over for HC PPD Zagreb. The Croatian side recorded its first EHF Champions League win in 641 days on Wednesday, beating HC Meshkov Brest 31:24. It was their first victory after 23 matches.
Zagreb kept their hopes of reaching the play-offs alive, closing the gap to sixth-ranked HC Vardar 1961 to just one point.
HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) 31:24 (14:14)
- including the 2020/21 quarter-final, Meshkov have not won in their last 10 Champions League matches, and have claimed only one point
- Zagreb were ahead by 9:5, before Meshkov managed to level at 10:10
- the match remained balanced until the score of 24:22; Zagreb extended the gap decisively to 27:22, with Matej Hrstic scoring the crucial goals
- one key to success was the goalkeepers' performances: Dino Slavic and Metej Mandic saved 13 shots, the Brest duo Ilya Usik and Viachaslau Saldatsenka only eight
- Ivan Cupic (eight for Zagreb) and Jaka Malus (six for Brest) were the top scorers
- Croatian Meshkov goalkeeper Ivan Pesic did not face his former club, as he has joined TVB Stuttgart with immediate effect and will move to HBC Nantes for next season
Happy-end to a terrible run
The 2020/21 season Champions League season was by far the worst for HC PPD Zagreb - the record Croatian champions lost all 14 groups matches and then had to cancel both play-offs against Flensburg due to the COVID19 situation. The current season started the same, though Zagreb were much closer to their opponents. They tied twice and were defeated five times. But they ended that losing run, which had started 641 days ago after their 31:30 win against Aalborg on 22 February 2020
Congrats to my players. It really wasn't easy to play with all this weight on our shoulders. We fought really hard once again and finally managed to gain this win. I feel like we were not playing as well as last week, but we managed to deliver a splendid defensive performance later in the second which helped us secure this win. This means a lot, but we have to keep up the good work, keep on pushing. We haven't done anything yet.