Zagreb keep momentum going against Szeged
Before the winter break, HC PPD Zagreb had built up good momentum in the group phase of the EHF Champions League Men 2021/22, having taken five points in their last three games.
It seems like Santa Claus did not steal any of the Croatian side's good ideas, as Zagreb beat Pick Szeged 26:24 on Thursday night to take their third consecutive win in front of their fans.
Zagreb roared in the first half but were much tighter after the break as they prevented Szeged from coming back to claim the points.
- five goals was the maximum advantage for Zagreb in a first half that the Croatian side clearly dominated. Taking an early lead, the hosts remained on top throughout the first part of the game
- goalkeeper Mirko Alilovic came in between Szeged's posts at the break — and that almost changed everything for his team
- thanks to his seven saves in the second half, the Croatian goalkeeper put Szeged back on the right track, allowing them to close the gap on the scoreboard
- Szeged had five opportunities to make the score even within the last 15 minutes but were unable to turn things around
- with this win, Zagreb are up to sixth place in the group standings, while Szeged remain fourth, with three rounds left
Zagreb's confidence is unshakeable
Zagreb picked up just one point in the first seven rounds of this season's group phase, but the Croatian side have already earned six points since the midway point. Indeed, everyone can see that they are a completely different team compared to what they were a few months ago.
After a storming start on Thursday night, the hosts never panicked when they saw their opponents come back into the game. Thanks to their recruits from last summer, Zagreb now have plenty of experience within their ranks. And experience is helpful to retain confidence when you have got it.
This was a big win against a great team. It's always hard to get things going the right way after the national team break, but we were fighting to the best of our capabilities until the very end. We've managed to minimise turnovers and mistakes by having the right answer for every change they implemented, especially in the second half.
This was a well-deserved win for Zagreb here today. The beginning was the key — we were way too slow and not aggressive enough. We simply can't afford to look like this. In the second half we had a chance to level the game, but we failed to do that. We were expecting points here in Zagreb, but it is what it is.