Szeged take points in historic night for Vardar's Dibirov
Pick Szeged overtook Aalborg in their preliminary group ranking to finish the first half of the group phase in third position thanks to a hard-fought 34:31 victory against Vardar on Thursday mainly thanks to the unstoppable duo of Sebastian Frimmel and Kent-Robin Tönnesen.
The North Macedonian side tasted defeat for the fourth time in a row, remaining on five points and in sixth, still three points ahead of Zagreb but the match will be remembered as the night Vardar club legend Timur Dibirov made history by scoring his 1,000th Champions League goal.
Pick Szeged (HUN) vs HC Vardar 1961 (MKD) 34:31 (17:15)
- Home side were constantly ahead in the first half, their biggest advance four goals (13:9), a 4:0 run from Vardar then saw the visitors draw level (13:13, 25th minute)
- Ante Gadza’s fourth goal for Vardar to make it (21:22) saw the game close to turning around
- Pick then had their strongest period forging ahead (28:24)
- Left wing Sebastian Frimmel was top scorer for the hosts, netting nine times, one more goal ahead of Tönnesen
- Timur Dibirov was the best Vardar scorer with seven goals, including his 1,000th strike in the EHF Champions League
- Vardar goalkeeper Martin Tomovski won the duel between the posts against Roland Mikler by 13 to nine saves, which was a key for the comeback of the visitors
Timur Dibirov makes history
Since 2004 Timur Dibirov has constantly played in the EHF Champions League - and only for two clubs: Chekhovskie Medvedi (2004-2013) and HC Vardar (2013-present).
He was a core player of Medvedi when they made it to the first-ever VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in 2010, but his career would become even more successful with the Skopje-based team.
Together with line player Stojanche Stoilov, the Russian-born left wing steered Vardar to two EHF Champions League trophies in 2017 and 2019 and five titles in the SEHA League.
On Thursday night he added even more history to his story when his penalty (8:11) hit the net at Szeged, marking his 1,000th EHF Champions League goal and becoming the third player to ever achieve the feat, following Kiril Lazarov and Nikola Karabatic, both of whom are still active.
It was our last international game in this sensational sports hall. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to but the most important thing is that we could win.