SUMMARY: Magdeburg, Zagreb, Montpellier bag first points; Kielce take MOTW

ER 2837 (1)
EHF / Eric Willemsen

Four matches on Wednesday and four on Thursday were the ingredients for round 3 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2023/24, highlighted by Industria Kielce beating Paris Saint-Germain Handball 30:29 in the MOTW in Poland.


Thursday 28 September 2023


Here ends our coverage of round 3 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League – and three is somehow the central number here:

  • three teams remain unbeaten: Kiel, Barça, and GOG;
  • three teams have now got their first points: Magdeburg, Zagreb, and Montpellier;
  • and three teams are still on zero points: Pelister, Plock, and Celje.

The competition is heading into a one-week break now, so we return on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 October. And mind you, the round 4 schedule includes the clash between the last two unbeaten teams in group B: Barça and GOG!

So, make sure to join us again in two weeks' time (but there is, of course, a whole lot of other handball going on in the meantime). For now, it is goodnight and scroll through the best images from the night in our gallery.


A reminder you can watch three-minute highlight videos of GOG's convincing 36:30 win over Veszprém and all other round 3 games on our Home of Handball YouTube channel


It was a night of goals galore, with six of the teams scoring 30 or more goals. But a lot of shots were also stopped, so here is an homage to all goalkeepers:


For your convenience, here is the full overview of round 3 results:


Round 3 is done and dusted! Read what happened tonight in the four matches that wrapped up round 3, in the round review written by Adrian Costeiu:

22:29 RESULT | Montpellier vs Plock 30:28 (14:15)

Montpellier have to dig deep in the closing stages, coming from three goals behind, but they manage to turn the tide and are rewarded with their first points of the season.

And for Plock, yet another match they lose after having led for a substantial part of the game...


Crazy scenes in Montpellier! Now the hosts are two goals in the lead, 29:27 and Plock desperate to get the points they need. Can Xavi Sabaté find the right solution for the last two minutes?


Finally some free-flowing play from Montpellier and the hosts have caught up with Plock again: Ahmed Hesham scores back-to-back goals and it is 27:27. Into the last six minutes...


Worrying times for Patrice Canayer in his last (of many, many) season on the Montpellier bench. Plock go three ahead and just over 11 minutes left to play. Remember, both teams entered this match on zero points.


Same picture in Montpellier as before the break: Plock are leading most of the time, but the Polish visitors cannot open a substantial gap. On the other hand, Montpellier never really get going this match; they stay in touch with Plock but struggle to get level, let alone take the lead.


GOG are keeping up with the multiple EHF Champions League winners Kiel and Barça: this trio are the only three unbeaten teams left in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2023/24.

Coach Kasper Jørgensen after tonight's 36:30 win over Veszprém:

20230928 CLM R3 Live Blog Quote Gog
Veszprém are one of the favourites, so it is a big win for us. We had many good individual moments today; it was first of all a very good day for the team. Of course it’s a very important victory for us. We are happy for our six points in the first three matches.
Kasper Jørgensen
GOG head coach

21:24 HALF-TIME | Montpellier vs Plock 14:15

Plock have been ahead of Montpellier for most of the time, but never by more than two goals. Far from decisive, also. Plock's Lovro Mihic with a nice six from six in the first half; can he keep it up after the break?


Montpellier will need more such Rémi Desbonnet saves, as Plock are currently leading 13:11 in the closing minutes of the first half.


A quite tense affair in Montpellier so far, as both teams are well aware of what is at stake. Montpellier and Plock are level after 14 minutes: five all.


What a way for Zagreb to bag their first points of the season! Head coach Andrija Nikolic admits he has not seen this one coming:

20230928 CLM R3 Live Blog Quote Zagreb
I have to be completely honest and say we didn't expect it to be this easy. We were well aware of how good their transition is, and once we managed to slow it down, and basically take their strongest weapon away from them, we gave ourselves a chance to win this one.
Andrija Nikolic
HC Zagreb head coach


Seven games done, one game to go: we head to the South of France where Montpellier host Plock in the last game of round 3. Both teams seek their first points of the season, so this duel is just as crucial as the two previous group B games we have seen tonight.


Sometimes the goals are great. Sometimes the assists are even better:


Three intense matches tonight leave us with only three teams in the entire group phase that are still beaten: Kiel in group A, and Barça and GOG in group B.

And guess what?! In round 4 (after a one-week break) it will be Barça vs GOG on Thursday 12 October!

20:19 RESULTS |

_ Zagreb vs Kolstad 31:20 (17:10)
_ Porto vs Barça 30:38 (15:19)
_ GOG vs Veszprém 36:30 (18:14)


Not just Zagreb in group A, but also the group B games are decided: Barça are still eight up in Porto (28:36), and GOG deny Veszprém a comeback (35:19) with less than three minutes on the clocks.


When Zagreb find their stride:


Shoutout to Zagreb, who are coming off a tough season start but are now close to claiming their first win – and a big one, as they lead Kolstad by a double-digit figure: 26:16. Not many people, at least outside Croatia, will have seen that one coming...


Veszprém stay in touch with GOG as the four-goal gap from half-time does not get bigger... but also not smaller: 26:22. Aaron Mensing with eight and Nicolai Pedersen with seven goals play a key role for the Danish hosts.


Wow, that is going fast! Barça have doubled their lead in no time to go eight goals up (25:17) in Porto. Is there anything Carlos Resende can tell his players in order to turn this around?


Interesting first halves! Barça stay calm in the sold-out Dragão Arena and get their nose really in front near the end of the first half. Porto will be looking for another second-half comeback today – but Barça are not Celje. Portuguese international Luis Frade and Slovenian wing Blaz Janc lead for Barça with five goals each.

In the other games, GOG have carved out a four-goal lead over Veszprém in the other duel between two unbeaten group B teams. Aaron Mensing with six goals has been making a difference in the opening half, also goalkeeper Tobias Thulin with nine saves. 

In group A, Zagreb have opened a seven-goal gap on Kolstad (17:10), which should mean a big step towards the Croatian side's first points this season.

19:24 HALF-TIME |

_ Zagreb vs Kolstad 17:10
_ Porto vs Barça 15:19
_ GOG vs Veszprém 18:14


Elsewhere, Zagreb are enjoying a strong start – and a three-goal lead (13:10) – against Kolstad, despite Sigvaldi Gudjonsson's five goals from five attempts for the competition debutants from Norway.


Team timeout Veszprém. Momir Ilic clearly not happy with the proceedings in Gudme, as he appears to point out that some of his players are not holding their position correctly. GOG don't worry and take advantage for a 13:9 lead.


A full house and a rocket in Porto: 


In Denmark, GOG are two goals up on Veszprém (9:7), as Alexander Blonz and Aaron Mensing have both  netted three tines already in this high-pace game.


What a start in the Dragão Arena! First Porto go 4:2 up, but Barça hit back right away with a 3:0 run, concluded by Portuguese international Luis Frade, to lead 5:4.


All matches are streamed live on EHFTV (yes, there is a multi-split screen function so you can watch all games at once) but geo-restriction apply to certain regions due to local broadcasters rights.


The third match starting at 18:45 CEST is from group A: Zagreb against Kolstad. The Croatian champions are eager to get their first points on the board, while Kolstad want to get back to winning ways after their triumphant debut in Pelister in round 1, followed by the reality check at home against Kielce last week.


The second group B match at 18:45 CEST also features two teams that have collected the maximum four points so far: GOG and Veszprém.

GOG changed their head coach between round 1 and 2, bringing in Mikkel Voigt, but the team were not distracted by it, added another victory thanks to a 10-goal outing from Morten Olsen in Plock last week.

Veszprém set the tone in round 1 by defeating Magdeburg in the German side's first international game as defending champions, and came from behind to see off Montpellier last week.

This should be an entertaining and likely high-scoring game between the two teams that scored the most goals in group B after two rounds: GOG (68) and Veszprém (66).  


The clash in Portugal is a promising one – and one that no Porto fan wants to miss. No wonder the arena has been sold out for days, as Barça can prepare themselves for a hot night. Both teams are on four points, but they got to their wins in contrasting styles.

Porto had two one-goal wins, and especially lasts week's triumph in Celje will be remembered for a long time. The blue-white team were outplayed for much of the match, were up to nine goals down, but somehow managed to put the game upside-down before coming away with an incredible 30:29 win.

And Barça? They had two clear wins against two two-time EHF Champions League winners: 30:25 at Montpellier, and 32:20 (no typo..!) against Magdeburg.


It is Thursday evening, 18:00 CEST: it is time for the second part of round 3 in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2023/24. Welcome back to the live blog!

We have four matches for you, starting with a triple-pack in Zagreb, Porto and Gudme at 18:45 CEST, followed by the round closer in Montpellier at 20:45 CEST.

A lot of focus will be on the two group B matches in the early time slot, as those feature the four teams that have all opened their campaigns with two straight wins: Porto vs Barça and GOG vs Veszprém.

Wednesday 27 September 2023


Here ends our coverage of Wednesday's matches in round 3. Of course we are back for the remainder on Thursday:

So, it is goodbye for now and join us again here on the live blog on Thursday – same time, same place. Enjoy the best pictures from the day in our gallery:


Read what happened on the opening night of round 3 in the day review written by EHF journalist Björn Pazen:


Four matches tonight, each with their own story: Kielce beat PSG 30:29 in Match of the Week to get their first home win and hand the French side their first defeat; Kiel win 23:20 in Pelister to remain the only group A team that have not dropped a point yet; Szeged defeat previously unbeaten Aalborg 34:27 for their first points; and Magdeburg hit back from their back-to-back losses with a 39:23 drubbing of Celje, their biggest ever win in the EHF Champions League.


Celebrations in Magdeburg. The win, though not unexpected, comes as a relief, certainly after the struggles in the opening 15 minutes against Celje tonight. 


"Danke für die geile Stimmung!" – Thanks for the great atmosphere!

Magdeburg thank their fans on X after breaking a two-decade old club record in the EHF Champions League. For the team, though, the two points are more valuable than any statistical highlights.

22:21 RESULT | Magdeburg vs Celje 39:23 (20:13)

That is the answer you would expect from a defending champion. Two disappointing defeats to start the season with, followed by a club record 16-goal win to get back on track.

ÓmarI Ingi Magnússon with eight from eight and Matthias Musche with seven from seven (all in the first half) are the leading scorers as Magdeburg finally open their points account in 2023/24.


We saw it in Aalborg in round 2, do we see it in Magdeburg in round 3?

Aalborg got the biggest win in their EHF Champions League history last week, and Magdeburg are on the way to break their club record as well tonight, stretching their lead against Celje.

Magdeburg's biggest win so far is +14 from a 33:19 win in 2001 and a 38:24 win in 2003, both in home matches against Vardar Vatrost from Skopje.


Team timeout Magdeburg. Leading 28:18 after 15 minutes in the second half against Celje, head coach Bennet Wiegert knows the first points will get on the board for the titleholders tonight. Still, he urges his players to stay focused.


Huge lead for Magdeburg (24:15 at the moment), but certainly not every chance is a goal against Celje's Rok Zaponsek:


Break in Magdeburg, so you have time to watch the highlights of the MOTW between Kielce and PSG on our Home of Handball YouTube channel...

21:24 HALF-TIME | Magdeburg vs Celje 20:13

A slow start again for Magdeburg, but the tide turned halfway through the first half. With a big role for Matthias Musche, who is on seven from seven, the titleholders build a commanding seven-goal lead over Celje.


The Pick Arena exploded tonight as a passionate Szeged team handed Aalborg their first defeat in convincing manner: 34:27. This is what Szeged coach Krisztián Kárpáti told media after the game in Hungary:

20230927 CLM R3 Live Blog Quote Szeged
I have never experienced such a feeling in my coaching career before. We worked a lot to progress mentally and physically, to step forward from the loser role and leave the field as winners. It is a fantastic feeling that we succeeded. The guys played with a big heart, and the spectators created a sensational atmosphere.
Krisztián Kárpáti
OTP Bank - PICK Szeged head coach


Like a diesel engine, it has taken Magdeburg some time to really warm up in the match against Celje, but the titleholders are on a 6:0 run now, turning a 6:8 deficit into a 12:8 lead.


Today's early results make clear that only one team from group A will head into round 4 still unbeaten: Kiel. Previously unbeaten Aalborg and PSG suffer their first defeats, but Kiel add another win – though it has been far from easy in Bitola. Faroese youngster Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu among Kiel's leading scorers tonight, with five.


Hm, so far it has not been the season start Magdeburg had been hoping for. Back-to-back defeats in rounds 1 and 2, and just over 10 minutes into their home game in round 3 against Celje, they find themselves two goals down again: 7:5.


No time to waste – tune in to EHFTV again for the last match of today, as defending champions Magdeburg host Celje in search for their first points of the season.


Back to MOTW... Let's hear from Alex Dujshebaev, who missed the second half with what looked like a muscle injury, and Kamil Syprzak with their first court-side reactions:

20230927 CLM R3 Live Blog Quote Kielce
For sure it was a great game against Paris, they are also a very complete, very good team. We are so happy because this was an important game for us ... we proved that we are a very big team, that we can do everything, that we can win without a lot of players.
Alex Dujshebaev
Industria Kielce right back
20230927 CLM R3 Live Blog Quote Psg
Unfortunately we couldn't manage to win. We knew it is tough, it is really hard to win here, but we were trying to do our best and we were not that far away. But a loss is a loss. For them it was important to win tonight, but for us also. That is why I am sad, because we couldn't do it.
Kamil Syprzak
Paris Saint-Germain Handball line player


What a match for Kielce, what a match for Arkadiusz Moryto. Playing in an unusual role for the second part of MOTW, replacing Alex Dujshebaev on the right back position, he is a key to Kielce's success tonight – and a worthy winner of the Player of the Match award.


A lot of talk about the MOTW, of course, but look what Szeged have done tonight. Led by nine more goals from Mario Sostaric, raising his total for the season to 26 goals after three rounds, they beat Aalborg, arguably the strongest team from the two opening weeks, in a convincing way: 34:27.

Combined with the win for Kielce and subsequent loss for PSG, this also throws the standings in group A wide open.

20:26 RESULTS |

_ MOTW Kielce vs PSG 30:29 (16:15)
_ Pelister vs Kiel 20:23 (9:11)
_ Szeged vs Aalborg 34:27 (20:16)


Big result for Kielce this. Not just the win over PSG, but also the fact that they have vastly improved since their first home match this season, which they lost to Aalborg just two weeks ago.

Also, they handled the second-half absence of Alex Dujshebaev very well, will Arkadiusz Moryto stepping up to the task and playing back instead of wing.


Four goals up, three minutes left: Kielce are pleasing the home crowd in the sold-out Hala Legionów this MOTW. Match still not over, but...


OK, no more predictions on the live blog... Just when we believed Kielce have opened a probably decisive five-goal advantage, PSG claw their way back into it again, just like in the later stages of the first half.

Interesting stuff, and all to play for at 25:23 with just over 10 minutes left in this MOTW.


Elsewhere, Pelister are keeping in close touch with Kiel, only one goal in it halfway through the second half: 18:17. New arrival Bogdan Radivojevic crucial for Pelister with five from five.


Kielce go five up on PSG: 23:18. The mountain to climb gets ever higher for PSG this MOTW; Szymon Sicko and Arkadiusz Moryto with six goals each for Kielce.

Remember, no match between Kielce and PSG have been won by the visiting team since April 2018; at the moment, that stat doesn't look likely to change tonight.


Aalborg closed the gap to Szeged in the beginning of the second half but the hosts are back to a three-goal lead. Good stuff from the Hungarian side after their disappointment of getting zero points from two matches so far.


With Alex Dujshebaev out of the MOTW for now with an apparent hamstring issue, wing Arkadiusz Moryto is taking over on the right back position – and scored his fifth of the night right away as Kielce go three up on PSG again: 18:15.


The first half of MOTW belonged to Kielce... for most part, that is. Near the end, and after the arrival of Sadou N'Tanzi, PSG managed to get more grip on the game, also because of some sloppy play by the hosts.

While Kielce were four up and seemed cruising at some points, this is now everybody's game. Just as we expected.

19:26 HALF-TIME |

_ MOTW Kielce vs PSG 16:15
_ Pelister vs Kiel 9:11
_ Szeged vs Aalborg 20:16


Team timeout Kielce. Coach Talant Dujshebaev not happy as his team have squandered half of the four-goal lead over PSG, 15:13.


Not a high-scoring game in Bitola, as Kiel lead Pelister by just 7:6 in the closing minutes of the first half.


Well, make that a four-goal gap for Kielce, as Arkadiusz Moryto makes it 13:9 for the hosts against PSG. Kielce stand defensively strong, while the French side are clearly searching for a solution to make up for the absence of Luc Steins.


Elsewhere, Szeged have gone in front against Aalborg 13:12, with Mario Sostaric keeping his terrific scoring rate from the previous week, already with five from five tonight.


Kielce are the first to go two goals up in the MOTW: it is 7:5 against PSG within 10 minutes.


Let's go! All matches are live on EHFTV, and the MOTW in Kielce comes with English commentary from Chris O'Reilly.


Almost ready to go! PSG coach Raul Gonzalez gives final instructions to his team before the MOTW in Kielce. By the way, PSG have to do without centre back Luc Steins, who has not travelled with the team to Poland as he expects to become a father any time soon.


Dziękujemy Bert! Thank you Bert!

Kielce will use the MOTW opportunity and the full arena tonight to give Bertus Servaas a proper goodbye: Servaas has stepped down after more than two decades in charge as club president of Kielce, and behind the scenes he has had a massive impact on the Polish side's rise to the top of European club handball.


The third match starting at 18:45 CEST features Pelister, who looked set for a difficult season after their clear defeats against Nordic opponents Kolstad and Aalborg in the first two rounds. And things probably won't mich easier tonight, with four-time EHF Champions League winners Kiel coming to town.

Kiel might be far from flawless in their domestic Bundesliga with two defeats in their first five games, but in Europe they have been cruising so far.


What a start to round 3: apart from the MOTW, we also see Pelister hosting Kiel, and Szeged taking on Aalborg at 18:45 CEST, all in group A. We close the night with titleholders Magdeburg seeking their first points in group B, at home against Celje at 20:45 CEST.

Aalborg are enjoying a fabulous start to their campaign, with a win in Kielce and a record 15-goal victory against Pelister. Szeged were unlucky with two close defeats – time to turn the tide tonight?


Kielce and PSG throw off in 50 minutes for their MOTW. Here is a small reminder of what happened last time both teams met:


"He might not be able to speak French yet, but Kent Robin Tønnesen has been feeling at home in Paris already," writes EHF journalist Kevin Domas in this feature, in which the PSG right back looks forward to the clash with Kielce in the MOTW (in less than two hours from now!):


Some more interesting facts ahead of the MOTW between Kielce and PSG:

  • before their semi-final last June, the last seven duels between Kielce and PSG since April 2018 were all won by the home team
  • PSG coach Raul Gonzalez worked as assistant of Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev for eight seasons: at Ciudad Real (2005-11) and Atletico Madrid (2011-13); Raul Gonzalez’s first job as head coach came at HC Vardar, where Talant Dujshebaev’s son Alex – currently also at Kielce – was one of the players in his squad
  • Kielce lost their CL 2023/24 season opener against Aalborg Håndbold before beating Kolstad Handball in round 2; PSG started the season with two wins, against OTP Bank-Pick Szeged and HC Zagreb
  • two Kielce players had their professional debut at PSG in the past: Benoit Kounkoud and Dylan Nahi; a third French member of the Kielce squad has no past at PSG but played for HBC Nantes: Nicolas Tournat
  • last week against Kolstad, Nicolas Tournat scored the 7,000th goal for Kielce in the club’s CL history
  • a Polish international was PSG’s best scorer in the CL last season: line player Kamil Syprzak (103 goals).
  • both teams played at an EHF FINAL4 six times; none of the three CL finals Kielce played were
    decided after 60 minutes: in 2016, they beat Veszprém in a shoot-out; in 2022, they lost to Barça in a shootout; in 2023, they lost to SC Magdeburg in extra time; PSG played and lost one CL final – against Vardar
  • in their CL history, Kielce have won 10 matches more than PSG (137 vs 127), but they have also played 44 matches more (232 vs 188)


For Kielce against PSG the result will aways be hard to predict. Well, maybe you can say that a draw is highly unlikely, since none of the 42 matches Kielce have ever played against teams from France in European club
competitions ended in a draw; also, none of the 18 results of PSG against Polish opponents was a draw. Remarkable!

If we narrow it down to just Kielce and PSG, we see that the French side lead the lead-to-head 7-5, but that the Polish side won their most important encounter: the 2016 final in Cologne.


They played the final in 2016. They played the semi-final in 2023. And they play the MOTW tonight at 18:45 CEST: Kielce and PSG. No wonder the Hala Legionów has been completely sold out for this one!

(If you didn't get your ticket, the MOTW is also live on EHFTV.)


We start round 3 with a Polish-French matchup (Kielce vs PSG in MOTW) and we end also with a French-Polish duel tomorrow (Montpellier vs Plock). Here is this week's full match schedule:


16 elite teams, eight promising matches, two entertaining nights full of handball fun: welcome to the live blog for round 3 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League!

It is still early days, of course, but all teams will have a proper feeling by now how they have started into the new season. For seven teams, there has been not much to complain about so far, as they have started with two wins from two matches.

So, who will do well in round 3? Here is our round preview written by EHF journalists Björn Pazen and Kevin Domas:

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