Six SEHA - Gazprom League teams were in action over the course of the weekend. Some of them achieved positive results, whereas some had opponents that were simply too strong. Check out how they ended the 1st round...
Group A: IFK Kristianstad- PPD Zagreb 28:28 (14:16)
PPD Zagreb and Meshkov Brest were the first two SEHA teams to play their Champions League matches. The Croatians were in the lead for most of the game, but Kristianstad managed to rescue a point. Stipe Mandalinic scored 8 times, new man Zarko Markovic added 7. Zlatko Horvat had a good chance to win the match for PPD Zagreb in the final seconds of the match, but saw his shot go wide. All in all, PPD Zagreb showed a lot of promise coming into the season. The team's injured players list got even longer, as Domagoj Pavlovic suffered a thumb injury on his right hand and could be out for as long as two months. The Croatian champions play again on Tuesday, a classic match against their rivals Celje in Round 4 of the SEHA- Gazprom League.
Group B: Meshkov Brest- PGE Vive Kielce 28:25 (15:11)
The Belarusians dominated during the entire match, not giving the lead away at any moment. It's a fantastic result and an even better performance against one of the strongest teams in Europe, which should give Meshkov confidence to achieve big things this season. They started the season with only win in the first three rounds in SEHA - Gazprom League, so this victory should encourage the team to do better. It was genuinely a team win against the Polish side, as 9 players appeared on the scoresheet for the hosts. Igropulo, Shkurinskiy and Nikulenkau scored 5 each to lead the squad. Next up it's Dinamo for Meshkov!
Group B: RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko- Telekom Veszprem HC 31:39 (18:16)
The result suggests a comfortable victory for Veszprem, but it was far from that. The Slovenian champions were in the lead up until the start of the second half. In the end Veszprem scored a few unanswered goals to make the margin bigger than it should have been. Celje played very well in the first half, but just couldn't keep up with Veszprem the entire match. Mlakar was once again the top scorer with 8, Malus chipped in with 6 goals. On the other side Lekai was a stand-out performer for Veszprem as he scored 9 times. Celje are traveling to Zagreb next week, playing in Round 4 Derby of the Round in the SEHA- Gazprom League.
Group D: Montpellier HB- Metalurg 32:22 (19:11)
Right from the start it was obvious that the star-studded French giants were a better team than Metalurg. 13 players scored for Montpellier, legendary Guigou was their top scorer with 6 goals. A young team like Metalurg will use this game as a learning experience to become better in the future. Jaganjac scored 6, Kuzmanovski 5 but it wasn't nearly enough to win the match against a team that has players like Guigou, Porte, Fabregas, Gerard and many more. The Macedonians will try to bounce back on Wednesday when they travel to Novi Sad to play Vojvodina who are yet to win a match in the SEHA - Gazprom League.
Group C: Gorenje Velenje- Ademar Leon 23:22 (12:10)
A good all around performance for Gorenje en route to a great victory. Medved and Grebenc led the Slovenian vice-champions scoring 6 goals each. It was an interesting match, as the Spainish side didn't get the first lead until the very late point. However, Gorenje didn't let the 2 points slip and have managed to win it despite Ademar Leon being the favorites going into the match. Gorenje will look to carry this momentum into the next match against Nexe in Nasice.
Group A: Orlen Wisla Plock - Vardar 22:26 (9:13)
The European champions started their Champions League campaign with a solid victory against Wisla Plock. They have been in the lead right from the initial throw-off and didn't look back ever since. 10 players scored for the Macedonian squad and that is something the coach Raul Gonzalez has to be proud of. It's once again clear that Vardar's depth is going to be their main strength this season. Borozan scored five, meanwhile Kristopans added four to lead the champions to that all-important first win to start the title defence. Vardar are hoping to continue their fine form on Tuesday when they host Tatran. Vardar is yet to lose in the SEHA - Gazprom League this season.
Three wins, two losses and a draw in the first round of the Champions League. Knowing that there are no easy matches in this competition, this is a good result that confirms the quality of SEHA teams! Handball is back next week, starting on Tuesday!