Zagreb has taken "full bag" from Belgrade! Croatian champion has won another three points in SEHA GAZPROM South Stream League with a buzzer beater scored by Stepancic to beat Partizan in front 1,500 fans in Banjica hall. Match was tight and exciting although SEHA league’s table suggested something else. Zagreb is much closer to SEHA GSS F4 after this victory, and Partizan has continued ‘black series’ of losing matches in final seconds after Vojvodina and Vardar...
First half was marked with bad defences on both sides which caused many goals. Zagreb was led by Sebetic and Sandrk, with precise Matulic from right wing position. On the other side, fast shots of right back Aleksandar Radovanovic were main problems for tall and a little bit slow Croatian players.
Zagreb had advantage until 15th minute (7:5), but then host team got new energy in Dusan Beocanin who came back to his first professional club after three years and many serious injuries. With his two goals and very good Mijailo Marsenic, who scored important pivot goals Partizan managed to catch the first lead - 8:7 (16.).
Three goals in a row for Jerko Matulic have taken Zagreb to 12:10 lead (22.). The next turnover was made by fantastic Partizan's goalkeeper Mihailo Radovanovic, who saved a few balls in a row and pushed his team to another lead - 17:15. In the last second of the first half, Luka Stepancic scored goal and announced what will happen at the end...
Partizan was in lead until 39th minute (22:20), when Zagreb's "Karate Kid", Filip Ivic closed his ‘doors’. Guests made 6:0 series in the next seven minutes - 26:22 and have totally taken over the match control.
Partizan's coach Aleksandar Brkovic reacted quickly and stopped his team’s ‘black’ series with a team-out. Marsenic scored the first goal for his team - 23:26 what was the intro to interesting finish of the match.
Zagreb had +3 last time in 52nd minute - 29:26, but stronger home team defense made a lot of problems to the attacking performance of EHF’s CL team. Jovanovic and Maticic scored for 29:28. Stipe Mandalinic has then taken his team on +2 after time out (30:28) in 57th minute.
Zagreb came to an attack at the beginning of the last minute and had 30:29 lead, but their technical mistake has provided home team a chance for draw.
Mijailo Marsenic scored an equalizer 15 seconds before the end, and when it seemed like teams were going to split points in Belgrade Luka Stepancic scored his eight goal for guest-team’s big celebration.
Luka Stepancic, right back , CO Zagreb:
- We can only be satisfied with a victory. We have been too relaxed at the start. Defense was bad, attack was better then usual, but that happens after big wins as the one last weekend. That is a part of team's growing up. I want to congratulate my boys and our rivals for a good resistance. We’ve shown everyone that despite everything this was a derby match.
Vladimir Mandic, Partizan’s left back:
- I want to congratulate Zagreb for the win. They showed why they are favorites and we’ve proved that we can play against better teams. I feel sorry that we didn't take at least a point because we’ve been pretty much equal but that’s sport.
Aleksandar Brkovic, Partizan’s head-coach:
- After 26:22 for Zagreb we didn't fall down. That is the biggest positive impression for me. I regret that thing that we’re defeated, but that is Zagreb's quality, team which is playing for EHF CL’s Last 16. We are just at the end of preparation period. Our focus is domestic championship, but we will try to get some more points in SEHA league. We didn't make it tonight, but hopefully we will on Saturday in Banja Luka.
Boris Dvorsek, CO Zagreb coach:
- I want to congratulate to all the participants of this derby. It was a really good and interesting match. Fans enjoyed, while both teams were in the lead, it was a really tight match. Fans have been fantastic. It's a pleasure to play in such an atmosphere, when we hear drums. It's better to hear drums than the voices of the coaches. Partizan have played very good, they fought until the end. But we were luckier and able to win this derby.