Vardar has finished regular part of the season with a victory over CO Zagreb (33:24). Home-team's defense was outstanding in the second half and goalkeeper Inaki malumbres had too many saves for Zagreb to hope for a positive result in Skopje. Teams will meet again soon, on SEHA GSS league's Final Four semi-final on April 11th in Novi Sad.
Vardar will remain third, no matter of the outcome of the match between Partizan and Meshkov. Vardar and Zagreb have already met twice on final tournaments. First time Vardar was better in Zagreb 'Arena' in semi-final and last year Zagreb has managed to take revenge in Skopje and beat them in final.
CO Zagreb came to Skopje without few of their important players but it did not make Vardar's job much easier. 5 minutes before the half time whistle it was 10:10 but Vardar has managed to jump on plus three with a few goals from Brumen and Karacic. In the second half it was a completely different story. Inaki malumbres was outstanding between Vardar's bars with eight saves in 10 minutes which meant the crash of hopes for Croatian champion. Soon Vardar had +10 (26:16), then got a bit too relaxed and allowed Zagreb to finish the game with 'only' -9.
Karacic was Vardar's best scorer in the end with 6, just as much as Stepancic scored for CO Zagreb.
Raul Gonzales Gutierez, Vardar's coach:
- This was a very important game for Vardar, maybe not so competitive because both teams have already secured their place on F4. It seemed to be a friendly match but we've used it well to try some new tactical ideas and give younger players chance. Great way to prepare for CL's clashes against HSV.
Igor Karacic, Vardar's player:
- I think that we played very good game tonight, which is a good sign after the bad period that we've had recently. We should do our best to repeat this second-half performance against HSV in the CL. I'm looking forward to our new meeting with Zagreb, on SEHA league's semi-finals. I think it will be much more competitive than it was today.
- We've played today against the best team in the competition and they have showed that tonight. I think Vardar has best chances to win SEHA league's title again. I believe they can even surprise HSV in EHF's CL. We have a lot of injured players and we have to solve these problems before F4 and our domestic championship. I expect a totally different game between these two opponents in Novi Sad.
Jerko Matulic, CO Zagreb's player:
- Vardar deserved to win tonight, they were much better team and they've used our weaknesses. I agree with my coach that we've lost because we could not run during the second period, because we couldn’t make rotation. I believe that Vardar has chances in Champions League against Hamburg, and I'd like to wish them luck.