Europe's strongest club competition, EHF Champions League has this season given special honour to SEHA Gazprom League having 3 of its participants in CL's two strongest groups, among 16 of the best teams in Europe. Thos clubs are multiple Croatian, Hungarian and Macedonian champions - Veszprem, PPD Zagreb and Vardar whose matches against one another will be given additional treatment on League's official website.
First of those matches was the one in Zagreb Arena with PPD Zagreb hosting Veszprem in front of 15,000 spectators as a part of Champions League's round 3.
Hosts have opened the match better. Coach Vujović has, as it is often situation this season, prepared a few surprises for opponent. Two of Zagreb's most important players Horvat and Stepančić did not start the match but home team was after opening 10 minutes up by 3. Remarkable duo Obranović-Pavlović was leading the attack and Tonči Valčić was on the other side leading the defence orchestra. However, although Momir Ilić was given the red card after a too rough tackle on Obranović, Sabate has managed to make the team work a bit better and after 30 minutes the result was only -1 for guests.
Guests have started the second half better. It was visible from the beginning that it was going to be a thriller and in such a match 0:2 goal series is something big. Lead did not however last for long with Pavlović playing an extraordinary match and bringing the lead back to where it was for the whole first half - on Zagreb's side. Hosts were able to maintain their playing style throughout the whole second half playing good, well disciplined in defence and patient in attack. Gašper Marguč' outstanding 7-meter shots (6/6) were the only thing holding guests close for the bigger part of the second half. Despite of all that, sadly for more than 15,000 amazing supporters in 'Arena' Veszprem have played final 3 minutes better and taken big 2 points from Zagreb with 21:20.
'I am really not sure any team will take points from here. Zagreb plays remarkable in defence, has amazing atmosphere, even more than that and now I see why they claim to be favorites in each home match. We were in the end a bit luckier, maybe got a reward for playing without some of our most important players and we're taking points back home', said Veszprem's and Croatian national team goalkeeper Mirko Alilović. Sabate agreed: 'Zagreb have surely developed big-time since coach Vujović arrived and they've showed that today, in all aspects. I'm proud of my team, we did not give up and in the end result was on our side'.
Zagreb's winger Lovro Mihić was aware of the chance they have today missed: 'We've known they are coming here without some of their most important players and that we will have a chance to beat them in case we perform on the highest level. It is a big disappointment to lose in front of such crowd and in such a way.'
'Veszprem have in the end showed their experience deciding the match after losing for more than 58 minutes. Unbelievable match and a bitter way to lose it', concluded coach Vujović.
Veszprem have with this victory taken over the lead in group A with 5 points from three matches, Zagreb are fourth with only a point less.
In the next round Zagreb will travel to Paris to meet rising PSG and Veszprem will welcome Turkish Besiktas.