Handball fans all across the region expected a tough and narrow battle from Balkan Clasico between Celje PL and PPD Zagreb but one team dominated the court in Zlatorog Arena tonight and that was, a bit unexpectedly, PPD Zagreb. ’Lions’ celebrated a resounding 30:23 win overtaking the second position in the regular season standings.
When Borut Mackovsek and Jaka Malus combined to give Celje 8:7 lead a bit more than 15 minutes into the match no one expected such an outcome. However, not even Matej Hrstic’ leg injury could today do no harm to Croatian champs who were flying on wings of Domagoj Pavlovic who scored eight in his SEHA return after recovering from an injury. Guest team’s right side was however the biggest enigma for Celje today as Zlatko Horvat and Mario Vuglac finished the match scoring seven each. That means the trio combined for 22 goals with the complete home-team roster outscoring them by only one which pretty much sums up how well everything functioned for Zagreb tonight.
After Croatian champs opened the gap to seven (12:19) even before the half time whistle led by Domagoj Pavlovic who orchestrated Zagreb’ 6:0 series in the second part of the first half, second half became a question of routine for Zlatko Saracevic and his boys. Most positive thing of the match for Celje was the return of Ivan Sliskovic who came back after an 18-month long break due to a mono which kept him out since Rio Olympics. Apart of that, coach Tamse can also be satisfied with the performance of Borut Mackovsek who scored seven with two assists but that was obviously far from enough to stop Zagreb today.
PPD Zagreb will in the next round host Metalurg and Celje PL will travel to Skopje to meet Vardar.