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Rutenka, davant el Montpeller / FOTO: ARXIU FCB

Barça Intersport will need to recover six goals against AG Copenhagen to win a place in the Final Four in Cologne in late May. Just four weeks ago, Xavi Pascual’s side had to bounce back from two behind to put out Montpellier and eventually won by a massive 16. But the challenge is bigger this time. In the first FCB game in history against AG Copenhagen, the Danish showed just how good they are.

It was a historic game in the Danish capital. The spectacular atmosphere was generated by a record Champions League attendance of 22,000 at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. Defending champions Barça Intersport had it tough against an emerging giant in continental handball, AG Copenhagen.

Reaction after poor start

The Danes started with three former Barça players in the side (Hvidt, Boldsen and Hansen), and it was the latter pair who opened the scoring. The Danish centre twisted his ankle early on and had to withdraw, but that didn’t stop the Copenhagen defence from efficiently winning turnovers and counter attacking with force. Ten minutes into the game and the home side was 6-2 and Pascual called for a timeout.

Rutenka led the Barça reaction with a penalty, and soon the visitors had the lead (6-7). Saric and Hvidt were both goalkeeping brilliantly, and the big names like Víctor Tomás, Stefansson, Sigurdsson and Entrerríos started making their presence felt as the Danes concentrated maybe too much of their efforts on stopping Nagy and Rutenka. It was an intrepid half, including sin bins for both Sarmiento and Larsen, but after the first half hour, AG Copenhagen had come out tops and went in with a five point lead (16-11).

Nagy steps up a gear...

The second half started late due to problems with the scoreboard. Barça knew they couldn’t afford to let the difference grow, and captain Nagy took charge of affairs with five consecutive goals. AG Copenhagen, with Stefansson injured, left matters largely in the hands of Mikkel Hansen, one of the best wide players in the world. The interchange of goals ended after 40 minutes when an Ekberg goal made it 21-15. Not good. Pascual sent on Sjöstrand for Saric and the Swede responded with three saves off the first four attempts against him.

...but Hansen and Hvidt decide

However, Hansen was the most impressive player on court, and it was soon 23-17. Another Barça Intersport timeout and the tactic was now to shut Hansen out of the game. But even so, he was still able to shine, as was goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt with four out of six penalty saves in a game that the ex Barcelona stopper ended with an impressive XX saves.

Barça Intersport went into the last five minutes with six goals to make up (26-20). They fought as hard as they could, yet even with Hvidt red carded, Magnus Andersson’s were able to hold their own until the final whistle (29-23). But anything can happen in the Palau rematch. You only have to ask Montpellier. A terrific handball match awaits…

MATCH STATS

AG Copenhague, 29
FCB Intersport, 23

AG Copenhague (16+13): Hvidt (Henriksen); Ottesen (-), Atlason (3), René Toft Hansen (-), Jorgensen (-), Sigurdsson (4), Gudjonsson (1), Olafur (3), Henrik Toft Hansen (3), Ekberg (3, 2p.), Malmagro (-), Hundstrup (-), Larsen (3), Boldsen (1), Mikkel Hansen (8).

FCB Intersport (11+12): Saric (Sjostrand); Noddesbo (1), Juanín (1), Víctor Tomás (3), Entrerríos (4), Sorhaindo (1), Sarmiento (-), Ugalde (-), Nagy (6), Jernemyr (-), Aguirrezábalaga (-), Rutenka (4), Rocas (2, 1p.), Viran Morros (1), Igropulo (-).


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