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Croatia Zagreb defeats Barça / PHOTO: Àlex Caparrós - FCB

Claiming a second consecutive European title won’t be an easy task for FC Barcelona Intersport. In the match against their most complicated rival, Croatia Zagreb, the Barça team picked up their  first defeat of the in Group A - up until now the Catalans managed to go on an eight-game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Azulgranas maintain their spot at the top of the table with one game left in the group stages.

Tomás scores in his return

In Saturday’s match, the Culés hosted Croatia Zagreb, who were missing their star player Ivano Balic, at the Palau Blaugrana. Barça, on the other hand, welcomed the return of the winger Víctor Tomás after he successfully recuperated from a muscle injury. Tomás was in the starting line-up and he scored Barça’s first goal. Despite Barça’s onslaught, Zagreb went toe to toe with the home team and never let Barça run away with the score.

Intense Champions League match

Neither team managed to gain a clear advantage at the start of the match. Barça, however, managed a slight advantage thanks to Rutenka, who scored four of the team’s six goals from seven meters. The Catalan team’s defensive intensity forced Zagreb to make mistakes whilst on the attack.

A goal from Junanín García allowed Barça to take an advantage of four goals, Xavi Pascual, from the Palau stands, watched as his players dominated their rivals on the court. The visiting team, with a superb performance from their keeper, mounted a comeback when Barça dropped their defensive intensity.

The visitors leapfrogged Barça and only an effective Rutenka, from the penalty spot, kept his team in the match (14-15 at the half).

Excitement in the second half

At the start of the second half, Zagreb jumped to a three goal lead, and thus establishing their biggest advantage of the night. Barça Intersport, however, didn’t give up and a flurry on offensive brilliance managed to come level with the visitors.

The Palau was packed during today’s Champions League match, and the stands cheered their team on. However, in Nagy’s possession, the best Barça player in the second half, along with Saric, crashed against Zagreb’s defensive wall. Barça lost the match by one goal. Now, Barça heads to Sweden to clinch qualification for the last-16 round.

MATCH STATS

Barcelona Intersport (14+15): Saric; Noddesbo (3), Juanín (2, 1p.), Tomás (2), Entrerríos (1), Sorhaindo (2), Sarmiento (2), Ugalde (1), Nagy (7), Jernemyr (-), Aguirrezabalaga (-), Rutenka (8, 6p.), Morros (-), Balaguer (1), Igropulo (-).

Croàcia Osiguranje Zagreb (15+15): Sego (Pesic); Maric (2), Brozovic (-), Stepancic (-), Kopljar (7), Matulic (-), Spiler (1), Sebetic (-), Gojun (3), Strlek (4), Horvat (6, 2p.), Josip Valcic (5), Vukic (2), Tonci Valcic (-), Kaleb (-).

Minute by minute runs: 2-1, 5-4, 7-6, 10-8, 12-12, 14-15 (descanso); 16-18, 18-21, 21-21, 21-23, 24-27, 29-30 (final).

Referees: Olivier Buy and Stevann Pichon (French).

Pavelló: Palau Blaugrana. 2.587 espectadors.

Rutenka, European Record

Rutenka made history with FC Barcelona Intersport today, he is now the team’s all-time highest goal scorer in the Champions League. His eight goals are a Club record.


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