Víctor Tomás in action. PHOTO: V. SALGADO - FCB

FC Barcelona’s handball team have started off the final stretch of the VELUX EHF Champions League in style. In the first leg of the knock-out round the Blaugrana defeated Aalborg by 22 to 29, which means they are very close to the next stage of the competition.

The team managed by Xavi Pascual will play the second leg on Saturday at 8:30 PM CET at the Palau.

Barça kill the game off

The final stretch of the season is here, the conclusion of the biggest European competition is just around the corner, and Barça came out onto the court of Aalborg with the clear intention of getting a good result ahead of the second leg. The two teams knew what was at stake, and the fist four minutes of the game reflected that as both keepers were called upon to make numerous saves. Neither team managed to score in the opening minutes of the match.

Barça took a small lead after 10 minutes (4-8), but the Danish team, spurred on by their fans, responded with a 5-0 run. This was when Aalborg were at their best, but when Gurbindo and Víctor Tomás were brought in, Barça surged forward. Barça went to the break with a two-goal lead (13-15).

Barça show maturity

The start of the second half saw Barça open up a three-goal lead (15-18, min 34), and this time they didn’t let Aalborg react. Additional goals from Rutenka and Sarmineto, in addition to Saric’s saves in goal, gave Barça a six-goal lead (17-23).

Saric only allowed nine goals in the second half and his saves proved crucial to the team’s success in Denmark. A goal from Karabatic with 30 second left on the clock gave Barça a seven-goal lead (22-29). This result ensures a fantastic advantage ahead of next week’s game at the Palau.

MATCH FACTS

Aalborg, 22

FCB, 29

Aalborg: Slundt (6), Engelbrecht (4), Krejberg (4), Larsen (4), Jensen (2), Pedersen (1), Tvedten (1), Bagersted (-), Barud (-), Erevik (-), Holmen (-), Jakobsson (-), Jensen (-), Kappelin (-), Mork Kristiansen (-).

FCB: Saric, Juanín (0), Rutenka (3), Entrerríos (3), Lazarov (2), Noddesbo (3), Saubich (1) –starting team-, Sorhaindo (2), Sarmiento (3), Karabatic (4), Gurbindo (4), Víctor Tomás (4), Robin, Stranovsky (-), Morros (-), Ariño (-) .

Referees: Matija Gubica and Boris Milosevic