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Syprzak had a 38% conversion rate against Sterbik | DENIS DUKOVSKI - HC VARDAR

The FC Barcelona Lassa handball’s unbeaten start to Champions League play came to an end on Saturday as they went down to defending champions Vardar. The Macedonians were rock solid in defence, with former Barça stopper Arpad Sterbik as impressive ion goal as he was in the Final Four game between the same sides last season.

A 5-0 streak from Vardar early on proved to be the decisive moment in the game, with Montenegrin left-back Vuko Borozan the main contributor to a 16-12 lead for the home side at the interval.

Barça did their best to fight their way back from behind, with Gonzalo performing nicely and Valero converting eight goals, but although they did manage to cut away at the deficit, it was never quite enough to avoid the first defeat of the campaign.

The result distances the Catalans from the sole direct berth into the quarter finals, but they are still well poised to take one of the five places that allow passage into the knockout rounds.

match stats

HC Vardar, 27
FC Barcelona Lassa, 24

Vardar: Sterbik (Milic); Ferreira Moraes (1), Maqueda (5), Cañellas (1), Dibirov (4), Shishkarev (3), Borozan (6) –starting seven- Stoilov (-), Abutovic (-), Cindric (4), Cupic (2), Karacic (1), Kristopans (-).

Barça: Gonzalo; Víctor Tomàs (3), Entrerríos (5), Valero Rivera (8), Syprzak (1), Dika Mem (2), Jallouz (2) –starting seven- Dolenec (2), Sorhaindo (-), N’Guessan (1), Alexis Borges (-), Viran Morros (-).

Periods: 1-3, 5-5, 9-6, 12-7, 15-9, 16-12 (HT), 19-13, 20-15, 20-16, 23-18, 25-20, 27-24 (FT).

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