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August 3, 2021

Handball: HCM Constanta wins in Thessaloniki to top group table

Men’s handball club HCM Constanta defeated Greece’s PAOK Thessalonica on Wednesday, score 30-26, thus managing to top the Group A standings. The game counted for round 4 of the EHF Champions League.

The difference in value between the two teams made itself felt towards the end of the first half when the visitors took a 4-goal lead. Toma and Baiceanu were Constanta’s best players, with Csepreghi joining them later on and proving to be an indispensable goal scorer.

In the second half HCM was constantly in the lead. Every time the Greek team closed in HCM restored the goal difference. Sabou successfully entered the game, Adzici pulled off a spectacular goal and Csepreghi continued to pummel the opponents’ goal, tallying 10 goals at the end of the game.

The final minutes of the game were overshadowed by Laurentiu Toma’s injury suffered after he collided with PAOK’s goalkeeper Kominek. HCM attained its objective with a score of 30-26, a score registered at the end of an average game. HCM has thus notched another victory and tops the group for now.

Laurentiu Toma suffered an injury in the 59th minute after goalkeeper Konstantinos Gourgoumis used his knee to stop Toma’s counterattack. ‘He took the breath of out me. I couldn’t breathe. I hope it’s not something serious,’ Toma stated for ‘Gazeta Sporturilor’ daily. HCM’s officials wanted to take no chances. ‘Toma will take an X-ray at the hospital. I hope he doesn’t have a broken rib,’ assistant coach Eden Hairi stated.

Despite winning the game, HCM’s George Buricea was extremely upset at the end: ‘This is not handball! One cannot play handball against a team like PAOK. Throughout the game they kept kicking us, holding us, obstructing our game. I think they broke Toma’s ribs. The fans threw bottles, spit at us. One can tell this is their first Champions League game. Instead of playing against the Greeks again I’d rather play one hundred times against Montpellier and Valladolid,’ Buricea stated. This was Buricea’s first game for HCM after an injury kept him on the bench for two weeks.

HCM Constanta now tops Group A until Sunday when the other two round 4 games will take place: Montpellier vs. Cehovski Medvedi and Pick Szeged vs. Valladolid. The Romanian players have decided to win two more group games in order to make sure they will qualify.

‘With ten points we can be sure to go beyond the group stage. For that we’ll have to defeat Cehovski Medvedi in Buzau next round and then PAOK also at home. We could qualify with 8 points too but then we would depend on the other teams’ results,’ executive director Nurhan Ali stated.

‘The game was just like we expected. Tough, very tough. It’s a good thing we’ve won and we’ve maintained our chances to qualify,’ Zoran Kurtes, the head coach of HCM Constanta, stated in his turn. Asked about the next group game against Cehovski Medvedi, Alexandru Csepreghi, the hero of the game against PAOK, stated: ‘Let’s enjoy this win for the time being and we’ll treat the Russians differently. We respect them and we expect them to play handball. We could defeat Cehovski just like we’ve defeated Montpellier and Pick Szeged, especially since they lost a game against Steaua last year in Buzau.’

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