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Barca with important win close to play Quarterfinals


FC Barcelona Lassa - Pick Szeged 30:25 (19:14)

Four Spanish players and a Spanish coach are part of Szeged's squad - so any match on Spanish ground is something special for them. Sunday's duel even had a huge significance as after Saturday's results of Group B, the Hungarian side could have caught up with the Catalan side and Kielce in the race for the top position. But coach Juan Carlos Pastor, who had led Spain (including current Barca centre back Raul Entrerrios) to their first World Championship trophy in 2005, did not see his dreams become a reality.

Already at the break the deficit was five goals, as Barcelona stayed constantly ahead in the first 30 minutes - in a comeback match of formerly injured left back Filip Jicha. Thanks to the goals of Wael Jallouz and the saves of goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, Barcelona had their first five-goal advantage at 9:4, before Szeged intermediately reduced to 9:11 - in the strongest period of their great playmaker Dean Bombac. But when left wing Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson and right back Kirl Lazarov had started their engines, the gap increased to 20:14. Though they missed their tall Croatian expert Marko Kopljar, Barcelona stood strong in defence, the only chance Szeged had in terms of scoring was in counter-attacks. But with Sigurdsson still on fire and a low number of turnovers, Barcelona decided the match early, forging ahead to 24:16 in the 37th minute.

But Szeged did not surrender, but were close to turning the match around at 25:22 and 28:25, when their top scorer Bombac netted for the sixth and last time seven minutes before the end. Finally, the gap was too big even though Barcelona took their foot off the gas for the final stages of the tie. Jallouz, Lazarov (now on an overall of 83 goals) were the top scorers for the victors, who can make a huge step towards winning the group and skipping the Last 16 with their Round 13 tie at Kristianstad. Xavi Pascual head coach of Barcelona spoke after the match: "Im so happy with our players and fans today. It was a great game for us. Szeged are a great team; they can score goals from anywhere but we had a super performance in defense today."