Barça prevail against Celje
Five minutes before the final buzzer, RK Celje Pivovarna Laško could hope to be the first team since MOL-Pick Szeged in September 2019 to snatch at least one point from Barça in an EHF Champions League Men group phase match, but the visitors then scored the last three goals of the match to take their 26th group phase victory in a row.
Having earned six points from 12 matches, Celje will finish in seventh place in group B and will duel against the runners-up from group A in the play-offs.
RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO) vs Barça (ESP) 29:32 (17:16)
- Celje did not trail Barça at all in the first half – though their biggest lead was only two goals
- thanks to a 5:0 run at the start of the second half, including three strikes from Haniel Langaro, the visitors pulled ahead to a quite comfortable 21:17 lead
- Celje stood strong – due to young guns Domen Novak (22 years old) and Veron Nacinovic (20 years old), who scored a combined 12 goals – and levelled the score at 29:29 in minute 55
- Luis Frade, the game's top scorer, confirmed the result with his eighth strike for Barça
- Celje’s best player was goalkeeper Milos Vujovic, who made 14 saves and won the duel against Danish World Championship gold medallist Kevin Möller (nine saves)
- Barça rested top stars Raul Entrerríos, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, Aleix Gomez, Ludovic Fabregas and Aron Pálmarsson and replaced them with some younger players
Great homecoming for Domen Makuc
In September 2020, Domen Makuc scored his first ever EHF Champions League goal in a Barça shirt in their first match this season against his old club RK Celje.
On Wednesday, Domen Makuc recorded another highlight in his young career. Coming home to the club where everything began, the 20-year-old centre back was the hero of the first 17 minutes, scoring five of Barça’s first seven goals.
"I am really satisfied that we played very well in first half; we were aggressive and our discipline in attack was good. We knew that the second half would be tougher. I am proud of my team – we were behind but we fought through. We are playing really well and have shown really good character on court," said RK Celje Pivovarna Laško head coach Tomaz Ocvirk.
"Congratulations to Celje, they played great and it is good that we won at the end. They controlled the rhythm trough the first half, and in the second we played better defence, but Celje's goalkeeper was great. Anyway, we controlled the result and for us it is always important to win," said Barça head coach Xavi Pascual.