Impressive, stunning and well deserved – those words probably describe the huge win by the THW Kiel against the Rhein-Neckar Löwen the best. The reigning champion put on quite a show and totally outplayed its opponent throughout the game thanks to an outstanding defensive performance and went on to win the key matchup by a score of 31:20 (12:9).
Especially after the break the hosts outrun the lions, who had to do without injured captain Uwe Gensheimer. But his absence was far from being the key to the game. The defense of Kiel was just outstanding and Rene Toft Hansen and Erlend Mamelund were almost insurmountable for the league leader, while Niklas Landin saved 44 percent of the shots he faced.
The resurgence of Joan Canellas came at the right time for the THW as well. The Spaniard has played a subpar season so far, but was on fire early on as the Löwen defense lacked all the aggressiveness it usually shows. Canellas scored nine times overall and was his team’s most efficient player, followed by Christian Dissinger, who finished with seven goals.
The Rhein-Neckar Löwen lost right-wing Patrick Groetzki to a muscle injury late in the first half and also had to do without right-back Alexander Petersson for most of the game. But playmaker Andy Schmid having a day off was more of an issue and his favorite target, line-player Rafael Baena, was well defended by Kiel.
The title race, which would have been almost close in case the guests would have taken home the two points, is now wide open again. Kiel is two points back in the standings and has all the momentum on its side, while the Löwen are suffering from a less deeper roster. They will close out the year against Magdeburg in two days, while Kiel will travel to Cologne to face the Bergischer HC.