Montpellier oust Metalurg to extend their winning run
In the only Group D encounter on Sunday, Montpellier recorded a 27:21 win to extend their winning streak to seven games. Montpellier's playoff berth is secure as they sit top of the table with 14 points, five clear of second-placed Motor Zaporozhye and eight ahead of Sporting CP.
- Montpellier the only team in the group phase to have won every match
- French club one win away from equalling their longest winning run of eight matches
- Montpellier first team from Groups C & D to secure playoff spot
HC Metalurg (MKD) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 21:27 (14:16)
The French side secured their playoff spot after overcoming HC Metalurg in what was an intense and nervous match in the first half.
While Montpellier were heavy favourites, especially after their 32:22 win over Metalurg in round 1, the hosts managed to keep up with the French powerhouses for the majority of the match.
An aggressive and organised defence in a 6-0 and occasionally 5-1 formation was the key for the Macedonians, but Montpellier's attacking quality was inevitable. Goalkeeper Darko Arsić was reliable once again as Metalurg had chances to level the score several times during the game.
Poor shooting success
Although Halil Jaganjac's five goals overall made him jointly Metalurg's top scorer, alongside Bozo Andjelic, his poor accuracy lost the hosts chances for a better result, with the five nets coming from 14 attempts.
Metalurg's low shot efficiency and the constant presence of Montpellier goalkeeper Vincent Gerard were the key factors to their loss. Gerard's save in the last seconds, when he stopped Ante Tokić's shot from a counter-attack, was in many ways the game in a nutshell.
Montpellier always pulled the strings when it mattered the most. Jaganjac equalised in the 23rd minute for the last time. From then on the French side had the edge and built on their lead in the second half. Theophile Causse on the right wing and Valentin Porte in the back court were the most successful players for Montpellier with six goals each.
Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer said Metalurg showed a “great fighting spirit” and said he was very happy with the result.
Metalurg assistant coach Aleksandar Jovic said: “This was a deserved win for Montpellier, a team that belongs in the VELUX EHF Champions League groups A or B because they have the quality.
“To win this match, we needed more players in the rotation, or not to make mistakes when we had a chance to equal the result. Congratulations to my players for the big fight, we have to learn from this defeat,” Jovic said.Author: Tomas Cuncik/jh