PSG win despite tough first half
Before Sunday's group A match against RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko, Paris Saint-Germain HB had not lost a home game in the VELUX EHF Champions League since November 2015 – and they can now proudly add another game to that record.
It was not all fun and games, though, as Celje gave their hosts a hard time, proving that the position that they occupied in group A prior to throw-off is not necessarily deserved.
- PSG remain unbeaten at home in the Champions League since November 2015
- Nedim Remili was the game's top scorer with six, while Jan Grebenc netted four times for Celje
- PSG now have eight points and remain top of group A
- Celje are now seventh in the group and are on zero points
Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) 27:18 (13:11)
To give him some rest, Paris Saint-Germain coach Raul Gonzalez decided to keep Nikola Karabatic on the bench at throw-off, along with other experienced players such as Luc Abalo and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson.
Perhaps Celje saw that as an opportunity to cause an upset. The Slovenian team started the game in perfect fashion and only allowed PSG to score twice in the first 16 minutes of the game. Both goalkeepers, Rodrigo Corrales and Klemen Ferlin, saved multiple shots and the first half was close as a result. Thanks to a last-second goal by Nikola Karabatic, PSG were ahead by two at the break, 13:11, but you could feel that everything remained possible.
Aiming to avoid a tense and nailbiting end to the game, PSG changed their tactics in the second half. Vincent Gerard started in goal and saved four straight shots, allowing his team to break away on the scoreboard. From one of Gerard’s long passes, Luc Abalo scored to give the hosts a five-goal advantage after 38 minutes (18:13).
From then on, PSG were in their comfort zone and the two points were assured. As Raul Gonzalez was able to open his bench, young player Lucas Depreaux even had his first ever taste of the VELUX Champions League in the final minutes.
Both coaches were keen to underline Vincent Gerard’s performance after the game. Raul Gonzalez praised Gérard's performance.
The PSG coach said: "The fantastic performance he had allowed us to have some fast breaks and to take a clear lead. When we started to play with rhythm, it was much easier for us.”
Despite the defeat, Celje’s Vid Poteko does not want his teammates to have their heads down. He said: "We train good, we play good. We missed too many good opportunities but we are a little disappointed because we played well, especially in the first half.”Author: Kevin Domas / jw