GROUP D REVIEW: French side Nantes thump Besiktas 33:19, in their first-ever win in the VELUX EHF Champions League while ABC/UMinho from Portugal were impressive against Danish side Holstebro.
First win for HBC Nantes hands Besiktas worst loss, ABC/UMinho ease past Holstebro
HBC Nantes earned their first-ever win in the VELUX EHF Champions League thanks to a blistering start against Besiktas in a match they went on to win 33:19, while fellow debutants, TTH Holstebro are still winless after two rounds after losing 32:27 against ABC/UMinho. The French side and Dinamo București lead the group as the two only undefeated sides.
The French side, who won the Men’s EHF Cup last season, will host ABC/UMinho next Sunday, while Dinamo București play Besiktas in Romania.
Left back Nuno Pereira was in superb form in key moments for the Portuguese champions, scoring 10 goals
ABC won their first game in the VELUX EHF Champions League after a 15-year drought
Danish side Holstebro are currently last in the group, with their only point coming from their first match against Dinamo
ABC/UMinho (POR) vs TTH Holstebro (DEN) 32:27 (17:14)
There was no shortage of drama for ABC/UMinho last Wednesday night (28 September), as the Portuguese champions lost at home, 38:29in the regional derby against Sporting CP but three days later, ABC managed to pick themselves up and jumped to a 32:27 win against TTH Holstebro, their first victory after 15 years in the European top competition.
A defeat that motivated ABC
The painful defeat against Sporting did not show in the first minutes for the Portuguese champions, rather it motivated ABC, who jumped to a 7:4 lead after 10 minutes, with left back Nuno Pereira in particular good form.
With a quick update on their defence and more disciplined in attack, where the ball circulated fluently, Holstebro came back and with a run of 5:1 in four minutes, they managed to claw themselves back into the game. Three lead changes later, ABC had sealed a firm grip of the game, boasting a three-goal lead at half-time, 17:14, after a concerted effort by the whole team, with only three field players failing to register a goal in the first 30 minutes.
No luck in attack for Holstebro
It was the offensive part of the game that disappointed Holstebro in the first half, as ABC had a 65% shot efficiency, with only six failed shots, while the Danish side had a modest 51% shot efficiency, with goalkeeper Humberto Gomes in supreme form. It was no surprise then that the Portuguese side continued to take advantage of their home court and lead the game, even by a four-goal difference, 21:17, in the 40th minute, with the scoring duties being shared by all the players.
Holstebro draw level with five minutes to go
A flurry of technical mistakes that never seemed to stop saw ABC lose their grip on the game, as Holstebro, slowly but surely, made their way back in. With Magnus Grubb Bramming in flawless form, scoring nine goals from nine shots, the Danish league runners-up managed to tie the game at 26:26 with five and a half minutes to go.
At this point it looked like TTH were favourites, but Patrick Westerholm’s side lost their cool and several important attacks, as left back Nuno Pereira scored three goals in a row for ABC to bring the Portuguese side their first-ever win in the VELUX EHF Champions League, after a 15-year drought.
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR) 33:19 (16:9)
It is virtually impossible to find a team that navigates straightforwardly through a game in the VELUX EHF Champions League. However, Nantes managed to transform their match against Besiktas Mogaz HT into a walk in the park after a blistering start that put the French side in the lead 7:1 after just eight minutes of play.
A seven-goal lead after 12 minutes
It took four minutes for Besiktas to score their first goal, but the French side were already cruising to an easy win after they had already put four past their counterparts’ defence. There was clearly a plan from Nantes to attack the right side of Besiktas’ rearguard as Dominik Klein and Olivier Nyokas were simply unstoppable, powering Nantes to a 9:2 lead after 12 minutes. An unanswered three-goal streak helped Besiktas reduce their deficit, but Nantes quickly took back the difference to a seven-goal lead, with a flurry of counter attacks that left the guests with no answer.
Only three Nantes field players failed to score
There was no comeback for Besiktas in the second half, with any hoped being disallowed by a relentless French side, who wanted to share the handball joy with the fans that populated the Salle Sportive de la Trocardiere. While Thierry Anti, Nantes’ coach, rested his starters, there was nothing to suggest that the bench players were inferior, as only three of Nantes’ field players failed to score in the 33:19 win.
Worst defeat and fewest goals scored ever by Besiktas
With a 37% attack efficiency, a 45% shot efficiency and failing to perform at the highest level, Besiktas tied two of their records in the VELUX EHF Champions League. In their 25th game in the European top competition, the Turkish champions had their worst-ever defeat, tying the 14-goal thumping received from Celje Pivovarna Lasko in March (43:29). Their attacking drought was also a record, with the 19 goals scored tying the performance against Wisla Plock in September 2014, when Besiktas lost 28:19.
TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / amc