Nantes and Motor earn home wins; dramatic draw in Bucharest
There was no shortage of drama in Round 3, as Braga were close to a huge surprise in Nantes, while Besiktas earned a draw in the last second, after a converted 7-meter throw. Motor bounced back after a loss in Bucharest with an impressive win against Holstebro.
• After a draw against Nantes and a loss against Dinamo, Motor responded with a win against Holstebro
• Magnus Bramming could not stop Holstebro's defeat, but he was the day's top scorer, with 10 goals
• In their maiden season in the competition, Nantes are leading the group, with seven points, being undefeated in three matches
• Dinamo also lost a point in the last second in Holstebro
• Nantes are leading the group with five points, with Dinamo on the second place with four points
HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs TTH Holstebro (DEN) 34:28 (19:10)
It was a dream start for Motor, with a 91 per cent shot efficiency in the first 10 minutes, which helped the Ukrainian side open a 7:2 lead that proved to be decisive.
While Holstebro's coach, Patrick Westerholm, insisted that his team needed to clean up the costly mistakes and toughen up their defense, the Danish players did not respond to the instructions and found themselves into a 19:10 hole at half-time.
It looked like Motor were easily running away with the win, but a 6:1 run for Holstebro between the 37th and 42nd minute, inspired by Magnus Bramming, the Danish side's top scorer, saw the guests pull it back to a three-goal deficit, 24:21.
But Holstebro's defense was, again, their demise. A timely timeout taken by Motor in the 48th minute sealed the deal, as the Ukrainian side calmed down in attack and regained their wits in defense. While their shot efficiency plummed down to 69 per cent, Motor earned their first win in this year's competition, 34:28, while Holstebro are still without a win after three games and are slowly seeing their chances to progress falter.
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs ABC/UMinho (POR) 35:33 (20:16)
It might not have been the perfect start that Nantes enjoyed against Besiktas last week, when the French side jumped to a 8:1 lead, but Thierry Anti's side were impressive against ABC too.
There were only 13 minutes gone and the French side were cruising at 10:5, boasting a 83 per cent shot efficiency and with seven scorers on the sheet.
However, the Portuguese champions, fresh off a win against Holstebro -- their first one after 15 years in the VELUX EHF Champions League -- found back their motivation and kept the difference at four goals, with Nantes experimenting different formations; 10 players scored at least one goal in the first half.
But there are no easy wins in the European top competition, even if Nantes scorched Besiktas last week, 33:19. A 3:0 run for Braga, powered by back Nuno Pereira saw the Portuguese side reduce the difference to only one goal, 24:23, in the 37th minute.
While Braga even managed to tie the game, it was Nantes that came away victorious. With only 12 players on the official sheet, the Portuguese side faltered in the closing minutes. With the spotlight falling on the flawless Eduardo Gurbindo (6 goals from 6 shots), Nicolas Claire and Nicolas Tournat (both with eight goals), Nantes earned their second win in a row in the competition,
Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR) 26:26 (11:13)
It took seven minutes and 44 seconds for Dinamo to score their first goal against Besiktas in front of a pumped audience in Bucharest. But even with a fanbase that cheered their team for 60 minutes, Dinamo could not find themselves.
Besiktas were constantly pushing and dictating the tempo, with the Turkish champions leading 6:4 after 15 minutes, after a game marred of technical faults and near-misses.
A 3:0 run by Dinamo, inspired by Eliodor Voica changing the shape of his defense from a classical 6-0 to a 5-1, with Capota man-marking Nemanja Pribak saw the "Red Dogs" claim their first lead, 7:6. However, Dinamo went back to their old ways, with several turnovers that the Turkish side took advantage.
The 13:11 lead at half-time quickly doubled for Besiktas, with the Turkish side continuing to punish Dinamo's goalkeeper and defensive woes.
But a 6:1 run between the 37th and 46th minute, facilitated by Alin Sania with a pair of superb assists saw Dinamo tie the game. A flurry of converted counterattacks even put Dinamo in front for the first time in the game, 23:22, with seven minutes to go.
Three lead changes later and with Tolga receiving a two-minutes suspension, Dinamo were poised to win their second game in a row. However, in the last second, Allahkaram Esteki fouled Pribak and Vrazalic converted the penalty throw, as Dinamo drew their second game in this season after letting in a last-gasp goal, the previous one being in Holstebro.