PSG beat Nantes in all-French clash to qualify for quarter-finals
Following a draw in the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 first-leg match in Nantes, it seemed the chances were open for either French side to claim a place in the quarter-finals – but PSG Handball proved their might with an emphatic eight-goal win, and secured qualification for the next stage in the process.
• PSG win the all-French Last 16 clash with an aggregate score of 61:53 after a draw in the first leg
• Nedim Remili top scores the game with 10 goals, equalling his best performance this season
• Nantes Spanish right wing David Balaguer also impresses with 10 goals, including eight penalties
• This will be PSG's fourth quarter-finals participation in a row, while Nantes are “proud” of making it to the Last 16 in their first Champions League participation
LAST 16, SECOND LEG Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) 35:27 (15:13)
Last week's Match of the Week sometimes looked more like a fierce battle than a handball game, and on Saturday night the match started the same way – a lot of contact and some tough defence, but no goalkeepers saves.
After nine minutes, players from both teams had already scored five times each, with Olivier Nyokas and Remili proving to be the best offensive assets on each side.
But following a goalkeeper change, Nantes started to take the advantage. While Nikola Karabatic forced a couple of situations, Eduardo Gurbindo was clinical and made the most of his opportunities to beat PSG’s Thierry Omeyer.
The Spanish right back and fast breaks from Dominik Klein earned Nantes a narrow lead for the first time in the game at 11:9, but a PSG time-out stopped the momentum and, in the wake, the Parisian team scored five unanswered goals.
Thanks to a last-second Nikola Karabatic goal, Paris went back to a dressing room two goals ahead and after the disastrous end to the first half, Nantes could not quite regain control of the game.
“We had this very bad weak point between the 20th minute and half-time and there, we lost confidence and they gained some instead. When this team is in the driving seat, they're very hard to stop,” said Nantes captain Rock Feliho.
PSG looked confident enough not to panic while Nantes often appeared as though they were out of solutions. Nyokas shut down while both Gurbindo and Balaguer gave their best to prevent Paris from taking a bigger advantage – but with no success.
Only once did the visitors have a real opportunity to come back in the game, but with one man extra, Klein missed his shot against Omeyer and Arnaud Siffert could not score into the empty goal. From that point, PSG were clearly in control through the last 15 minutes.
“This is the kind of game we were waiting for, and we prepared for it well,” said Remili. “Nantes took the lead, but we didn't panic. We knew we would have to be strong mentally not to drown under the pressure, and our plan worked exactly as intended. We're aware there will be no easy opponent in the quarter-finals.”