|23.04.2017, 19:45||◄ last page|
QUARTER-FINAL REVIEW: It was a balanced game between MOL-Pick Szeged and PSG Handball but the visitors controlled the match from the first to the last minute.
The best attack beat the best defence in Szeged
PSG Handball won the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals in Szeged as MOL-Pick Szeged were trailing the visitors all game long but only managed to make it a tight game. Thanks to their three-goal victory PSG made a huge step towards the FINAL4.
It’s been almost twenty years since the two teams met for the first and only time, in 1998 Szeged eliminated PSG from the City Cup.
This time Szeged were underdogs as the best defence took on the best attack in the quarter-final of Europe’s elite handball competition.
Juan Carlos Pastor had to figure out an efficient defensive strategy in the absence of his key defender, Alen Blazevic, who was sidelined for the first leg.
Szeged’s 5-1 defence did not surprise PSG, who started brightly and despite some huge saves from Jose Manuel Sierra immediately took the lead with their awesome pair of wingers, Luc Abalo and Uwe Gensheimer.
It took Szeged 17 minutes and two two-minute suspensions to draw the game level but when the unusualy blunt Thierry Omeyer was taken off and Gorazd Skof took his place PSG regained momentum and retook the lead.
With his fourth goal Gensheimer became the first player in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2016/17 season to pass the 100-goal milestone.
Szeged struggled to contain the star-studded visitors’ attacks and despite great efforts of in-form Zsolt Balogh (who missed two penalties in the first half) PSG remained in front with a comfortable margin. Richard Bodo scored from an free throw at the buzzer to cut the visitors’ lead to two goals.
No comeback for Szeged this time
In the recent weeks, Szeged played quite a few important games and they managed to raise the level of their game in the second half but the Nikola Karabatic-led PSG were simply too strong for the Hungarian team to do so.
Skof saved the third penalty in a row and despite Szeged trying everything from double pivot tactics to surprising attacking moves the visitors held on to their lead.
However, Szeged refused to give up and Pastor finaly found a player who could score from the penalty spot but Pedro Rodriguez’s goals were only enough to draw the home side closer. It was an open game as Szeged fought with great pride and goals from Jonas Källman and Bence Banhidi meant they remained close.
Szeged gave everything they had, cutting the visitors’ lead to one goal on numerous occasions but PSG emerged as winners. The sold-out Újszegedi Arena thanked their team’s efforts with a standing ovation after the buzzer rang.
“We missed too many chances, which meant we could fight but not win against such a great opponent. I am proud of my players who gave their all but with so many mistakes in attack we had no chance to surprise PSG,” said Juan Carlos Pastor after the game.
Zvonimir Serdarusic (PSG), coach: “I am very happy to win in Szeged. We were leading all the time but we had to perform on maximum level. We must not believe that the quarter-finals are over, as Szeged are able to play very good handball away from home as well.”
TEXT: Bence Márta / bc