|11.02.2017, 20:45||◄ last page|
GROUP 1 REVIEW: Metz claimed their first points in the Main Round after setting several club records with a 19-goal win over Astrakhanochka.
Metz back on track with record victory
This season, Metz have proven a number of times that they are tough opponents in the Women's EHF Champions League. Yet the French team desperately need points to fight for a quarter-final spot, and they earned an emphatic victory against still pointless team Astrakhanochka (37:18) on Saturday.
Metz Handball (FRA) vs Astrakhanochka (RUS) 37:18 (17:10)
Both teams had not claimed any points in the previous two matches of the Main Round. While the last-placed Astrakhanochka hardly had any chance against THC and Buducnost, the French champions proved to be a hard nut to crack for FTC and Vardar.
However, Metz lost both games, and taking into account the previous competition phase, their losing streak reached three matches, so a victory against the Russian outsiders was essential.
In the Main Round, any team are seen as favourite against Astrakhanochka, who lack quality and experience to successfully perform at this level. Metz were no exception, and they confirmed that role from the opening minutes.
One of their leaders, Ana Gros, was hurt early in the game after falling down on the court and had to rest on the bench for about 15 minutes before coming back. Even without the Slovenian right back, the hosts seized the initiative and were in front 5:2 after 10 minutes.
Helene Sajka and Xenia Smits were prolific for Metz, yet Astrakhanochka did not give up. Led by the tournament’s top scorer Karina Sabirova, they reduced to gap to 8:6 and later 10:8, which forced Metz coach Emmanuel Mayonnade to call for a time-out.
That seemed to help, and so did Gros’ comeback on the court. Metz had a good run before the interval as they did well in defence and scored after fast breaks.
The seven-goal gap allowed the French team to feel comfortable at the break, yet Metz were hungry for more and continued to push afterwards. Early in the second half, Astrakhanochka were unable to score for nine and a half minutes, and the hosts built a 26:11 lead.
The outcome was clear, and the main interest was whether Metz would beat any of their club records in the continental top flight.
Prior to the match, their biggest victories had taken place in the 2013/14 (30:20 against IK Savehof) and in the 2014/15 (34:24 against HCM Baia Mare) seasons, and the latter game also featured the biggest number of scored goals, 34.
Now both records were beaten, and meanwhile Astrakhanochka, who play their maiden season in the EHF Champions League, suffered their biggest defeat in the competition.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ew