Gummersbach keep dreams aliveArticle
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VfL defeated Montpellier and will play a “group final” against Ciudad Real.

Gummersbach keep dreams alive

They wanted to have a “group final” – and now the players of VfL Gummersbach still have the chance to reach the semi-finals.

After winning 31:25 (15:9) against Montpellier on Wednesday evening, the Germans are leading Group 2. The group will be decided in the very last match only on 16 March, when Gummersbach will play in Ciudad Real.

Gummersbach were dominating all the wayShould the Spanish team defeat Velenje on Sunday, Gummersbach would need a 2-goal victory in Spain next weekend to reach the semi-finals.

The players and spectators in the Eugen Haas hall in Gummersbach (VfL could not play in Kölnarena) celebrated the victory against Montpellier with a big party. The fans were singing nearly the whole second half and the players gave their best to fight for the group victory.

As the VfL defence had a lot of problems with the Montpellier backcourt in the first match, this time they formed a strong wall and did not give a chance to the French team.

And a former Montpellier player was one of the match winners for Gummersbach: playmaker Geoffroy Krantz. Not only his six goals, but also his strong defensive performance and his “good eyes” contributed to the victory.

After a good start (Montpellier were leading 3:1), the French express was stopped by Gummersbach. The backcourt players such as Wissem Hmam or Mladen Bojinovic were substituted very early as they were unable to go through.

The Germans celebrate reaching their objective: a chance to reach the semi-finals“This was not Wissem Hmam, this was his brother,” said Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer jokingly after the match.

With the best period of the first halftime, Gummersbach increased the difference to 12:7 and 15:8 before the break. It was possible also because of goalkeeper Nándor Fazekas who made ten saves in 30 minutes.

But the match was not yet decided at this point as Montpellier fought back and reduced the gap several times to four goals and came back to 18:14.

Montpellier could not break in the “VfL fortress” as they did in the first match.

“In Montpellier our defence was terrible, today it was brilliant,” said coach Alfred Gislasson. “It was an excellent performance from our team. I’m so proud.”

Four minutes before the final whistle Momir Illic decided the match and made it 29:22. Then a big party started, though the French scored three consecutive goals.

“This victory against a world class team was extremely important, especially as two weeks ago nobody thought that we would still have a theoretical chance to reach the semi-finals by winning in Ciudad Real,” said Gislasson.

“I wish you all the best in Spain,” said Canayer whose team are out of the race.

TEXT: Björn Pazen