Miracle in Buzau: Constanta defeated MontpellierArticle
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The Romanian champions turned a virtually lost game against a star-studded opponent.

Miracle in Buzau: Constanta defeated Montpellier

HCM Constanta made the first big surprise of the new CL season: the Romanians have beaten the French champion and FINAL4 contender Montpellier after an epic performance.

Karabatic was not enough in BuzauIf someone still has to be convinced that handball is the fastest, most thrilling and the most beautiful sport on Earth, than it’s simple: just give him the DVD of the game between HCM Constanta and Montpellier. This was a drama that not even Hitchcock could write.

The best player in the world, Nikola Karabatic, three Olympic and World champions on court. 8 goals ahead after 20 minutes of play. And still, all these were not enough for Montpellier to win the game against a team they have easily beaten twice in the Champions League two seasons ago.

“We don’t even think about beating Montpellier, we know it’s impossible; we will just try to do our best to stay close,” said Constanta’s General Manager, Ali Nurhan, two days before the game. He proved to be right in the first 20 minutes. Karabatic, Hmam, Tej and Kavticnik completely destroyed the Romanian team. With 10 minutes to go till the end of the first half, Montpellier were comfortably leading by 8 goals: 15-7.

Then something unexpected happened: a two-minute suspension for Nikola Karabatic and three consecutive goals for the Romanians turned everything around. In only seven minutes Constanta managed to do the impossible: they levelled the score, 17-17. Still, it was Montpellier to enter the dressing rooms with a lead, thanks to a converted 7-meter throw by Kavticnik.

But it was clear to everybody that Constanta had a psychological advantage now. Supported by 2,000 fanatic fans, the Romanians took the game in their hands. Hypnotised by the goalkeeper Popescu (18 saves) and unable to stop the 24-year old line player Schuch (8 goals), the team of Patrice Canayer was forced to run after their opponents.

Karabatic made it 25-25 in the 42nd minute, but it proved to be the last time the 2003 CL winners were able to keep the pace with Constanta. The Romanians took a 4-goal lead with 10 minutes to go – an advantage they kept till the end.

The final score: HCM Constanta vs Montpellier 37-33! The Romanian vampires shed the blood of a giant exactly five years after their historic win against Barcelona - also in the Champions League groups.

“We played a good game and we never gave up. I'm sure Montpellier took us easy, specially after they took that huge lead in the first minutes,” thinks Constanta’s left wing, Buricea.

“Five years ago, after beating Barcelona, we made mistakes and we finally failed to pass the group phase. Now it’s time to show that we learnt something from those mistakes and we can reach the Last 16, said the left back Nicolae.

Still shocked after the game that Montpellier could have easily decided in the first half, Nikola Karabatic was sad at the press conference: “Our aim this season is to reach the FINAL4. But if we continue playing like we did tonight, I'm sorry to say that we have no chance.”

Schuch (8) and Buricea (6) were the top scorers of Constanta. Next week they will play their 3rd consecutive home game against Pick Szeged. For Montpellier, which faces a tricky trip to Valladolid next week, Kavticnik (7) and Tej (6) were the best scorers.

TEXT: Emilian Voicu