PSG sink battling Zagreb to keep perfect record intactArticle
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GROUP A REVIEW: Flawless penalty shooting and an inspired performance from goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer lifted PSG to an emphatic win over Zagreb

PSG sink battling Zagreb to keep perfect record intact

French giants Paris Saint-German Handball overcame a jittery start against Zagreb, a team which could turn out to be the season’s surprise package, to register an emphatic win against their Croatian rivals on Sunday.

The Croatian champions took an early lead but their French rivals turned the tide thanks to a crucial 5:0 run late in the first half as their Danish left back Mikkel Hansen converted a flurry of seven-metre penalty shots with ruthless efficiency in front of a partisan home crowd.

Zagreb, however, can take a lot of positives from a spirited performance, especially by their 23-year old right back Luka Stepancic who confirmed that he is the future of Croatian handball.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) 27:22 (11:9)

Riding on a wave of confidence instilled by last weekend’s shock home win over German rivals THW Kiel, Zagreb made a blistering start against PSG and gave as good as they got in the opening exchanges against Europe’s most expensively assembled outfit.

Having held their own early on in a fast-flowing encounter in the French capital, Zagreb nosed into an 8:6 lead as Luka Stepancic rifled in one long-range effort after another past the home team’s bewildered goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer.

However, that was as good as it got for the Croatian champions, who paid the price for lack of defensive discipline in the final 10 minutes of the opening period. They accumulated a series of two-minute suspensions and PSG took full advantage to turn the two-goal deficit into a two-goal advantage at the interval.

The first-ever meeting between the two sides was still balanced early in the second half  as livewire Stepancic reduced the gap to 12:11, but the home side pulled away for good with a 4:0 streak and stretched their perfect start to two wins out of two.

Mikkel Hansen executed his penalty shots with some aplomb to finish as the game’s top scorer with eight goals, seven of them from the seven-metre line as Zagreb failed to find an answer to the home team’s intricate passing around their weary-looking 6-0 zone.

PSG goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer shone at the other end, pulling off a string of superb saves as the home team romped into a 25:17 lead in the closing stages. Zagreb refused to roll over though and salvaged some pride as Josip Valcic and Zlatko Horvat provided  much-needed scoring support to the tightly-marked Stepancic, who ran out of steam in the dying minutes.

Montenegrin winger Fahrudin Melic capped a fine individual performance with five goals for PSG, while centre back Daniel Narcisse and left wing Samuel Honrubia added three each. Stepancic finished with seven for goals for Zagreb, who next face FYR Macedonia’s HC Metalurg in an eagerly-awaited regional derby.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / br