FTC snatch last-minute drawArticle
«Go back

GROUP B REVIEW: Fleury Loiret Handball come painfully close to their first EHF Champions League win against the Hungarian champions

FTC snatch last-minute draw

Fleury Loiret Handball began the day with a strong first half against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, looking to be the winners of the match until the final moments.

The victory was snatched from the French side in the dying seconds, moving the Hungarian champions up to three points and Fleury to two after the second round of Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches.

In the other group game Thüringer HC emerged victorious in Croatia to also sit with three points from two games.

Fleury Loiret Handball (FRA) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 28:28 (14:11)

The only time in the whole match the score was equal was right on the final buzzer – so the FTC players danced on the court in Orleans, while the Fleury side could not understand what happened in the final crucial seconds.

Letting a seven-goal advantage in the first half slip from their grasp, the French side tied for the second time out of two matches so far in the group phase.

FTC took the unexpected point to add to their two from the first round, when they defeated Podravka.

The French champions had a flying start, while FTC were in a state of shock in the initial minutes. The Hungarian champions were too nervous in attack, either losing the ball due to turnover or failing against the best player on court, Fleury goalkeeper Darly Zoqbi de Paula, who finished with an extraordinary 21 saves.

Her teammates – mainly left back Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa and line player Laura Kamdop – took the early profit of her saves, overrunning FTC in style.

After only ten minutes, FTC coach Gabor Elek was forced to call a timeout when the Hungarians were down 1:7. But nothing changed until minute 16 when the score was 10:3 for Fleury.

From that moment on, the rollercoaster slowly but determinedly changed its direction – the hosts lost their rhythm and pace, while FTC managed to score easy goals, turning improving defence into confidence in attack.

Even a Fleury timeout did not stop the FTC express, and the Hungarian side recorded an 8:3 run to reduce the gap to three at the break.

Despite support from the stands and a superb performance from top scorer Barbosa (11 goals in total), Fleury could not reach the same level as in the first half. They fought hard for every goal as FTC strengthened their defence.

Every conceded goal made Fleury more nervous in attack and by the 41st minute, FTC were back in the game and trailing by just one at 19:20.

Still it was Zoqbi de Paula who was the reason FTC were not already ahead. Her 20th save was a boost for her team in minute 58, when she kept Fleury ahead 27:25. Next Manon Houette struck with her fifth goal from her fifth attempt to take the hosts ahead 28:25. 

The fans started celebrating, but FTC staged an incredible comeback. Nerea Pena and Nadine Schatzl reduced the deficit to 28:27 and a tense last minute followed.

20 seconds before the end Fleury had possession but caused a turnover. FTC coach Elek took his last timeout, adding Anita Cifra as the seventh court player – and Cifra hit the net with the final buzzer to end the match in a draw.

HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs Thüringer HC (GER) 21:27 (13:11)

After losing both group matches against THC in the previous season Podravka were looking for revenge but it was the German champions who emerged victorious 21:27.

Podravka made a great 4:1 start to keep the lead and Croatian goalkeeper Ivana Kapitanovic produced a number of saves that gave the home fans something to cheer as they took a 13:11 lead at the half.

The fans became even more excited when the hosts forged ahead to their first four goal lead at 16:12 this though marked the turning point for the visitors.

Revenge was not to be though as the German side took control and lead by three goals for the first time after a double strike at 24:21. The hosts could not score once more and it was the visitors who gained the crucial victory.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg