La Rioja claims top spot, Presov win first matchArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: La Rioja beat Montpellier 31:30 to move to the top of Group C, while Presov jumped off the bottom, after overcoming Metalurg Skopje 27:22 in a great comeback.

La Rioja claims top spot, Presov win first match

After Saturday's set of matches, Group C has a new leader. La Rioja beat Montpellier to move on top, while Presov jumped off the bottom of the group, after overcoming Metalurg Skopje in a great comeback.

  • After Metalurg won in the SEHA League, Presov took revenge at home in Champions League
  • Presov claimed tenth win in their Champions League history
  • La Rioja earned the top spot in the group, after defeating Montpellier 30:29
  • Spanish side showed fast break strength with Mohamed Sanad, a new signing, being a joint top scorer with 7 goals
  • Montpellier faught back after break, but La Rioja won after Jota Gonzalez's time out


TATRAN Presov (SVK) vs HC Metalurg (MKD) 27:22 (11:12)

Despite their bad start, hosts TATRAN Presov showed minute-by-minute improvement to claim their first VELUX EHF Champions League Group Stage win of the season and to move from the bottom of the table past their opponents in Slovakia today.

Macedonian quick start

Presov may have scored the first goal through Jakub Hrstka, but then they were hammered by the visitors with goals coming through one after another. When Nemanja Mladenovic scored his second of the game and made it 9:2 to HC Metalurg in the 14th minute, things looked more than alarming for the hosts, but the Macedonians could only score a further three until half-time as Presov’s nine saw a drama back on the cards.    

Home comeback

As Presov improved in attack, they also managed to improve their defensive performance supported by the reliable Ukrainian duo in goal – Vadym Brazhnyk and Igor Chupryna – as they allowed the Macedonians little since their 9:2 lead.

The aggressive and determined Presov were a completely opposite image to what they show in the first quarter and that stayed until the final buzzer as they added to their tally constantly, taking the lead for the first time shortly after the half-time break.

Learned their lesson

In a great advert for attacking handball play, Jakub Hrstka scored seven goals from the wing for Presov who appeared to learn their lesson after losing against Montpellier last week and improved the areas they needed most.  

Radovan Pekar was back in the line-up for this match, yet Presov were without Lukas Urban through an ankle injury.

Macedonian super talent Filip Taleski fell behind expectations as he scored just four goals compared to his 13 last week.

La Rioja (ESP) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 30:29 (15:12)

Naturhouse La Rioja snatched a very important win today in Palacio de los deportes de la Rioja, defeating the French favourites, Montpellier, with a score of 30:29. This was their first-ever head-to-head European encounter and La Rioja moved to the top of the table with two points.

New signing impact

Mohamed Sanad joined La Rioja in September from the Hungarian club, Sport 36 Komlo and he is already playing a vital role. After four goals in Chekhov, the 25-year-old left winger netted seven times in today´s clash against Montpellier.

On the other side, Michael Guigou, the only 2003 Champions League winner in the current Montpellier squad, proved once again the value he brings to his team with seven goals as the joint top scorer.

Drama of best two

Inarguably La Rioja and Montpellier are two heavy favourites to advance to the next round. They proved it today with spectacular handball, many goals and some great saves from both sides.

In the 40th minute, Michael Guigou equalized after long lead for La Rioja. Jonas Truchanovicius gave Montpellier the lead a minute later, but Jota Gonzalez immediately reacted. Their time out helped, as La Rioja soon took the lead back and held onto to it until the very end, despite Montpellier attempt to keep the match dramatic.

Fast-break goals

La Rioja have out-ran their opponents on fast-break goals (8:4) to build their crucial lead. Quick counter attacks were always a strong weapon of La Rioja, while demonstrating very dynamic, fast-moving handball in front of their own fans.

Aguinagalde Aquizu provided strong support in goal, with Richard Kappeling coming in at the end to save last second effort of Montpellier. Luis Jimenez was on fire from the back court with his powerful left handed strikes.

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik/amc/tm