La Rioja stay on top with a win in Elverum, Montpellier with convincing home winArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: La Rioja win in Elverum to stay on top of Group C and Montpellier climb up to the second spot.

La Rioja stay on top with a win in Elverum, Montpellier with convincing home win

La Rioja win in Elverum to stay on top of Group C, Montpellier, with a high win over inexperienced Metalurg, climb up to the second spot and stay in close contest with La Rioja. The difference between the first team and bottom team is only three points.

  • Elverum suffer first home defeat after a win and draw in previous home encounters
  • La Rioja secured the first spot with an away in Elverum, Montpellier climbed up to second
  • First match of Elverum that ended with a goal difference of more than two goals
  • Perfect record for Montpellier in front of home fans – 3 played, 3 victories
  • Very tight group, only 3 points between leader and the bottom

Elverum Handball (NOR) vs La Rioja (ESP) 27:32, 14:16

La Rioja stay on the top of group C with a 27:32 win over Elverum. Norwegians made it very hard for the Logrono team, as they showed they are becoming a mature European sde.

White sea

As announced earlier in the week, fans filled the Terningen Arena in white T-shirts to show the support for their favourite club. Recent results and exciting performances of Michael Apelgren make handball even more popular in the small Norwegian town. They witnessed great handball, with both a number of comebacks and slip ups in the game.

Key figure

Once again, Morten Neergard proved to be the key man for Michael Apelgren with his great saves throughout the whole game. He kept Elverum in the contest for poins until the end. He showed great quality in saves from close range and from the wings. Brazilian left back, Haniel Langao, scored seven from the back court, but was canceled out several times by the Norwegian guard.  

Fast handball

Elverum had troubles with the dynamic handball played by La Rioja. Six fast-break goals on the Spanish side, compared to zero fast-break goals from Elverum speaks to the different approach of both teams. Pressure from the wing and the number of turnovers (9 by La Rioja) made the difference in the second half.

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs Metalurg Skopje (MKD) 28:18, 13:12

The French Powerhouse recorded the highest win in the current campaign to stay in contact with the first placed La Rioja. Metalurg paid the price for a difficult schedule, but despite the defeat, they are only three points behind the leader of the group.

Close first half

The young Macedonian team kept it close in the first half, as they were ahead until the 20th minute. The Serbian right back, Vojislav Brajovic, scored four of his total six goals in the opening twenty minutes. As time progressed, Montpellier settled more and more in the match and could punish the opponent's mistakes. The biggest threat of the Macedonians came from Brajovic in the back court and Peshevski on the line.

Attack efficiency

The main difference in the match was in the attack efficiency. While Montpellier had 72% attack efficiency, Metalurg had only 35%. Six goals in the second half is a very poor attacking display from Lino Cervar´s men. Filip Taleski, the best scorer of Metalurg, recorded six unsuccessful efforts on goal, the most from all the players on the court.

Second half dominance

The lack of experience from most of the players, injured players and an improved Montpellier squad, lead to the key factors of their second half demolition. Montpellier were all over their opponents. The goaltenders of the French side also had a very good day, as the defence worked well to put pressure on Metalurg players. Vid Kavticnik and Mathieu Grebille were the most productive Montpellier players from the back court, both with five goals.

Said after the game:

Montpellier coach, Patrice Canayer: I'm happy with the result; a ten-goal margin is good. We are finding more and more stability in defence, even if we are still having to improve in our fast play. The group is of a similar standard, so we must win all our home games and try to win away, too. 

HC Metalurg coach, Lino Cervar: Montpellier were simply better than us. We were missing some injured players, but my young team played a good first half in attack and defence. I hope we'll play the whole match next time, but we need to work and work.

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik/tm