Hansen and Gensheimer steer PSG to their maiden finalArticle
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SEMI-FINAL 1 REVIEW: Paris win thriller against Veszprém and end the hopes of Javier Sabate to leave with a trophy

Hansen and Gensheimer steer PSG to their maiden final

Second appearance, first final. Paris Saint-Germain Handball are the second French team in Men's EHF Champions League history to make it to a final, after Montpellier went all the way in 2003. PSG won the first semi-final 27:26 at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2017 in Cologne after a true thriller against Telekom Veszprém on Saturday in the jam-packed LANXESS arena.

  • In their fourth-straight appearance in Cologne, Veszprém lose their second semi after a defeat against Kiel in 2014
  • Best PSG scorers were Uwe Gensheimer and Mikkel Hansen with seven goals each
  • Gensheimer now tops the top scorer ranking with 113 goals
  • PSG coach Noka Serdarusic will coach in his third Men's EHF Champions League final after 2007 and 2008 with Kiel
  • PSG players Nikola Karabatic and Thierry Omeyer were finalists and winners with Montpellier in 2003


Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) 26:27 (11:11)

“This was a big fight against a very strong team, we gave more than we had. We found the right solutions in defence, this was the reason for the win,” said PSG goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer, who can win his fifth individual Men's EHF Champions League title on Sunday.

But it was really a high hurdle for PSG to overcome, as Veszprém were still in with a chance of making their third straight final until seven seconds before the end. Paris had been ahead most of the time, but could not cast off their opponents.

There was a clear majority of Veszprém fans in the LANXESS arena, thousands dressed in red and the whole City of Cologne seemed to be in the hands of the Hungarians. The several hundred Paris fans formed the French flag in their section waving club flags before the magnificent opening show started.

After Croatian right back Luka Stepancic scored the first goal of the 2017 edition, PSG were mostly in a narrow lead until Thierry Omeyer - in top form - in the Paris goal helped the French champions up to a three-goal advantage 7:4 (13th minute) for the first time.

In this period, Veszprém were extremely weak in attack, but still had built-up a rock-solid defence. But not all PSG stars were shining straight from the start as the reigning IHF World Handball Player of the Year Nikola Karabatic or fellow stalwart Daniel Narcisse were below par in the first half.

Other teams would have had problems to replace such a top duo, but PSG did not, thanks to their wide and classy squad.

Veszprém ended their downswing soon enough. Some magnificent passes and goals of Mate Lekai, and an improvement from goalkeeper Roland Mikler levelled the match, leaving a half-time result of 11:11 which was deserved. It was the second lowest number of goals in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, only the 10:9 in the 2014 semi-final Barcelona vs Veszprém was lower.

The second half started roller-coaster-like with both teams exchanging strikes, but then Veszprém took the lead at 15:14. Three unanswered goals conceded in the next two minutes saw PSG take the lead again (17:15) and then moments later it was three (19:16) before the side from Hungary caught up thanks to the left-handed stars Gasper Marguc and Laszlo Nagy and then Blaz Blagotinsek equalised with just over 10 minutes to go (22:22).

Paris missed several chances for an earlier decision - Mikkel Hansen failed with a penalty shot against Mikler. But when – with a one-man advantage due to a suspension against Andreas Nilsson – Nikola Karabatic scored his first (and only) goal two minutes before the end, the score was 27:25 – and the winners’ way was paved.

But it was seven seconds before the final buzzer when a missed pass ended all Veszprém hopes finally.

Uwe Gensheimer added seven goals to his season's VELUX EHF Champions League record tally, leading the top scorer ranking with 113 goals currently. Mikkel Hansen hammered in for his team regularly, netting in four of his seven goals in the first half.

Speaking after the game, Uwe Gensheimer was clear with who he thought the difference was in the match. "Both teams fought with everything they had and were equal," he said. "Today Thierry Omeyer was fantastic and he helped us enormously to win this semi-final. It was an intense game with the lucky ending for us but the whole team worked so hard for this."

"Of course it's a huge success for myself but we think as a team and the team did everything to win today - now I hope we can also win in the final and hopefully we can present ourselves tomorrow."

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br