Montpellier beat Barcelona but Veszprém under pressureArticle
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LAST 16 REVIEW: Montpellier recovered from a shaky start to win the MOTW against Barcelona, while Skjern dominated Telekom Veszprém

Montpellier beat Barcelona but Veszprém under pressure

Despite an early four-goal deficit, Montpellier Handball managed to recover to beat FC Barcelona Lassa by three. Backcourt players Jonas Truchanovicius and Vid Kavticnik were key with eight and four goals respectively.

The victory puts Montpellier in a solid position ahead of their return match in Barcelona next week.

However reaching the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League may be complicated for Telekom Veszprém after a 32:25 away loss to Skjern Handbold.

  • Jonas Truchnovicius was Montpellier’s highest-scoring player
  • Barcelona’s Timothey N'Guessan scored seven goals
  • Skjern take their seventh straight Champions League victory


MOTW: Montpellier HB (FRA) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 28:25 (13:13)

It was a superb way for Montpellier to celebrate their 250th VELUX EHF Champions League game – by beating record title winners FC Barcelona.

If you had looked at the game's first 20 minutes, such a result was far from certain. The French club struggled right from the beginning, unable to stop Timothey N'Guessan’s long range shots.

The right back scored three in a row to give Barcelona the first edge in the game, putting the visitors ahead by three goals after 10 minutes and then by four, 13 minutes later.

At 13:9 to Barcelona Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer chose to use his time-out, which proved to be a game changer. Montpellier's defence became a little bit more aggressive and Vincent Gérard finally started to make saves. Montpellier evened the score right before half-time, thanks to a seven-metre goal from Vid Kavticnik.

The second half was more of the same for Barcelona. Player changes could not help the Spanish side find their rhythm again. On the other hand, Montpellier were running around the court with Diego Simonet delivering assist after assist and Vid Kavticnik and Jonas Truchanovicius finding solutions from long-distance.

After 45 minutes, Montpellier were ahead by three, 21:18, and if it had not been for Gonzalo Perez de Vargas' saves, the lead could have been even bigger. From then on, Montpellier cruised to the end of the game, steadily keeping their advantage without letting Barcelona come back.

With this three-goal win, Montpellier has a tiny advantage that they will have to defend in Palau Blaugrana next Saturday.

“There is a lot of frustration on our side, we made too many mistakes, especially in the second half. Still, we think that three goals is a deficit that we can overcome next Saturday, but we'll have to play a lot better, especially defensively,” said Barcelona right back Dika Mem.

Montpellier left wing Michaël Guigou was clearly pleased with his team's performance.

“Of course it is a great result winning by three, we are happy of that, especially since we were down by four after 20 minutes. But we know how hard it will be to keep it next week, we will have to put on the same performance, individually and collectively,” he said.



Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) 32:25 (17:13)

By scoring the last two goals of the match and reducing a nine-goal deficit to a seven-goal defeat, Veszprém increased their chances of reaching the quarter-finals considerably, but the Hungarian powerhouses are still under pressure before the return match in the Veszprém Arena next Saturday.

Veszprém were missing Laszlo Nagy due to a broken hand. Meanwhile an over-stretched muscle in the thigh limited Skjern veteran Anders Eggert´s activity to shooting penalties – although he achieved 100 per cent accuracy.

The match started evenly, but Skjern quickly moved ahead to a 10:5 lead at which point Veszprém coach Ljubomir Vranjes called a timeout.

This did not help at first, as the home team went on to 13:6, before an improving effort from Roland Mikler in goal allowed Veszprém to come a bit closer by half-time.

Vranjes managed to boost his defence to a certain extent by sending on Patrik Ligetvari from the start of the second half, but the Veszprém defence still had their trouble with Skjern´s backcourt line and line player Bjarte Myrhol in particular.

At the other end of the court, the Hungarian attack also had increasing problems with Skjern´s well-organised defence and goalkeeper Emil Nielsen, and the visitors failed to minimise the gap.

Trailing by six goals at 27:21, Vranjes called his last timeout with 11 minutes left. Despite this, Skjern increased their lead even further to nine goals at 31:22 and 32:23, before Veszprém managed to score those last two goals that could yet prove to be crucial.

Post-match statements

Skjern left back Markus Olsson: “Our goal before the game was to match Veszprém in attack and then to play after our tactics. But we weren’t even dreaming about this result. We succeeded with a lot of things today, and we had the luck and marginals on our side today, while they didn’t.

“It will still be very difficult in Hungary. It is going to be a really tough game for us, but I believe that we can make it down there as well.”

Skjern right bac Kasper Søndergaard Sarup: “We had the opportunity to win with nine goals instead of seven. Of course, we are very happy about the result and with the seven-goal win, but even though we - before the game - had a dream about winning with four or five goals, I think it is okay for us after the game to be annoyed that we didn’t win with nine.

“We played a really good game today. Our defence was very good and we succeeded perfectly with our tactics about getting in their way, so they had to get their shots from the wings. Of course it is impossible to avoid goals from there as well, but I am very satisfied with our tactics, which succeeded very well today. In addition, our fast breaks were better that we have seen in a long time today, and that is also some of the reason for our win today. Without fast break goals today it would have been impossible to get the win we got.”

TEXT: Kevin Domas and Peter Bruun/jh