Narcisse ends his international career victorious; Gensheimer takes top scorer spotArticle
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3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH REVIEW: Paris take third position at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2018 after a hard-earned 29:28 victory against Vardar
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Narcisse ends his international career victorious; Gensheimer takes top scorer spot

Thanks to the ninth goal from Nedim Remili, Paris Saint-Germain Handball secured third position at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2018 – just as they did on their first appearance two years ago. Defending champions Vardar were ahead for most of the match, but Paris struck back in the final stages.

• After contributing four goals, Uwe Gensheimer reaches first position on the top scorer list for the VELUX EHF Champions League 2017/18 with a total of 92 for the season
• Daniel Narcisse scores one goal in the last international match of his career
• For the second time, after Kiel in 2013, the defending champions finish fourth at the VELUX EHF FINAL4
• Nedim Remili is the top scorer of the match with nine goals

Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 29:28 (14:15)

The defending champions will leave Cologne without a victory: After Vardar won both matches in 2017 by one goal, this year they lost both matches by the same margin (27:28 in the semi-final against Montpellier).

By scoring for the intermediate score of 7:8, Uwe Gensheimer took first place on the VELUX EHF Champions League top scorer list and looks set to take the individual award for the third time in his career, after 2011 and 2017. His nearest rival still to play is Nantes’ Nicolas Tournat, who is not likely to catch Gensheimer in the final.

"I'm not happy at all about being the topscorer. I said it last year but I would exchange it for the big trophy over there immediately if I could. Maybe you should learn how to be pleased by smaller things...(laughs)," German left winger said.

The German-born left wing would be the first player to defend his title as top scorer since the implementation of the FINAL4. Funnily enough, Danish-born Füchse Berlin wing Hans Lindberg became the first to defend his EHF Cup top scorer award last week in Magdeburg.

The Gensheimer goal for 7:8 was part of PSG’s comeback after Vardar started furiously pulling ahead to a 7:3 advantage, despite needing to replace FINAL4 2017 MVP Arpad Sterbik due to an injury. The influential goalkeeper was replaced by Martin Popovski.

Paris were quite shaky to start the match, but then improved. When Nikola Karabatic netted for 10:10, the score board was level for the first time – and from that moment on, neither team managed to cast off their opponents.

Right after the break, Vardar forged ahead thanks to a double strike for 17:14 and kept this distance for some minutes, before PSG again struck back to equalise at 20:20. Vardar were weakened by a red card against Jorge Maqueda after three suspensions – and from that moment on, the match was on the edge.

Vardar took the lead, but in the next attack, Paris levelled. The French fans – not only those from PSG – went crazy when Daniel Narcisse scored his first (and only) goal at the VELUX EHF FINAL 2018, for 23:23, in what was the last international match of his career. When goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales saved a penalty off Ivan Cupic in the next attack, PSG grabbed the chance to take their second advantage in the match, after 12:11, as powerful right back Nedim Remili took them to 24:23 in minute 53. Paris kept this lead until the end, and it was Remili’s ninth strike for 29:27 that finally decided the thriller.

"Well, it's over. It's crazy and very hard to explain. I wished I had won that title one last time but that's just the sport. It was hard coming back today after this defeat yesterday but I'm proud of this team that we could win the last game," Narcisse said after the game.

"I can't complain about my career, it was an amazing time and not everyone has the chance to win so many titles and play in so many amazing teams. I'm incredibly thankful and lucky. Now I'm full with emotions but this game was definetely not easy today, also for me as a not-so-extremely-young-player (laughs)," he added.

Ivan Cupic, who scored the deciding goal one year before commented: “We played well, both teams played well. It was a strong fight for the third place between two strong teams. Everything was working fine, the game involved a lot of running, at the end we lost a lot of strength, we lost our focus in the defence. It was obvious that they played few hours before us yesterday, we were a bit weaker physically. There were few bad decisions in the defence, few in the offence, I missed an important penalty, all those things mattered. Last year we played amazing handball and we were lucky to win both games with one goal difference. This year our luck turned.”

Photo: EHF / Heimken, Hocevar, Lämmerhirt, Stadler

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg