Late but deserved win for Barça in Brest
In the club's first ever EHF Champions League quarter-final, HC Meshkov Brest stood brave and fought brilliantly for 55 minutes on Wednesday, but favourites Barça took home a 33:29 win in the end.
Barça started strong, but from minute 20 on, Meshkov were on the same level, with rising star Mikita Vailupau on fire. But even the right wing's 11 goals were enough for the newly crowned Belarusian champions to stage an upset.
Barça have now won 31 from their last 32 matches in the EHF Champions League.
HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Barça (ESP) 29:33 (16:17)
- Barça, without injured Raul Entrerrios, Blaz Janc and Aitor Arino, pulled ahead 9:4 and 13:7, as the 7-against-6 attempts from Brest, who had to do without key player Marko Panic, faltered
- Meshkov replacing goalkeeper Ivan Pesic, who started with 0 saves from 13 shots, with Ilya Usik, who saved 50% of all shots until the break, changed the game with Mikita Vailupau starring for the hosts
- after the break, Barça led by three goals several times but Pesic's return between the posts boosted Brest
- the hosts had the chance to turn the tide and were still level (28:28) after 55 minutes, though they were never in the lead
- two late goals each from Dika Mem and Aleix Gómez decided the match
What a night for the left-handers
On both sides, left-handed players were the top scorers on Wednesday night. Outstanding Mikita Vailupau netted 11 times to raise his total for the season to 86, just four short of leading scorer Alex Dujshebaev from eliminated Lomza Vive Kielce. The second-best scorer at EHF EURO 2020 behind Sander Sagosen, Vailupau is about to write a new chapter. For Barça, right back Dika Mem (10) and right wing Aleix Gómez (six) were the top scorers, almost netting half of their team's goals this evening.
We started very well, controlled the rhythm. After 20 minutes, Brest had improved their defence and we made some mistakes and the game was equal. In the second half we controlled the game because we wanted to win and didn't think about the difference. It’s very difficult to win in Brest this season.
For us it was a very special situation. It was like climbing the Everest with flip-flops. The only solution was to put some spikes on it. Congratulations to Barca on a well-deserved victory. First 10 minutes they were playing emotional and superior. And after that, our players proved that they are a very special team.