Nantes record MOTW win to put Cologne in sight
Veszprém had won their last five EHF Champions League matches, including both play-off matches against HC Vardar, while HBC Nantes had only won only two of their home matches in Europe's top flight this season.
On Thursday night, however, the French side produced by far their best home performance of the season, beating the four-time EHF Champions League finalists, 32:28.
QUARTER-FINAL FIRST LEG
MOTW: HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) 32:28 (16:12)
- Veszprém led 10:7 and were in full control until the 16th minute
- with Emil Nielsen improving his performance, Nantes first bridged the gap and then enjoyed a 5:0 run to lead 12:10
- After three crucial goals from Kiril Lazarov and thanks to Valero Rivera’s coolness from the seven-metre line, Nantes were ahead by four goals at the break, while Veszprém had lost their rhythm and confidence completely
- in the second half, Veszprém’s scoring efficiency from the back court positions decreased as an outstanding performance from Emil Nielsen frequently denied them, while Nantes’ attack scored like Swiss clockwork for their first seven-goal lead at 22:15.
- Veszprém reduced Nantes’ lead to 26:23, but the home side answered with a 5:1 run to restore their seven-goal lead (31:24) as the teams entered the closing stages
- Emil Nielsen finished with 15 saves and was awarded the Player of the Match award
Nantes are back when it counts
Apart from a sensational 35:27 victory against THW Kiel, HBC Nantes had a terrible start to the group phase.
However, the turning point came after their lowest moment – a 30:28 home defeat against Celje – as three victories, a draw against defending champions THW Kiel and a close defeat against Barça followed.
Nantes eliminated Kielce in the play-offs, and with a win in the first leg of the quarter-finals against Veszprém, they are on fire and are perhaps stronger than they were in 2018.
I’m really satisfied by my guys. After 10 minutes of stress, we played better, faster and we did what we expected, even if we suffered in the last minutes. Nevertheless, it’s only half-time and we have to play in the same manner next week.
We are still alive. We knew that Nantes are playing very well, but at home with our public we can do it!