Montpellier still undefeated; Göppingen progress
The seventh round of group A in the EHF European League Men, the first in 2023, was an offensive festival. Two teams reached the 40-goal mark while one passed 35 — and all of them came out victorious.
The flurry of goals made up for the lack of suspense, as the three games played on Tuesday night were essentially one-sided. Göppingen made the most of the evening by booking their tickets to the Last 16, while Schaffhausen, despite losing in Montpellier, got closer to the knockout phase. The Swiss team could book their ticket as early as next week.
Benfica, on the other hand, still need some points in order to progress, but their commanding win against Presov at least pointed them in the right direction.
Fejer B.A.L-Veszprem (HUN) vs Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) 23:40 (11:20)
Just like in the first round, Göppingen easily took the upper hand against Veszprém and reached the 40-goal mark. It took 15 minutes for the visitors to turn the game into a one-sided affair by scoring a 4:0 series in the middle of the first. Leading by nine at the break, Göppingen could open their bench during the second part of the game without taking their feet off the pedal. Four players netted five times for Göppingen: Kevin Gulliksen, Till Hermann, Josip Sarac and David Schmidt.
SL Benfica (POR) vs TATRAN Presov (SVK) 35:28 (21:11)
After three straight losses, Benfica are back on the right track thanks to an easy win against Presov. The Portuguese side took a five-goal advantage within the first 20 minutes. Alexis Borges and Ander Izquierdo were Benfica’s most present offensive assets and their team was already ahead by 10 after the first half. Despite TATRAN right back Nikola Ivanovic’s strong performance (10 goals), Presov were never able to take the upper hand again, allowing their hosts to celebrate their first win in 2023.
After this long period of inactivity, in which we were in our national teams and played a Cup match, the most important thing was to win — that was the big goal. Then the goal was for the team to keep the momentum.
Montpellier HB (FRA) vs Kadetten Schffhausen (SWI) 40:36 (22:18)
Although Schaffhausen did everything in their power to become the first side to make Montpellier fall this season, the Swiss team could not stop the French side’s offensive firepower. With Kyllian Villeminot scoring 10 goals, the group leaders broke away in the first half, taking an advantage of four that would last them until the final whistle. Even though Kadetten came back within two after the break, Montpellier proved to be too strong again.
Usually, Schaffhausen’s Odinn Thor Rikhardsson ends up in the spotlight. But on Tuesday night, the Icelandic right wing saw his spotlight stolen by Kyllian Villeminot. Montpellier’s young centre back might have missed the January World Championship due to a knee injury, but he proved that he has completely recovered. He scored 10 as well as delivering five assists to lead his team to their seventh win in as many European League 2022/23 group phase games.
Photos: Veszprem: Peter Cseh / Benfica / Montpellier