A win - in two halves!

On Wednesday night, Paris Saint-Germain Handball were up against Cesson-Rennes in their Lidl StarLigue Round 9 meeting, a match in which the capital club had to battle hard to get the win.

Slow start

Right from the star, the visitors posed our side plenty of problems. While Luka Stepancic hit back following the Brittany side's opener (2’: 1-1), Cesson quickly made the break (4’: 1-4). The ball just wouldn't seem to go in for the Rouge et Bleu, who hit the frame of the goal several times, and it took all of Mikkel Hansen's skill to get back on track. The Danish international struck with a penalty (5’: 2-4) and then scored on a counter-attack after a fine save from Rodrigo Corrales (7’: 3-4). And then it was Hansen who levelled the score with a shot from distance (11’: 5-5).

Cesson dig in

Despite Paris' leveller, Zvonimir Serdarusic's men continued to commit too many errors, as Mikki's losing possession mid-court illustrated (13’: 5-6). Cesson, in the drop zone coming into the match, had little to lose and played accordingly, making the most of Paris' sloppiness to staying in front - thanks to efforts like Léo Le Boulaire's splendid spin-shot (18’: 7-9). Fortunately, the capital club had in-form 'keeper Corrales to count on, and the Spaniard stopped shots from Benoît Dore and Le Boulaire, allowing Luka Stepancic to get his side back on level terms.

By the skin of their teeth

The Parisians seemed to have learned their lesson and duly took the lead for the first time when Édouard Kempf struck (22': 10-9). But the trend reverted and, faced with the clinical striking of the Brittany side, as well as several saves from Kevin Bonnefoi, Paris went behind once more (26’: 10-12). Just before the break, Nikola Karabatic stepped up Paris' game with a shot from nine metres out (27’: 12-13) and an assist for Kempf (28’: 13-13). Riding his excellent form, the young right-winger then put his side in front once more - just before the buzzer.

Half-time score: 14-13

An ideal re-start

As play resumed, Paris picked up where they left off at the end of the first half. Nedim Remili widened his side's lead to two goals (31’: 15-13), and then three (17’: 17-14). The defence also began to perform better, and whatever breaches the visitors exploited were quickly shored up by Corrales. Meanwhile Niko took full advantage and translated these opportunities into goals, widening the gap (35’: 18-14) and then maintaining it (38’: 20-16). In fine fettle, the elder of the Karabatic brothers then conjured an assist for Jesper Nielsen, who gladly put the ball in the back of the net (40’: 21-16).

Paris take off

The momentum in the match had clearly turned in Paris' favour. Nothing was getting past the Parisian goal-keeping duo of Rodrigo Corrales and Thierry Omeyer, the former proving effective in open play and the latter denying the Cesson attack from successive penalties (43’: 22-17). Supported by their iron-clad defence, Paris went for several minutes without conceding, while at the other end of the court, it was another story completely as Mikki and Jesper stretched the home side's lead (46’: 24-17).

Effective all over the court

The disparity then blew out to nine goals when Nedim rifled home (51’: 27-18) and the result seemed to be beyond doubt. Our players controlled the match perfectly while shining brightly with several stunning moves. Among them, Rodrigo's excellent one-on-one save (54’: 29-20) and Nikola Karabatic's sixth goal (59’: 32-24) stood out. The Parisian playmaker scored his side's final goal, putting the cherry on top of an excellent second-half performance.

Final score: 32-25

Under the cosh for 30 minutes, Paris Saint-Germain Handball hit the ground running in the second half and didn't let up until they had clinched an excellent win against an aggressive defence.

The Parisian scorers:

Mikkel Hansen (7 goals), Nikola Karabatic (6), Luka Stepancic, Nedim Remili, Edouard Kempf (3), Uwe Gensheimer (5), Sander Sagosen, Jesper Nielsen (2), Henrik Mollgaard (1).

The Parisian 'keepers:

Rodrigo Corrales: 20 from 43 (46%), Thierry Omeyer: 1 from 1 (100%).

(Credits: TeamPics/PSG)