Experience sees PSG through!
Following an excellent return to action in the Coupe de France away to Ajaccio in mid-week (17-42), the Rouge et Bleu hit the ground running in Slovenia. Tough in defence and razor-sharp up front, they steadily carved out a lead as the minutes ticked by (4’: 1-3). The pivots linked up superbly with the back-line, with Parisian giants Jesper Nielsen (6’: 2-3) and Luka Karabatic (12’: 6-10) hitting the target following excellent service.
The Group B leaders were soon well out in front (15’: 7-12) but playmaker Nikola Karabatic wasn't about to stop there. The Frenchman, who has once again been nominated for the IHF Player of the Year award, ran riot and scored from all kinds of situations, be it from an angled shot (19’: 9-13) or a counter-attack following a save from Rodrigo Corrales (23’: 9-16). Despite a home-side fight-back late in the first half, the capital club went into the break with a handy lead (13-17).
Zvonimir Serdarusic's men may not have been quite so clinical early in the second half, but their confidence in defence kept them in front on the scoreboard, with Rodrigo methodically breaking down his opponents' attacks (33’: 13-17). The recently crowned European Champion had plenty of help from his defenders, with Niko intercepting and releasing Sander Sagosen to score on the counter (40’: 15-20) and Luka Stepancic diving to stop a long-range shot from bouncing into an empty net (43’: 16-20).
However, the sides continued to trade blows and the result was far from certain, although Uwe Gensheimer gave something of a hint as he put away yet another one of his patented spin-shots (48’: 19-23). Still, it wasn't enough to kill off the match, and Branko Tamse's men, led by the clinical Borut Mackovsek, hit back hard in the final ten minutes (55’: 23-26). But the experience of Nikola Karabatic (58’: 25-30) and Daniel Narcisse tipped the scales in Paris' favour and the visitors ran out five-goal winners (26-31).
Faced with an excellent Celje side, who once again refused to take it lying down, Paris Saint-Germain Handball took both points and confirmed their status as Group B leaders. They will be looking to stay on top next Saturday as they take on nearest rivals Flensburg.
The Parisian scorers:
Uwe Gensheimer (7 goals), Nikola Karabati (5), Luka Karabatic (4), Luka Stepancic, Luc Abalo (3), Daniel Narcisse, Jesper Nielsen (2), Sander Sagosen, Benoît Kounkoud, Nedim Remili (1).
The Parisian 'keeper:
Rodrigo Corrales: 13 from 39 (33%)