Paris take control!

Paris Saint-Germain Handball played host to Veszprém, on Sunday afternoon, in the highlight of the Velux EHF Champions League Round 7 fixture list. The Rouge et Bleu turned in a huge performance to leapfrog their opponents into top spot in Group B (33-28).

An ideal start

In an arena that featured the presence of the Ultras, our players started the match in the best possible way. In defence, Thierry Omeyer distinguished himself early and often and helped his side make an early break (3’: 2-0). In attack, Sander Sagosen was in fine fettle, hitting three early goals - including one that saw him skin two defenders before hitting the back of the net (8’: 6-4). Nedim Remili rounded out the near-perfect start with a superb hip-shot from nine metres out (10’: 6-4).

Firing on all cylinders

Faced with one of Europe's toughest defences, the Rouge et Bleu showed they are no slouches in the department. Paris' six defenders were up to the task, stymying many of the Hungarian side's attacks. But even when the visitors forced the foul from our back line, Titi was on hand to fill the breach, saving a penalty from Momir Ilic (13’: 8-6), a point-blank shot from Mate Lekai (14’: 9-6) and an effort from Tönnesen (15’: 10-6). The Parisian forwards, meanwhile, were clinical and it was no surprise that the lead kept growing, reaching four goals when Jesper Nielsen struck with a hot on the turn (20’: 12-8).

Paris cut loose

Veszprém continued to struggle to find solutions as Dejan Manaskov also saw his penalty denied by Omeyer (24’: 14-10). At the other end of the pitch - even when reduced to five men - our players were inventive: an off-balance Nikola Karabatic found a way to unleash a shot that found the back of the net despite Mirko Alilovic's best efforts (27’: 17-12); and Jesper Nielsen struck with a lobbed effort - with his back to goal (28’: 18-13)! And their clinical form in front of the Hungarian goal continued through to the half-time buzzer.

Half-time score: 19-14

Paris power on

While Veszprém looked to be getting the better of things as the second half began, scoring twice through Momir Ilic and Ugalde Garcia (32’: 19-16), things quickly turned back in Paris' favour - notably because two of the home side's first-half stand-outs continued to shine. Sander Sagosen cooked up excellent assists for Uwe Gensheimer (33’: 20-16) and Nikola Karabatic (34’: 21-16), while Thierry Omeyer saved yet another penalty, this time denying Dragan Gajic. Everything seemed to be going Paris' way, and even when Uwe saw his effort from seven metres parried by Roland Mikler, the German international struck with the follow-up, improvising a superb spin-shot from the rebound (37’: 22-18).

Hungarian fight-back

However, the Rouge et Bleu often found themselves reduced to six men, and the hUngarian attack made the most of their opportunities to reduce the deficit (39’: 22-20). A few moments later, and despite the efforts of Sander Sagosen (41’: 24-21) and Nikola Karabatic (43’: 25-22), Tönnesen got his side well and truly back into the match (45’: 25-24) and the tide seemed to be turning. Mikler made a number of saves (49’: 26-25), but thankfully his Parisian counterpart wasn't about to take it lying down and promptly denied Mate Lekai with a crucial save. Mikkel Hansen compounded Omeyer's excellence with a fine strike and gave the home side some breathing room (50’: 28-25).

Kempf seals the deal

The tension became palpable as the second ticked down, and tempers began to fray. Ilic and Sagosen were both sent for spells on the bench after several minutes of niggle between them. However, this did nothing to put Edouard Kempf off his game. The young right-winger soaked up the pressure and went about his business, making the difference single-handed in the final stage (56’: 31-27). He scored no fewer than six goals in the final ten minutes, earning an ovation from the Coubertin crowd. Thanks to this thundering finish, and one final goal from our U19 World Champion, Paris ran out winners after a hell of a battle.

Final score: 33-28

In front of their loyal fans, who showed up in numbers - 3,004 of them, a season record - Paris Saint-Germain Handball got the better of Veszprém in this top-of-the-table Group B clash, thanks to a strong team ethic and a ready supply of individual brilliance. Nikola Karabatic earned the praise of the EHF, who named him Man of the Match. The Rouge et Bleu are now Group B leaders, and will travel to Hungary for the reverse fixture next week.

The Parisian scorers:

Nikola Karabatic (8 goals), Sander Sagosen, Edouard Kempf (6), Mikkel Hansen, Jesper Nielsen (3), Nedim Remili (4), Uwe Gensheimer (2), Benoît Kounkoud (1).

(Credits: TeamPics/PSG)