Big win before the break
A little over two weeks after they clashed in the Coupe de la Ligue semis (22-27) Paris Saint-Germain Handball and Ivry locked horns once again in their Lidl Starligue Round 20 clash at the Gymnase Auguste Delaune on Wednesday night. Les Rouge et Bleu were looking to tighten their grip on top spot heading into the international break, while Paris-region neighbours Ivry - just two points clear of the drop zone - showed that they know how to dig deep, as they had done in Montpellier two days earlier (30-32).
Although our front line took some time to hit its stride against a solid home defence, our back line were on the ball from the off, Thierry Omeyer making a number of early saves to help Paris Saint-Germain Handball make an early break (6’: 1-4). Little by little, Paris' forwards honed their aim and set about widening the gap with a string of counter-attacks (17’: 5-10). Despite Ivry's fight-back (22’: 10-12), the capital club maintained the upper hand (25’: 11-14) to take a five-point lead into the break (13-18).
Paris got right back to business in the second half, with Luc Abalo racking up the goals (36’: 16-24) to help Paris get to ten goals to the good when Adama Keita, played in by Luka Karabatic, converted yet another counter (43’: 18-28). Les Rouge et Bleu made the derby easy for themselves and took the opportunity to mix style and cutting edge, with Mikkel Hansen producing a sublime no-look pass for Henrik Toft Hansen (48’: 18-31), while Titi denied Mortem Vium's penalty (50’: 18-31) and Lucio produced a superb chabala (53’: 21-34). Towards the end, Sadou Ntanzi made his first appearance with the senior team, taking almost no time to find his feet and score two goals to underline Paris Saint-Germain Handball's dominant display (24-37).
The Parisian in the match:
Luc Abalo shone brightly in his former arena, where he won the French league and was named Player of the Year in 2007. The France international had a superb, scoring 6 from 6 on the counter but also, with plenty of technical flair, with a chabala that beat Rémy Gervelas hands down.
The word: Leaders
On Wednesday evening, Nedim Remili and his teammates accentuated their lead atop the Lidl Starligue standings that little bit more. Indeed, while our team was disposing of Ivry, second-placed Nantes were held 33-33 at home to Saint-Raphaël after Raphaël Caucheteux levelled it on the buzzer. Paris Saint-Germain Handball now have a six-point lead over The H and Montpellier (who beat Toulouse 36-27).
Our players will now swap the red and blue for their respective national-team jerseys as Euro qualifying gets under way. Raul Gonzalez's men will return to competitive action against Montpellier at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin on Saturday, 20 April.