Champions fall at the death
On Sunday afternoon, Paris Saint-Germain Handball played their first match after being crowned 2018-19 Champions of France. Three days after their win in Aix, they travelled to another southern French location for their Lidl Starligue Round 23 fixture - the Palais des sports J-F. Krakowski to face Saint-Raphaël, who were fighting for a place in the top 6.
The home side started strongly and obliged Raup Gonzalez to take a time out early on in the piece (2’: 3-0). The Spanish coach's words had the desired effect and, after a few minutes of adjustment, Paris were back in the match thanks to the clinical prowess of Uwe Gensheimer, playing on the right wing (8’: 5-5). They quickly made up the deficit and had several chances to take control of the match. However, Adrien Dipanda, who made a superb save, Mihai Popescu and the Saint-Raphaël cross-bar decided otherwise (14’: 9-9). The capital club finally managed to get out in front (16’: 9-10) and went two goals up when Sander Sagosen struck on a counter (23’: 12-14). But a long dry spell in attack in the final minutes of the first half saw SRVHB get back on level terms just before the break.
The second half saw the sides slug it out blow for blow (37’: 18-18), with Joël Da Silva's side leading the dance (42’: 22-20) without managing to break free (45’: 24-22). But the match seemed capable of turning in either direction at any point, with Thierry Omeyer crucially preventing Saint-Rapahël from going four goals to the good (49': 26-23). With the final minutes approaching, suspense still reigned (51’: 27-25) and Les Rouge et Bleu, looking to maintain their undefeated record in the league this season, gave their absolute all. Nedim Remili struck a powerful goal (57’: 30-29) and Uwe chimed in with a trademark spin-shot (58’: 30-30) but, unfortunately, Raphaël Caucheteux (14 goals) and his teammates made the difference in the dying seconds and Paris lost by a whisker (33-31).
The Parisian in the match: Nedim Remili
Despite the defeat, Nedim Remili turned in a superb performance. The Parisian right-back hit the back of the net seven times, which allowed him, once again, to top score for the capital club. He has 115 goals for the season.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball fell to their first Lidl Starligue defeat of the season - and their first league defeat since December 2017 (33-30 in Montpellier). Les Rouge et Bleu have no match to play next week, but will return to the court and their hometown fans at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin on 22 May as Nîmes come calling for their Lidl Starligue Round 24 fixture. It will be Paris' first home match since being crowned Champions of France.
(Credits: J. Azouze/PSG)