Fall at the death
Don't bother looking too far, the biggest thing on the weekend's handball landscape, was played on Sunday afternoon at Stade Pierre de Coubertin, on Matchday 11 of the Velux EHF Champions League, between Paris Saint-Germain Handball and Barcelona. The stakes were high for both sides! While the Catalans, if they won, could consolidate their position as leaders in Group A (directly qualifying for the quarter-finals), Les Rouge et Bleu had the opportunity to land an important blow: With a win, they would overtake their rivals. A five-goal win would also give him the advantage over the head to head record (36-32 in the first leg).
While the club from the French capital started the match the better (3': 2-0), it was an even start (6': 3-3). The atmosphere electric in the stands of Coubertin and our arena kept heating up when Rodrigo Corrales stopped two 7m jets in the first 10 minutes (10': 4-4). To counter Barcelona, Les Rouge et Bleu set the pace against a team that is used to imposing its own. The quick team play soon paid dividends (16': 11-8). But even under these conditions, the Blaugranas are not easy to shake loose (23': 14-14). Paris then opted for a more aggressive defence, replaced by an almost perfect Rodri (25': 14-14). He also looked to attack from distance, such as Sander Sagosen's powerful shot (28': 16-15). However, at the break, the meeting was still as close as ever (30': 17-16).
The second half was very tricky for the Parisians, who conceded a 4-0 run. An offensive drought that forced Raul Gonzalez to call a time-out (32': 17-20). The Spanish technician made his attack with seven outfield players, and in a few moments, our team was back together again (36': 20-20). Everyone was giving it everthing in a pulsating match (45': 27-27). Even when one of the two teams broke away (46': 27-29), the other one came back almost immediately (47': 29-29). As the final buzzer drew near, it was difficult to know what the outcome would be be (53': 31-31). Despite Vincent Gérard's good start, who in turn pushed back two penalties, the end of the match was complicated by a double numerical penalty for Paris (57': 32-33). It was too much to overcome for Les Rouge et Bleu (32-35).
A Parisian of the match: Sander Sagosen
Despite the defeat, Sander Sagosen was excellent. His great performance saw him top scorer of the match. The Norway international netted with eight of his nine attempts.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball will now turn to a week of cup action. On Thursday, they will host Montpellier, at the Stade Coubertin, for the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals. On Sunday afternoon, they will travel to neighbour Pontault-Combault, for their first appearance in the Coupe de France (Round of 32).