On course for top spot
On Saturday evening Paris Saint-Germain Handball took a big step towards clinching top spot in Velux EHF Champions League Group B, claiming a 38-28 win over Skjern in a dominant Round 10 display at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.
Even though Les Rouge et Bleu needed just a single point form the match to qualify, Raul Gonzalez's men weren't about to do the bare minimum. Instead, they turned on the style right from the off, Uwe Gensheimer hitting a trademark spin-shot (3’: 2-1), Thierry Omeyer pulling off a superb save (4’: 3-1) and Sander Sagosen conjuring a beguiling behind-the-back pass that Henrik Toft Hansen gladly converted into a goal (12’: 7-5). However, as was the case when the sides met earlier in the campaign, the Danish side showed enough fight to keep Paris within arm's reach (17’: 10-9). But all good things come to those who wait, and this was certainly the case for the Parisians. Little by little, they chipped away at their lead (21’: 14-10) as the visitors' defence began to open up, with Luka Stepancic taking advantage and putting his side six goals to the good (25’: 16-10), a margin his side maintained through to the break (19-13).
As the second half began, Paris Saint-Germain Handball continued to build on their advantage, thanks in no small part to the in-form Uwe (36’: 23-16). The German international was on fire (9 from 10), his stunning kung-fu bringing the Coubertin faithful to their feet (42’: 26-19).
Our fans barely had time to sit back down before Mikkel Hansen produced a deft spin-shot (43’: 27-19), while Skjern, despite playing with seven attackers, couldn't find any gaps in our defence and their shots, often long in the making, were mostly saved by Titi (48’: 30-21). This overall solidity saw the capital club go ten goals clear (52’: 34-24) and keep the match by the scruff of the neck through to the final buzzer (38-28).
Unlike in the first meeting between the sides this season, when Paris Saint-Germain Handball had to fight tooth and nail for the result (24-26), this time Les Rouge et Bleu quickly got the measure of their visitors. The win officially qualified Paris for - at minimum - a place in the last 16, and took them three points clear of second-placed Szeged, leaving their chances better than ever of locking up top spot and moving directly through to the quarter-finals.
The Parisian scorers:
Uwe Gensheimer (9 goals), Sander Sagosen (8), Mikkel Hansen, Nedim Remili (4), Henrik Toft Hansen, Luka Stepancic (3), Benoît Kounkoud (2), Luc Abalo, Adama Keita (1).
The Parisian 'keeper:
Thierry Omeyer: 12 from 41 (29%).