Paris punch their ticket for the quarter-finals

Paris Saint-Germain Handball secured their place in the EHF Champions League quarter-finals with a 34-33 victory over Wisla Plock at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin on Thursday evening.

After winning the first leg in Poland (26-30), the capital club met Wisla Plock at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin on Thursday, with a place in the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League at stake. Thanks to sparkling performances from Kamil Syprzak and Elohim Prandi, both scorers of eight goals at the Orlen Arena, Les Rouge et Bleu started with a four-goal advantage, and were keen to finish the job in front of their home crowd.

In an atmosphere fit for a European showpiece, Les Rouge et Bleu stepped up from the start, with Elohim Prandi twice finding the back of the net. The French international gave his team their first break (4': 4-2). With a four-goal deficit after the first leg, Wisla Plock were determined to give it their all and close the gap. However, the Blue and Whites lacked precision, hitting Jannick Green's post three times in quick succession (9': 5-5). Warnings soon turned into penalties for the capital club, who conceded three unanswered goals and found themselves trailing as the end of the first quarter of an hour approached (13': 6-8).

As had been the case in the first leg, Paris showed calm and serenity, relying on the many talents present on the court. A brace from Elohim, followed by a save from Jannick, put Les Rouge et Bleu back in front (17': 10-9)! Having not conceded a goal for six minutes, the Parisians were taking control of the first half (21': 13-10). Starved of options, Xavier Sabate decided to stop play in an attempt to get the match back on track. The Les Rouge et Bleu also benefited from this time-out, however, with David Balaguer scoring twice to extend their lead as play resumed (25': 17-13). After a well-controlled first half, Paris deservedly took a three-goal lead into the break (30': 18-15).

After the break, Paris came back with the same intentions and Elo' continued his scoring spree with a sixth goal from as many attempts (32': 20-16). Les Rouge et Bleu also showed great defensive solidity, with Jannick making two fine saves (35': 23-19). Raul Gonzalez's men managed go further in front thanks to David Balaguer, who hit an impeccable 6 from 6 (40': 25-19). In the last quarter of an hour, Plock took advantage of any let-up in the Rouge et Bleu rearguard to make up some of their deficit, prompting a first time-out from Raul Gonzalez (49': 28-26).

The Poles were far from giving up in final minutes, however, and managed to get back on level terms for a thrilling end to the match (55': 30-30). Struggling in the final minutes, the Parisians regained the lead thanks to a superb interception by Nikola Karabatic, before Jannick put an end to the Poles' hopes with a last-gasp save (57': 33-30). Raul Gonzalez's men were in control throughout the double-header, beating Wisla Plock again at Coubertin (34-33) and will now face Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League.


(Credits: L. Valroff/ Team