Everything still to be decided between Plock and Nantes
The third match of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League play-offs delivered an amazing thriller, which remained undecided until the final seconds. Although Nantes had the upper hand in the first half, taking an advantage as big as four goals thanks to Viktor Hallgrímsson, the hosts clearly took the momentum after the break.
With Dmitry Zhitnikov and Sergei Kosorotov in charge offensively, Orlen Wisla Plock came back into the game, levelling the score early in the second half. The Polish side even had the opportunity to win, but Hallgrímsson stopped Zhitnikov’s potential game-winner.
PLAY-OFFS, FIRST LEG
- Nantes had the best start, taking a three-goal advantage early on, thanks to Valero Rivera and Thibaud Briet
- although Plock breathed down their opponents’ necks throughout the first 30 minutes, Viktor Hallgrímsson did wonders between Nantes’ posts, helping his team score a 3:0 series in the last four minutes of the half
- with Michal Daszek and Dmitry Zhitnikov taking their responsibilities for Plock and scoring twice each, the hosts levelled the score, just six minutes after coming back on court
- the second half saw the two teams playing back and forth, without either being able to take the upper hand. The gap remained just a single goal from the 40th minute on
- Thibaud Briet scored his third goal to make the score 32:32 with 30 seconds to play, before Hallgrímsson stopped Zhitnikov’s last attempt
- the two teams will play the second leg in Nantes next Wednesday
All in all, a very even game
The numbers say it all. Nantes won the first half 18:14, and Plock won the second one with the exact same score. Both had the momentum for 30 minutes, as Viktor Hallgrímsson and Valero Rivera helped the visitors break away before the break.
The Russian duo of Zhitnikov and Kosorotov took things in hand for the hosts after the break, with Plock closing in on the scoreboard. Whether Plock will be able to deliver the same kind of performance next week away remains to be seen, but for now, both teams can be quite satisfied with this draw.
It was a tough match and a fantastic spectacle. We played a good game, especially in the second half where we made fewer mistakes - especially in attack. We played well in defence, which I'm happy about and I wanted to congratulate my players, because to achieve such a result and play against a team of such a level as HBC Nantes is a feat. We have to prepare for the next game, we are still in the game - that was our goal today.
I am very happy that I could return to Plock and play today in the Orlen Arena and finally see the atmosphere created by the fans, because frankly speaking I have never had such an opportunity to play with such a great atmosphere. Regarding the match, I think we played a good game, especially in the first half, and in the second half we made some mistakes that we were punished for, but we didn't put our heads down and we didn't lose our focus, which gave us a draw.