Nantes increase lead over Aalborg after MOTW victory
HBC Nantes underlined their ambitions in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League with another brilliant performance in the Match of the Week on Wednesday evening against Aalborg Håndbold.
As Aalborg only led once in the whole match, at 1:0, the French side took two important and deserved points with a 35:32 victory. With 10 points on their account, Nantes are level with Lomza Industria Kielce – at least for the next 24 hours. Aalborg remain fourth on seven points.
- boosted by Thibaud Briet (five goals before the break) and Valero Rivera (four goals), Nantes were constantly ahead in the first 30 minutes, which was highlighted by full-speed handball from the hosts and the visitors
- therefore, both goalkeeping duos did not have that much impact on the first half: Simon Gade/Michael Aggefors (Aalborg) and Viktor Hallgrímsson/Ivan Pesic (Nantes) were below 20 per cent of shots saved before the break
- when Nantes forged ahead to lead 24:19, Aalborg’s coach Stefan Madsen took an early time-out, which worked after a small delay. His side levelled the score at 28:28 after a period when Norwegian left wing Sebastian Barthold was on fire
- Nantes were shaken but struck back to restore a three-goal margin again when Portuguese left back Alexandre Cavalcanti, who was awarded Player of the Match after his six goals, decided the duel at 34:31
- the best scorers were Valero Rivera, who scored eight goals for Nantes, and Sebastian Barthold, who had seven strikes for Aalborg
Aalborg's home strength seems to be gone
Last season, Aalborg finished the group phase with seven wins in a row to finish on top of their group. One reason why the Danish side enjoyed their longest winning run was their incredible home strength in their permanently sold-out arena.
This season, despite the signing of superstar Mikkel Hansen, home matches do not seem to be an advantage for the Danish league runners-up. The 32:35 loss against Nantes in the Match Of The Week was their third consecutive home defeat. Of course, they have also duelled with last season’s finalists: Barça and Kielce.
A pretty good handball game with two teams who made a lot of goals, but in our defence, we were not good enough today and they just came with more power especially in the beginning of the game.
I think we played a good game tonight. Aalborg is one of the best teams in this group and we are really really happy to win this match. I am proud of my team. I think we controlled the game.