Metz edge closer to EHF FINAL4 after beating FTC
In the first leg of the EHF Champions League Women quarter-finals in Budapest, Hatadou Sako's strong display between the posts secured Metz Handball a 32:26 win over FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria. Ahead of the reverse fixture in France, not only did Metz come closer to their third EHF FINAL4 appearance, they also extended their winning streak to ten. FTC, on the other hand, ended their four-game unbeaten streak and will have to produce their best game of the season if they want to overcome the odds next Sunday.
QUARTER FINALS, FIRST LEG
MOTW: FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Metz Handball (FRA) 26:32 (13:15)
- a strong start allowed Metz to take the lead early and put the pressure on FTC as the Hungarians lacked precision in the first 20 minutes
- the French side's biggest lead of the first half was four goals thanks to a good offensive performance from Bruna de Paula and Kristina Jörgensen, and backed up by Hatadou Sako's 40 per cent save efficiency at the half-time
- FTC stepped it up a gear near the finish of the first half and with the help of Gréta Márton and Blanka Bíró, closed the gap to just one goal
- three new saves by Sako and three counter-attacks at the start of the second half expand the lead to 18:13. This proved to be decisive for Metz's win despite a new set of saves from Bíró which gave a spark of hope for FTC
- Metz finished strong; in three minutes the score stretched from 28:25 to 32:26
- Metz's top scorer, Tamara Horacek ended the game with eight goals and a Player of the Match award
It was a strong performance for Metz in Erd Arena, but the home side was not behind much when it comes to pushing the limits and fighting for the win. However, one name stood out and that is Hatadou Sako. The French goalkeeper had an outstanding day at the office, stopping 19 shots with 45 percent efficiency.
Sako's cold-blooded display between the posts was especially important when FTC narrowed the gap and seemed poise to shift the momentum on three occasions in the game.
On the other side, Blanka Bíró had her moments, including a 15 minute stretch in the second half when she had a save efficiency of 40 per cent. However, the FTC defense was not sufficient enough for her to maintain that same level throughout the match.
I am happy, but this was only the first match, the duel is not over yet, we all know Ferencváros is a great team. We have to prepare for the second match in the same way,
I'm disappointed, I feel that the six-goal difference is too much. We have a big work ahead of us next week, but of course we will try our best. I congratulate to Metz and many thanks to the fans for the atmosphere they created today.