Vardar end two series in one match
Eight unbeaten matches in a row on one hand and seven straight defeats on the other — and both series ended in one match: HC Vardar shocked Montpellier HB on French ground with an impressive 28:25 victory and took their first points since 29 September after losing all seven group matches since then.
The two French players Olivier Nyokas (five goals) and Jeremy Toto (four goals) were among Vardar’s top scorers, but mainly the defence was the key for the 2017 and 2019 EHF Champions League winners. Even more impressive is that it was Vardar’s first away victory in the Champions League in almost a year, after winning 35:32 at Elverum on 24 February 2021.
Montpellier were defeated for the first time since 22 September, when they had lost 28:36 at Aalborg, which was followed by seven victories and the lucky draw against Brest in December.
- despite the defeat, Montpellier remain on top of the group, but are now equal with Aalborg. Vardar sent an important sign of life, passing Zagreb to become the new sixth-ranked side with seven points now
- Montpellier were ahead only once in the whole match — at 6:5 — while Vardar stood extremely strong in defence and worked well as a team in attack, with 10 different players on the scoreboard after 30 minutes
- Montpellier’s re-start in the second half was even worse — thanks to Frenchmen Olivier Nyokas and their still solid-rock defence, Vardar pulled ahead to 20:13, causing an early timeout from MHB coach Patrice Canayer in minute 40
- while Vardar goalkeeper Martin Tomovski was perfectly supported by his defenders — and finished with 13 saves — Montpellier’s goalies were left alone and did not have their best day
- intermediately, the hosts reduced the gap to 20:24, but then a double strike from Vardar team captain Stojanche Stoilov sealed the sensational deal, as he scored for 26:21 four minutes before the end
Perfect start for David Davis
Following their series of defeats in the EHF Champions League, HC Vardar and coach Veselin Vujovic went separate ways in December. After two weeks in which many potential names were mentioned in the media, David Davis returned to Skopje.
The Spaniard, who was three-time Champions League winner with Ciudad Real and former assistant coach of the Vardar men’s and women’s teams, was coaching Telekom Veszprém until the end of last season. Davis was sacked from Veszprém after missing the EHF FINAL4 and losing the Hungarian league finals against Szeged. The former Egyptian national team coach started his second mission at Vardar with a completely different defence — and an impressive result.
This is a great result. It’s always good to come and win in France. We had a very disappointing start to the season, which didn’t correspond at all to our expectations, but since David [Davis] arrived he has given each player a mission and we have buckled down to achieve what he’s asked of us. This is one good result, but we must now continue to put together a series of wins.