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24.02.2019, 20:51
Barça secure first place, book direct quarter-final spot
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GROUP A REVIEW: Barça Lassa win for 11th time, reigning champions Montpellier have one last chance to qualify
 

Barça secure first place, book direct quarter-final spot

With their season on the line, Montpellier HB mounted a challenge but never looked convincing in challenging Barça, who won 36:28, to win the group and a claim a direct quarter-final berth.

  • Aleix Gomez Abello was Barça’s top scorer, with eight goals
  • Spanish side win Group A ahead of final round of games
  • Montpellier must win against Vardar to be sure of proceeding to the next phase

GROUP A
Montpellier HB (FRA) vs Barça Lassa (ESP) 28:36 (12:18)

The title-holders had one of the worst starts in memory for a powerhouse in the VELUX EHF Champions League, but a two-game winning streak at the business end of the group phase meant that they were back on track.

However, losing Diego Simonet - last year’s VELUX EHF FINAL 4 MVP - due to another injury, was far from good news for the French side who had to face the best attack in the competition in Barça, who needed a solitary point to secure first place in the group.

The two teams exchanged quick goals early on, but a 4:0 run from Barça, inspired by wing Aleix Gomez Abello, saw the Spanish side take a commanding 7:3 lead.

Montpellier’s right back and top goalscorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League, Melvyn Richardson, scored three times in the first half, but there was nothing the home side could do to stop their opponents from hitting the back of their net.

The French side’s gameplan relied heavily on defence, but there was nothing it could do to stop Barça, who jumped to a 18:12 half-time lead.

As the French side tried to cut the gap in the second period their opponents continued to run riot in attack, with Gomez Abello and Mem scoring for fun.

A 5:1 run for Montpellier, inspired by Valentin Porte, tied the game at 20:20, but Barça were stronger, tougher and their attack unstoppable, and they moved up through the gears to take an eventual 36:28 convincing win.

“Barcelona are clearly better than us at the moment,” said Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer after the match. “We put a lot of energy in to get back into the match in the first quarter of the second half, but we’re not capable of producing that level of performance over 60 minutes. The final score doesn’t worry me as I rested some players towards the end in view of the coming matches. The most important thing is to know where we want to get to and how we can get there.”

The Spanish side have now won Group A, while Montpellier will fight for the last qualifying place with Brest and Kristianstad, when they play at Vardar in the next, and final, round.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu/amc
 
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