GROUP 1 REVIEW: Metz secured first place in the group following a win in the French derby against Brest, and following a win at Buducnost, Rostov are certain to finish in second place
Metz secure first place after all-French tie, while Rostov finish second
In the reverse fixture in Brest, Metz had been too strong for their fellow French team, winning 31:20. Now the Group 1 leaders claimed an even bigger victory, 39:26, and secured the top position in the group.
Metz Handball (FRA) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) 39:26 (17:13)
Although the two French sides are at opposite ends of the table, it was hard to tell on court during the opening ten minutes. However, Metz then moved the score from 4:4 to 10:5 – very much thanks to the unstoppable Manon Houette, who scored six of team’s ten goals by that point.
Grace Zaadi’s impact helped the hosts to increase their lead to 15:8 by the 20th minute, but they slowed down and netted just twice for the rest of the first half, so Brest cut the deficit to 17:13.
However, the visitors lost their playmaker Alison Pineau through an injury shortly before the break. And in the second half, Brest lost too many balls, which allowed Metz to score one goal after another from fast breaks.
The home team’s victory did not cause the slightest doubt long before the final buzzer, but Metz did not relax their approach and ultimately won by 13 goals, 39:26.
Buducnost (MNE) vs Rostov-Don (RUS) 20:23 (9:11)
Both teams could not rely on their key players in this match – Rostov’s Anna Vyakhireva is still sidelined after an injury, and so are Buducnost’s Djurdjina Jaukovic and Milena Raicevic.
Their absence weakened the attack of both teams, and while Buducnost’s Katarina Bulatovic stepped up to net seven times against her former team, none of Rostov players scored more than three goals.
Despite that, the visitors put on a better team performance, which helped them to claim two important points. They took an early 4:2 lead, and although Bulatovic’s impact saw the Montenegrin team fight back to 5:4, Rostov had the upper hand late in the first half to lead by two goals at the break.
The tight fight continued well into the second half, but ten minutes from the buzzer, Iuliia Managarova increased Rostov’s lead to four goals (18:14) for the first time in the match.
Five minutes later, Buducnost almost drew level at 19:18, yet Rostov stood strong. Galina Mekhdieva saved a penalty from Katarina Bulatovic, while Kseniya Makeeva scored two late goals, and the Russian champions celebrated a hard-fought victory.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/at
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