Metz book quarter-final ticket after defeating Rapid
Metz Handball claimed their eighth win in a row in the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 with a narrow 36:34 victory against CS Rapid Bucuresti. The win confirms the French side's place in the quarter-finals and position as group B winners.
While the Romanian side did not let go easily and kept the pressure high in the match, they only led for a short period of time around the 20th minute. Significantly, Metz's goalkeepers helped the French team stay on course to take the important victory.
- with the help of Kristina Jörgensen and Chloé Valentini, Metz were the first side to gain a significant lead
- Ivana Kapitanovic, Metz's former goalkeeper who now wears Rapid's colours, stopped her teammates from last season midway through the first half – allowing her team to turn the tide and gain their first lead in the match (10:9)
- the home team switched to a 5-1 defence, helping Camille Depuiset to make three saves in a row and lift Metz to a three-goal advantage
- Rapid Bucuresti took a risk by playing without the goalkeeper, but the gamble did not pay out. Metz remained in front, but Rapid did not let go easily
- Estavana Polman cut the French side's lead to one goal 10 minutes before the final whistle, but Hatadou Sako ensured that her team had a crucial two-goal lead heading into the last moments of the match
- Eliza Iulia Buceschi brought a glimpse of hope to Rapid by scoring a penalty to make the score 34:35 with a minute to go. Trying to turn the match around, Rapid shifted from a 4-2 to 6-0 defence – but Jörgensen sealed the victory with her penalty shot
The French powerhouse
Metz confirmed why they are considered a powerhouse in Europe's top flight. In their best season in the EHF Champions League Women, the French side have only lost once. Stretching their winning streak to eight on Saturday, Emmanuel Mayonnade's team confirmed their direct quarter-final spot and first place in group B.
After securing a place among the top eight teams via the play-offs in the last two seasons, Metz are celebrating their first direct spot in the quarter-finals, which is only an extension of their top-notch season in the French championship, where they are unbeaten after 12 rounds. Metz will await the winner of the play-off tie between WHC Buducnost BEMAX and the fourth-ranked team of group A.
Credit for the photos in this article: Cedosa380
It was a really tough game because we had some problems with our defence. I think Metz are the more technical team and the defeat came down to small details, because we held on for the whole game. We have difficulties with all the injuries, so we have to work even harder.
It was a very difficult and involved match. Metz are very aggressive and we lacked realism in defence, especially at the end of the first half. We managed to come back after half-time, but we made the same mistakes again. We still played a good match and I'm proud of my team. We never gave up and that's the most important thing.
I am very happy and proud of my team, of the club, because it was very hard and we succeeded. We know what we have to do, we will prepare step by step for the quarter-finals, but for now we will just enjoy!