EHF Champions League - Vardar continue perfect start to title defence

The defending VELUX EHF Champions League winners are the only team in Group A that has won its first two games in the group this season. HC Vardar were up against the only other victorious side from the first round in the group, HBC Nantes, and celebrated the two points with a four-goal victory, 27:23.

Meanwhile IFK Kristianstad played a gutsy game against FC Barcelona Lassa but the hosts' finish proved too strong for the Swedish club. In Zagreb, MOL-Pick Szeged made up for their round 1 loss with a five-goal away win.
  • Vardar and Nantes were the only two teams in group A that won their games in the first round
  • Vardar built up a four-goal lead before half time after some tight first minutes

HC Vardar (MKD) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) 27:23 (14:10)
The fight was close from the very beginning as HC Vardar hosted HBC Nantes. Both teams took turns finding the net until Vardar scored three goals in a row to gain a two-goal lead for the first time, 5:3. If the Macedonian supporters thought that the champions would follow that with a bang, the French visitors had another thing in mind.

Nantes gained the lead 7:6, but it was Vardar that had the last saying in the first half. During the last seven minutes, the Macedonian side went on a 6:2 run. Rogerio Ferreira‘s five goals in the first half alone helped Vardar to build up a four-goal lead before the half-time whistle.

Nantes fight hard
Vardar kept their comfortable lead after the break and stood firm against Nantes’ assault. The French side scored four goals in a row to cut Vardar’s lead down to one goal, 19:18, but that was the closest they could come.

The Macedonian champions turned up the heat again and there was nothing that Kiril Lazarov, who was not able to score in his first appearance back in Macedonia with Nantes, or any other player from the French side could do about it.

Although the lead was cut down to one once again, Nantes failed to find the back of the net for the last seven minutes. Vardar won by four goals in the end, 27:23, and is the only team in Group A with two wins after the first two rounds.

Best opponents yet
Vardar coach Raul Gonzales said Nantes were their "best opponents" of the season so far.

"They play very good handball, very fast indeed," he said. "The second half Nantes improved their game, they caused some problems for us with a few fast break goals. I’m satisfied because I know how great a team Nantes is, they beat Montpellier and PSG with very good performances. We have to enjoy this result because it was a hard-won victory."

Nantes goalkeeper Cyril Dumoulin said: "We have four days ahead us to prepare for our following game against Rhein-Neckar Löwen and we just have to keep working harder, because we believe that we can do something in this competition.”


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