PSG Beats Zagreb In First Leg Of Handball Champions League Quarterfinals

Total Croatia News

A spectacular introduction to the match in Zagreb’s impressive arena paved the way for an equally breathtaking contest, in which the difference in class became apparent only in the last quarter of the match.

French giants PSG are close to their first ever EHF Champions League Final Four after a magnificent performance in Zagreb on April 23. 2016. Zagreb held on well for the best part of the David versus Goliath battle, with PSG’s potent firepower in attack making the difference as the home side fizzled out in the closing stages.

“We really have a lot of respect for Zagreb, and we started proving that from the very first minute,” said PSG’s Igor Vori. “We were aggressive, but once again we had a bad period of about 10 minutes, which is not okay for us of course. Zagreb will surely not come to Paris with a white flag – they’ll do everything to surprise us, but we must not allow it.”

Bar another Zagreb miracle in the return leg, PSG looks bound to reach the showpiece event in Cologne. Zagreb, who stunned German powerhouse Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the Last 16, will take heart from the fact that they achieved their previous miracle in the return leg with an away win.

Driven by the unstoppable Mikkel Hansen, PSG held the upper hand throughout the first half of the match, which showcased handball of the highest quality. His lethal long-range shots rained in from all angles, forcing Zagreb coach Veselin Vujović to deploy Filip Ivić in place of Ivan Stevanović midway through the first half after he failed to stop any of PSG’s opening eight shots.

With Ivić making several good saves, Zagreb reduced a tough 5:10 deficit to a more encouraging 10:12, but visiting centre-back Nikola Karabatić and line player Vori kept the visitors firmly in the driving seat at half-time.

Roared on by the passionate fans, who created a memorable atmosphere, Zagreb came out with all guns blazing after the break and hauled themselves back to level terms at 16:16 then 18:18 several minutes later. But Hansen found another gear as Karabatić pulled the strings in attack with quality passes, allowing Vori to rifle in a barrage of goals against his former club from the six-metre line.

PSG nosed ahead 23:20 and Zagreb, running on empty in the last 10 minutes, succumbed as the visitors carved out a massive advantage for the return leg in Paris. “There was too big of a goal difference in the end despite everything – reduced roster, many sidelined players,” said Zagreb’s Lovro Šprem. “We were repeating some mistakes; they were punishing that easily, and it was not easy to keep close against such a team. It was really nice to play here today and of course, we’re not satisfied with this loss, but we have what we have, and we still have to travel to Paris and believe.”

PSG’s streak in the final stretch was also backed by several superb stops from their evergreen goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer. The irrepressible Hansen scored a game-high nine goals from 13 shots, Karabatic added six, while Vori and livewire right wing Luc Abalo chipped in with five each for PSG. Stipe Mandalinić and Stefan Vujić led Zagreb with four goals apiece, as Zlatko Horvat and Antonijo Kovacević netted three each.

The return match will be played next weekend in Paris.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment