20211207 Hbcnantes Benfica Borges
EHF European League

Benfica set up XXL comeback to draw in Nantes

EHF / Kevin Domas

Tonight saw Nantes play a European game in their XXL hall in front of more than 9,000 spectators for just the second time. And those who spent their evening watching the game witnessed a proper thriller.

Twice they would have believed that their team would take the points, once in each half. But twice, the visitors managed to come back, before finally securing a point in the last minute.

GROUP B

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs SL Benfica (POR) 33:33 (16:17)

• Nantes made the better start, firing on all cylinders and leading by five after six minutes, but Benfica did not panic and came back swiftly into the game. A change of goalkeeper and a better attack even allowed the visitors to lead by one at the break, thanks to one last goal by Francisco Pereira.
• the arrival of Emil Nielsen on the court coincided with a good period for Nantes who, thanks to Valero Rivera’s fastbreaks, broke away again and led at one point by five.
• but the visitors fortunes upturned in the dying moments of the game, thanks to Gustavo Capdeville’s saves, while Paulo Moreno scored two important goals to make the score even with less than one minute to play.
• thanks to this draw, Benfica remain on top of the group with nine points while Nantes are third, with one point fewer.

Valero Rivera’s performance did not pay off

The 36-year-old left-winger might have scored eleven, but that was not enough for his team to win the game. It was in his wake that Nantes broke away on the scoreboard in the first half, and it was on one of his fastbreaks that the French side enjoyed its biggest advantage in the second half. But Benfica remained calm, keeping him from touching the ball in the last five minutes, and using exactly the right tactics to take a point. Surely a frustrating evening for Valero Rivera.

The atmosphere here in this XXL Arena was incredible! We are the best fans in Europe and it’s a chance for us to play in front of so many suppporters!
Valero Rivera
HBC Nantes

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