Last-gasp Neagu goal gifts CSM draw against Brest
Despite losing one point after a last-gasp Cristina Neagu goal in the last second of the match, Brest Bretagne Handball secured a play-offs berth. The hard-fought 30:30 draw against CSM Bucuresti was one of the most exciting games of the season.
- the French side cannot fall lower than sixth place in the final standings, as they hold the tie-breaker against SG BBM Bietigheim
- CSM used an 8:3 run in the middle of the second half to mount a comeback, after Brest dominated between the 20th and the 43rd minutes, as the Romanian side's defense had no answer for their opponents
- left back Cristina Neagu is back in the lead of the top goalscorer standings, with her nine-goal performance taking her overall season tally to 99 goals, five goals more than Esbjerg's Henny Reistad, who is second in the standings
- the Romanian side has now lost only once – a one-goal loss against Team Esbjerg in the quarter-finals last season – in their last 12 games in Bucharest, confirming their status as one of the top sides in the competition
- CSM still hold the lead in the group, but their lead has been cut to only one point ahead of the reigning champions, Vipers Kristiansand
- Vipers meet Brest and CSM face Krim in the last round of the group; If they finish level on points Vipers holds the tie-breaker over CSM
Madness in Bucharest sees spoils shared
Last season, CSM Bucuresti lost a record four games by a single goal, including three in the final seconds. This time around, the Romanian side turned around the bad luck and after conceding a 29:30 loss against Brest in October 2021, they managed to sneak out a draw, their second of the season, against the French side, with a last-gasp shot from Cristina Neagu that went into the goal with only one second left on the clock.
Neagu, who scored nine goals in the game, missed a penalty with 59 seconds to go, missing the target. However, she paid her debt in full with her 99th goal of the season. CSM had some teething problems in the attack and in defence, but got key contributions from Neagu, Emilie Arntzen and goalkeeper Evelina Eriksson to save a point.
Brest will feel disappointed after missing out on a key win, but they will still make it to the play-offs as in the eventuality of three teams - Brest, Krim Mercator Ljubljana and SG BBM Bietigheim - all finishing with equal points, Brest have the head-to-head advantage over Bietigheim. They cannot get higher than fourth place and cannot fall lower than sixth, but they will try to finish as best as possible in a very, very balanced group.
In the first half we could not find our identity. For Brest we have a lot of respect as they are capable of very good results and have very good, strong international players. If you allow them to start to be comfortable in playing then they make us suffer like they did today. In the first half we could not find at all ourselves. In the second half we tried to go back to basics and understand that every ball counts.
It was a great game and atmosphere. This is why we play handball! It was a very hard game and I believe CSM is favourite to win the Champions League. It was a good game for us and I think Cristina Neagu showed once more that she is the best player in the world.