Montpellier with a big advantage while Irun take a small option
After finishing first in their group, Montpellier took a big step towards the quarter-finals by winning clearly in Ferencvaros. Even though they trailed by one at half-time, the French side managed to turn things around, strengthening its defence to eventually win by six.
Everything remains to be decided between Irun and Sporting. The Spanish side might have thought that they would have a had a bigger advantage after the first leg, but a three-goal lead is still a good accounting for Bidasoa ahead of the return leg.
LAST 16, FIRST LEG
FTC (HUN) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) 30:36 (17:16)
FTC were able to keep up Montpellier’s rhythm for 30 minutes, but couldn't stay with the French side in the second half. The Hungarian side did start off well, though, as they took an early three-goal lead. But, thanks to recent recruit Jaime Fernandez, who netted five goals in the first half alone, the visitors were back within one at the break. Kyllian Villeminot scored four in 10 minutes to put Montpellier six goals ahead at the 50th minute, helping his team take a clear advantage before the return game.
Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs Sporting CP (POR) 30:27 (11:12)
A 20-minute break in the first half, due to a poor court condition, did not prevent both teams from delivering an excellent game. And, while the first half was clearly an even one, Irun made things go their way after the break. While Mehdi Harbaoui pulled out a couple of important saves, fastbreaks by Jon Azkue Saizar helped the hosts take an advantage as big as five goals. But, thanks to the Costa brothers, who scored a combined 15 goals, Sporting are still in the run for qualification.
Mehdi Harbaoui keeps Irun’s hopes alive
The French goalkeeper may not have had the best game of his career tonight, but his six saves were crucial for Irun. Entering the court at half-time, he made three in a row to help the Spanish side break away and take a four-goal advantage. While they were unable to retain it, the hosts could count on their goalkeeper, as he stopped a seven-metre penalty from Tavares in the last five minutes to keep his team’s hopes alive.