Barça Lassa win again, second team to qualify for VELUX EHF FINAL4
After winning by seven (32:25), away in France, last week, Barça Lassa looked close to booking their trip to Cologne and the VELUX EHF FINAL4 even before this clash in Spain threw-off. However, they had to remain cautious about any Nantes’ comeback and had voiced out their intention to win the second leg as well.
Despite taking a good start and being five goals ahead after 15 minutes (12:7), the Spanish side let their opponents come back, within one (22:21) in the 43rd minute. But a wisely-taken time out allowed Barcelona to finally break away and secure their second win against Nantes, as well as their presence at the handball highlight next month in Germany.
- Barça Lassa return to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with a 10-goal aggregate victory (61:51) after missing the event last season
- Spanish team have not lost a VELUX EHF Champions League home game since December 2015 (33:31 vs Kielce)
- Top scorers today were Barça's Lasse Andersson and Nantes’ Valero Rivera, who both scored five
QUARTER-FINAL, SECOND LEG
Barça Lassa (ESP) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) 29:26 (17:14)
Barça Lassa win 61:51 on aggregate
Despite winning by seven in Nantes last week in the first leg of this two-legged quarter-final tie, Barça Lassa did not take this return leg lightly.
Both teams were neck-to-neck inside the first 10 minutes, but then the hosts then pushed forward, increasing their intensity on defence while scoring on fast-breaks. By the 16th minute, they were ahead by six (13:7) as they kept Nantes’ attack silent.
Nantes did recover eventually though, maintaining the deficit at five goals throughout the first half, but did even better than just clinging to a match they had to clearly win. With two David Balaguer strikes in the closing moment of the half, he took his Nantes side back within three at the break (17:14).
Was it the prospect of having their ticket to Cologne almost booked? Who knows, but the Barcelona players seemed a weaker attacking threat coming back to the court in the second period and Nantes used the opportunity to narrow the gap on the scoreboard to just a couple of strikes with 20 minutes left to play (21:19).
If the game had been a high-scoring one in the first half, both teams were struggling to net after the break, turning balls over and displaying technical weaknesses.
Seeing his team only one goal ahead after a seven-meter goal by Valero Rivera, Barça Lassa coach Xavi Pascual took a time out in the 45th minute.
It proved to be a wise move as he nullified any further comeback as his players went on a 3:0 scoring series to take back their initial four-goal advantage and were never to be seen again.
A final goal from Aleix Gomez sparked the Barça Lassa celebrations as they prepare to return back to Cologne.
"I have waited for this for two years," said Barça Lassa's Lasse Andersson after the match. "We made it because we are a team and play as one."