|29.04.2010, 09:40||◄ last page|
Chekhovskie Medvedi's five goal win at home take them closer to the EHF FINAL4.
Bears brush aside Montpellier
With a well organised defence throughout the match, and a quick game plan, the home team of Chekhovskie Medvedi took a big step forward in their attempt to qualify for EHF FINAL4.
They beat their French opponent, Montpellier HB, including superstar Nikola Karabatic, by five goals. This gives them very good cards for reaching the final stage of the EHF Champions League in Cologne, Germany.
Montpellier had to cope without world-class players Vid Kavticnik and Michaël Guigou due to injury, whilst the Russian Bears were able to start the match with their strongest line-up.
A clash of strong defences was awaited in the quarterfinal, and both sides chose to start with an offensive 5-1 formation. The team of Vladimir Maximov additionally employed man-to-man marking on Montpellier’s most potent weapon, Nikola Karabatic.
Despite the two defeats in the Main Phase of this year’s EHF Champions League, the Russians showed great confidence in defence. Coach Maximov seemed to have found perfect tactics against Patrice Canayer’s players.
It was a fast-paced game from both sides, with the Russians making fewer mistakes in executing their chances. Timur Dibirov and his teammates quickly built a small lead, thanks to 30-year-old line player Mikhail Chipurin, who was ‘on fire’ during the whole match.
Spectacular goals after quick counter-attacks brought great joy to the faces of the many spectators in the Chekhov Arena. The goalkeepers of the French could not live up to their best performance, and the Montpellier defence didn’t stand together well, allowing Medvedi’s wingers to score easily.
To the surprise of coach Canayer, the Bears managed to score 18 goals in the first half, an unusually high amount compared to Motpelliers performances in this year’s CL.
The home team put the French side under pressure in the second half too, and the Montpellier backs often missed from the 9 meter line and in clear-cut situations.The Bears then moved into top gear and increased their half-time lead of five goals to seven. Without the injured Karabatic in the last 15 minutes, Montpellier tried to close the gap with a new attacking formation, replacing their captain. But they couldn’t get closer than five goals.
With Mladen Bojinovic’s exceptional goal, a free throw after the final whistle, the score table showed a 32-27 final result.
Patrice Canayer, coach of Montpellier: "I want to congratulate my colleague Vladimir Maximov on a deserved victory and a good game. In some parts of the second half we missed the injured Nikola Karabatic and goalkeeper Daouda Karaboué. I hope nothing serious has happened to them and they’ll be ready for the return leg. We’ve played only the first half of the quarterfinals and now we’ll try to win at home and qualify for the EHF FINAL4, although this will not be an easy task".
Vladimir Maximov, coach of Chekhovskie Medvedi: "Having a very negative streak against Montpellier with only a single victory in eight games, my players today were sent to the court to play seriously and as unit. Our game plan worked well and bore fruit. The difference in the score-line could have been even greater in my opinion, but the French side went in the second half with a 6-0 defensive formation and we encountered some difficulties with that. We’re not through yet, and we’ll for sure prepare thoroughly for the return leg."
The return match takes place at 19.00 GMT in Montpellier on Saturday, and you can follow our free-of-charge live web-stream on ehfTV.com.
TEXT: Márk Hegedüs