The sports hall in Metz isn’t the easiest to conquer – last season, both finalists Vardar and Győri Audi ETO KC were defeated in Les Arénes. The only team to take both points from France was FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, and this time it was the Hungarian silver medalists again to make a visit in the hall. The match started tense and nervous for both teams as both were struggling to score in the beginning of the match (1-2 after 10 minutes). It was FTC to calm down earlier that meant a 3-goal lead for the Hungarians (3-6) but Metz was back on equal in no time. The Slovenian sharpshooter Ana Gros who just announced her departure to Brest during the summer, found her top form again and this helped Metz to take the lead for the first time in the match (11-10). On the other side, FTC’s attacks were led by young Noémi Háfra. Two more goals were added to the account from the French side while FTC wasn’t able to score in the final 6 minutes of the half, mostly thanks to some great saves from Marina Rajcic (13-10).
In the beginning of the second half, FTC came back to one goal (14-13) but Metz reacted in time to stop the momentum of the Hungarians. With 10 minutes gone from the second half, FTC wasn’t closer to the French champions, just the opposite: for the first time in the match, the French lead grew to four goals (19-15). Metz managed to keep this lead for a while, but entering the last 10 minutes of the match, FTC made a last attempt to save at least one point. The exact score wasn’t completely clear as the screens and the TV were showing one more goal for Metz than it really seemed. With some great saves from Blanka Bíró and a more effective defense from the Hungarians, FTC decreased the gap, but before it got too dangerous for the home team, Metz had responses in the best possible moments for them. In the final minute, a spectacular goal from Xenia Smits made all the question marks fade away – last season, FTC took both points from Metz, but this time it was different. This time, the French champions kept both points at home and are currently second in the group, while FTC is running close behind on the third place.
EHF Champions League – Main Round Group II
Metz Handball – FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria 27-25 (13-10)
Metz Handball: A. Gros 10(4), X. Smits 4, M. Houette 3(1), G. Zaadi 3, L. Landre 2, L. Flippes 1, M. Nocandy 1, O. Kanor 1, M. Maubon 1, J. Luciano 1
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria: V. Lukács 7, N. Háfra 4, N. Schatzl 3, L. van der Heijden 3(1), D. Snelder 3, D. Hornyák 2, A. Kovacsics 1, D. Faluvégi 1, Z. Szucsánszki 1
Penalties: 5/5 ; 1/1
Suspensions: 6 minutes ; 6 minutes