EHFCL semi-finals recap: The fairy tale is over for Vardar, Nantes and Montpellier shock the handball world!

Vardar - Montpellier

The semi-final match did not start too well for Vardar, as Porte scored two early goals for Montpellier, and it was 3:1 for the French team after 8 minutes. It took Vardar more than 10 minutes to score their first goal from open play, when Dibirov scored to make the score 4:3 in favour of Montpellier. But after 14 minutes Vardar took the first lead. Sterbik's save triggered a fast break, and Moraes took advantage to make the score 7:6. Valentin Porte was making serious problems for Vardar's defense; the left-handed Frenchman scored 5 out of Montpellier's first 9 goals. It looked like the match would not be over until the very last minute, because Vardar's left-handed solution was Ivan Cupic who had 4 out of Vardar's opening 8 goals. Strahinja Milic entered the game in the 24th minute for Vardar, but not even he could stop Richardson from scoring, and he put Montpellier up by 2 again. Soon after, two Montpellier players were suspended for 2 minutes in a span of 10 seconds which gave Vardar a chance to tie it up, but Marsenic was unlucky not to score. It looked like Vardar had the last possession in the first half, but Canellas saw his shot get blocked. There was just enough time for Valentin Porte to score his sixth with an incredible goal from 10 meters, and give his team a 3-goal lead going into the first half.

Vardar opened the second half better, Borozan unleashed an absolute bomb from 9 meters, seconds after Dibirov assisted Cindric for a quick fast break goal and Borozan scored one more. Vardar had 4 goals after 3 minutes and they were back in the game. Strahinja Milic recorded his first save in the 9th minute of the second half, but the veteran Guigou quickly made sure not repeat Richardson's mistake and put Montpellier up by 3 again. One more time it was Milic in the 44th minute denying the French team from scoring in the fast break, and finally it was Maqueda who scored for 19:20 after the match was scoreless for over 5 minutes. Another good save from Milic gave Vardar an opportunity to equalise, but Gerard brilliantly denied Cindric. The score was 21:23 with less than 7 minutes to go, as Cindric scored once again to bring Vardar within reach. For some time, it was a goal for goal match, with mostly Borozan and Guigou scoring. There were four minutes on the clock, and Montpellier finally decided to slow the pace down and it was 27:25 when Porte received a 2 minute suspension. The equaliser finally came with less than 2 minutes left, with the captain Stoilov scoring from the 6m line. We entered the last minute with 27:27, and Montpellier had 2 shots on goal. On the second attempt, Simonet scored for 27:28 and Vardar had the ball with 18 seconds remaining. Vardar were able to get a shot off, but Borozan was unable to hit the target and Montpellier took the win in an amazing match.

In the end, it was Valentin Porte with 8 goals, Guigou scored 7 and Richardson added 6 more to ensure an all-French final. Hardly anyone could have predicted the Nantes – Montpellier final before the match. Vardar were led by Cindric and Borozan who both scored 6 goals. Cupic had 5 and Maqueda netted 4 times.

Vardar will play PSG in the third place match, tomorrow at 15:15 CET, and the final is scheduled for 18:00; it is Nantes versus Montpellier Handball.

EHFCL semi-finals
HBC Nantes- Paris Saint- Germain 32:28 (17:14)
Vardar- Montpellier Handball 27:28 (11:14)

Sunday May 27th
EHFCL 3rd place match: Paris Saint - Germain - Vardar (15:15 CET)
EHFCL Final match: HBC Nantes- Montpellier Handball (18:00 CET)