Vardar finish fourth in a tough match, Montpellier are the new champions of Europe


Even though third place matches are often not the favourite ones for a lot of players, this one was taken seriously by both sides from the start. It was a special match for Vardar, as many of their players will be leaving the club in the upcoming season. In his last European match for, Raul Gonzalez decided to leave out a couple of players like Sterbik and Abutovic.

Vardar started better than PSG, Strahinja Milic was looking good in goal in the opening 12 minutes, stopping shots from the ikes of Karabatic and Gensheimer. Luka Cindric propelled Vardar to an opening 5-2 lead. Noka Serdarusic was not happy with his team, and was forced to call a time-out early on. Corrales then went on a series of saves, which allowed the team from the French capital to close the gap to -1. The tempo then started to rise, and both team scored some quick goals; Vardar through Maqueda and PSG through Remili. With 10 minutes left in the first interval Vardar was up 10:9, and Gonzalez decided to call for a break after N. Karabatic scored his second. The lead was going both ways, until the end of first half, as both teams could not find the separation. Moraes and Kristopans looked too strong for PSG's defense, which helped Vardar earn many 7m shots. After 30 minutes, the last year's winners were up 15:14.

Vardar looked better at the start of the second half, scoring four times in as many minutes. Luka Cindric was pulling all the strings in offense. PSG were quick to equalise the score when Remili scored  an empty net goal for 20:20 in the 39th minute. Things started to heat up in the 43rd minute, when Jorge Maqueda was sent off for a foul on Luka Karabatic that gave him his third 2 minute suspension. It did not particularly disrupt Vardar's flow, as they were still the team that was in the lead. With 10 minutes left, Serdarusic put players like Abalo and Narcisse in the game, hoping to erase the deficit his team was still facing. Minutes later, Narcisse scored and Corrales saved Cupic's 7m shot attempt which gave Remili an opportunity to give PSG the lead. The French team took the 24:23 lead in the 53rd minute. There was still a lot of fight left in Vardar's team and Kristopans levelled the score in the 57th minute. However, a costly mistake by Canellas opened the door for Gensheimer to get out in transition and it was 28:26 with just over 2 minutes on the clock. Yet another poor pass ended almost all hopes for Vardar fans, but some still believed when Milic stopped Remili. Kristopans scored for 28:27, so PSG called a time out and there was only 18 seconds left. The final score was set by the amazing Remili and Kristopans who scored again in the last second.

In the end, Remili was unstoppable with 9 goals, Kounkound and Sagosen had 5 each. For Vardar, it was once again the Croatian duo Cindric-Cupic combining for 12 goals. Jorge Maqueda scored 6 and Kristopans went 4/4. Strahinja Milic, who replaced Sterbik in goal, recorded 9 saves.

Paris Saint-Germain came third with a 29:28 victory, in a very emotional match. It was the last European outing for Daniel Narcisse, but also the last we have seen from this generation of Vardar. Many players will be leaving in the summer, but there is no doubt Vardar will remain strong in the upcoming season.

The new EHF Champions League winners are Montpellier HBC, who already won the title in 2003. They beat HBC Nantes and did incredibly well the whole season, coming from Group D- defeating Barcelona, Flensburg and Vardar on the way to the final. Nantes also had a brilliant season, proving that the next season might be even better for club handball in Europe.

EHFCL 3rd place match: Paris Saint-Germain- Vardar 29:28 (14:15)
EHFCL Final: match: HBC Nantes - Montpellier-Handball 27:32 (13:16)