Vipers Kristiansand – Metz Handball 38:38 (17:21) – DELO Champions League – Round 3
13 goals of Grace Zaadi were not enough to push Metz over the finish line as the winner, in a very entertaining Match of the Week in the DELO EHF Champions League, in Kristiansand.
Before the Match
Metz made the trip to Kristiansand without goalkeeper Laura Glauser – the national goalkeeper of France suffered a severe knee injury last weekend, in Budapest – and German international, Xenia Smits.
The host was missing almost an entire team, including veteran keeper, Katrine Lunde, Karoline Olsen (left wing), Hanna Yttereng (line player), Henny Reistad (left back) and Josefine Intelhus (right back).
38:38 – both coaches had a tough time coming to terms with the tie after 60 minutes of a dramatic handball match. “Manu” Mayonnade (coach Metz HB) was quoted by saying that, “when you’re eight goals ahead you expect to win the game, and that’s what makes this draw extra frustrating and disappointing.”
Indeed – ten minutes into the second half, Orlane Kanor had just scored one of her five goals, the French champion was leading 30:23 and it felt like a rout was in the making. With twenty more minutes to play, the result of Metz’ first round match came to mind, when they lit “Les Arenes” trashing Podravka 40:26. But, this game was about to turn.
Vipers got off to the better start and less than two minutes into the game, the Norwegians were leading 3:0. Heidi Loke and Marta Tomac were on fire and forced coach Mayonnade to interrupt Kristiansand’s scoring spree from the sidelines, as he took his first timeout (8th minute).
After the short break his team caught up and a 2-minute suspension of Olga Perederiy allowed Vipers to reverse course only briefly, before a red-hot Grace Zaadi took over and almost single handedly arranged a four-goal Metz lead, by the time the two teams changed sides.
Metz continued were they left off and by minute 37 the French record champion were ahead by eight, courtesy of Olga Perederiy’s fifth goal. It felt comfortable and Metz seemed to be well on their way to win game number three in the 2019/20 DELO EHF Champions League season.
Yet, Viper’s head coach, Ole Gjeskstad, reacted, took the necessary time out and from then on his team began to claw back, slowly but surely. In the next seven minutes Viper’s outscored Metz 7:2 and a bit more than halfway through the second half, Arntzen & Co. had pulled within one (30:31, 48th minute) and were back in the game.
The most dramatic phase was about to unfold and although Metz stayed in the lead by one or two goals, Vipers never gave up and 22 seconds before time, Emilie Hegh Arntzen scored the last goal of the match, adding to the excitement of the 1.717 in attendance. A last ditch effort from Kanor did not change the result anymore.
Somewhere in between the 38th and 48th minute it felt like Ivana Kapitanovic (Metz) goalkeeper, was ready for a break – just to give Vipers a different look in goal. Unfortunately, “Manu” Mayonnade did not have this option available, as the Croatian goalkeeper was his only choice on this afternoon in Kristiansand.
On the other side, Vipers deserve much credit for not rolling over – it got awfully close. Instead they fought back and the way Emilie Hegh Arntzen and Silje Waade led the team during this critical phase in the second half was nothing but impressive. Add to it the four goals of 21-year old Ragnhild Valle Dahl during crunch time and the draw has some merit to it.
stregspiller – Player of the Match
Grace Zaadi – period. Thirteen goals already speak for themselves but the way she kept her composure at a critical juncture in the game, at a time when her teammates in the backcourt went “cold”, only highlight her outstanding performance and importance for her team. Right now, she may well be the most complete center back in all of women’s handball.
E. Hegh Arntzen (8), R. Valle Dahl (7), M. Tomac (6), H. Loke (6), S. Waade (5), M. Aune (3), L. Jorum Sulland (1), T. Refsnes (1), S. Andersen Naes (1)
G. Zaadi (13), O. Kanor (5), O. Perederiy (5), H. Sajka (4), A. N’Gouan (4), L. Burgaard (2), L. Flippes (2), M. Maubon (1), M. Nocandy (1), M. Houette (1)
The DELO EHF Champions League will take a two week break before Vipers and Metz meet again, this time at “Les Arenes”. A new opportunity for Metz to pay back or Vipers to assume the lead in Group A?
The matches between these two handball powerhouses already shape up as a “Classic” – in any event, it will be “Must-See” handball on Sunday, November 3 at 20:45 hours, in Metz.
/ J. Schutz