Kiel strike back for a lucky draw
1:0 was the only lead held by defending champions THW Kiel, before hosts HBC Nantes were ahead for almost the rest of the whole match - but in the end, strikes from Niklas Ekberg and Patrick Wiencek prevented the holders from suffering another defeat on Thursday night. Funnily enough, both sides did not score any goals in the last 2:18 minutes - despite many chances.
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs. THW Kiel (GER) 24:24 (12:9)
- Kiel remain one point ahead of Nantes (12/11), but have two matches more to play compared to the French side.
- It was the second ever duel between these clubs - and Nantes are still unbeaten against Kiel after the sensational 35:27 away victory in the first leg.
- HBC’s Danish goalkeeper Emil Nielsen was the hero of the first half with a save percentage of 50 and nine blocked shots. But after the break he did not save any more shots and was replaced by Cyril Dumoulin.
- Nantes were constantly ahead, but the half-time score of 12:9 was their first three-goal advantage.
- After the break, Niklas Landin replaced Dario Quenstedt in the THW Kiel goal, and it took him only eleven minutes to have the same three saves as Quenstedt did before the break - and then saved two crucial shots in the last minute.
- Nantes lost their rhythm after the red card for Alexandre Cavalcanti after his third suspension with the score 22:19 in minute 53.
Nantes continue strong series
After their low-point of the season, the 28:30 against Celje at home on 4 February, HBC Nantes definitely cheated the gallows. They won three of their next four matches, now tied with Kiel and even were close to having a clean record, but unluckily lost 29:30 at Barcelona. Next week, they travel to Veszprem - and can possibly gain even more confidence for the knock-out stage.
It’s tough to play every two days. I really appreciate this draw, my players never give up. I say "chapeau" to them.