Second half comeback earns Celje a point
Prior to the game, fourth-placed HBC Nantes had two points more than RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko, and that margin remained intact as the rivals split the points in Slovenia, 29:29.
- Celje had their first draw of the current season
- Nantes did not score after 47 minutes
- Branko Vujovic netted six times for Celje; Florian Delecroix scored as many goals for Nantes
RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) 29:29 (15:19)
In the reverse fixture in Nantes, the French side had claimed their biggest victory to date in the current European season, 38:27.
But, as the home team, Celje showed more resistance and made a strong second-half comeback to ultimately grab a point.
The visitors enjoyed a better start and were 3:1 up, and although Celje took a 6:5 lead in the tenth minute, Nantes quickly seized control again.
Nantes’ defence worked well, while Florian Delecroix and Kiril Lazarov set the tone in attack, which led to the French side’s four-goal advantage at half-time (19:15).
Ten minutes into the second half, the match looked decided as Nantes led 26:19, but Celje did not give up. Their defence improved and Klemen Ferlin made several great saves in goal, which enabled Celje to reduce the deficit. Celje finally drew level at 29:29 as Tilen Kodrin scored 48 seconds from full-time.
Nantes, who were unable to score after the forty-seventh minute, had a free throw after the final buzzer from their final attack, but Kiril Lazarov missed a chance to snatch a win as his shot hit the post.
Thierry Anti, the Nantes coach, could not pinpoint why his team did not win, “Strange feeling after this match. I’m very disappointed, we had two points at the end we had to save one. We played great 45 minutes, but then Celje made us to do mistakes in front of this atmosphere. You cannot win points if you do not perform on 100% all 60 minutes.”
Whereas Tomaž Ocvirk of Celje praised how his side rallied at half-time and thanked the home fans, “We made too many mistakes after first 15 minutes and against such a great team like Nantes is, it is hard to play. But at half-time we all agreed that we are going to do everything possible no matter the result. And when you trail seven goals fifteen minutes before the end and then you get a point, I think that we proved that those were not just words. Thanks to the incredible fans in Zlatorog who carried us there.”Author: Sergey Nikolaev / jw