Paris (AFP)

For their entry into the Champions League, the Nantes handball players held high to the Hungarians of Veszprem before surrendering in the last twenty minutes and losing 28 to 24, Wednesday evening in their H Arena.

For more than 35 minutes, the players of Alberto Entrerrios offered a very nice show to the nearly 4,000 spectators present in the Beaulieu room, back for an official match after the break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For their return to the queen competition of European handball (after a stint in the EHF Cup, the antechamber of the C1, last season), the Nantes residents were reassured, but lacked a bit of physical freshness during the second period and suffered from Hungarian superiority.

"It's the first game, it's a warning. We still have to raise our level of play. We have to have more confidence in ourselves, we have to do better than that, there is no excuse for the first game ", however railed the Nantes captain Rock Feliho in the middle of the field after the defeat.

"We have ambitions yes or no? Yes, but not by doing that," he added.

For his debut in the Champions League, left-back Thibaud Briet impressed (3 goals), while Kiril Lazarov and Adria Figueras each scored five goals.

Veszprem, carried by his Montenegrin left winger Dejan Manaskov and his Swedish pivot Andreas Nilsson (five goals each), was playing his 7th official match while Nantes was in his first.

The Hungarians were able to count on one of their recruits, the porter Rodrigo Corrales, arrived this summer on the shores of Lake Balaton from Paris SG.

The 2020 European champion with the Spanish selection made 17 saves, registering as a worthy successor to Arpad Sterbik in the goals of Veszprem.

For Nantes, surprise finalist of the C1 in 2018, the group stage of the Champions League promises to be extremely high since it finds itself in a group with Veszprem, Barcelona and the Germans of Kiel, three of the best teams in Europe currently.

They will travel to northern Germany for their second C1 match.

If they want to get out of this first phase, they must take one of the first six places in their group.

The first two go directly to the quarterfinals, the other four qualified go through a barrage of access to the quarterfinals.

© 2020 AFP