Paris (AFP)

The handball players from Metz recorded their second defeat in the Champions League, logically losing in Rostov-on-Don (30-26), powerless in attack against the solid Russian defense and goalkeeper Viktoriia Alinina.

Emmanuel Mayonnade's team is being rebuilt this season after the departure of several key players from its squad in the summer of 2020.

After a first big inconclusive shock against Bucharest in early September (31-26), the Dragonnes passed their second big test on Saturday against Rostov, a team made up of the best players of the Russian selection - Anna Vyakhireva, Anna Sen, Viktoriia Alinina, Iullia Managarova, Ksenia Makeeva- and reinforced by the arrival in the summer of center-half Grace Zaadi, from ... Metz.

The Messines dominated the first quarter of an hour of play, but experienced a big air gap: while they were in command (10-9, 16th), they began to come up against the Russian defense well in square.

Almost ten minutes passed between the 10th and 11th goal in Metz, and in the meantime, Rostov took off (13-10, 24th).

It was on three consecutive goals from Zaadi that the Russians took the lead in the game, escaped and did not let Metz pick up.

Barely in the last five minutes, when the meeting was already folded.

In the end, Metz only gave up four goals (30-26) against one of the best collectives in Europe, with the Hungarians from Györ and the Romanians from Bucharest.

Zaadi, Vyakhireva and Sen finished with five goals each on the Russian side, while Méline Nocandy finished the game as top scorer, with her six goals for only one failure on the side of Metz.

To play the rest of the competition, Metz must take one of the first six places (out of eight) in its group at the end of the 14 matches in the group stage.

The first two teams qualify for the quarterfinals, the other four must go through a barrage of access to the quarterfinals.

The Mosellanes will host the Danes of Esbjerg next week (Saturday, 6 p.m.) in their arenas, to relaunch the fight for these two precious sesames directly qualifying for the quarter-finals.

With two wins and two losses, Metz has 4 points.

Rostov leads the group (7 pts in four matches), ahead of the Norwegian Kristiansand (6 pts in three matches).

© 2020 AFP