Paris (AFP)

The handball players from Metz had to tear themselves away to win against the Danes of Esbjerg (31-29) early Saturday evening at home, and clinch their third victory of the season in the Champions League, after five matches played.

On Saturday, Emmanuel Mayonnade's players almost lost their invincibility at home in their arenas, where they have not lost in C1 since January 28, 2017.

After a good first period under control (18-14), the Messines completely lost the thread of their match, conceding in the space of ten minutes a severe 10-2, allowing the Danes to take the lead again ( 24-20, 42nd).

The reigning quadruple champions of France have very poorly managed the periods of numerical superiority, but could count on an excellent Hatadou Sako in the goals (10 saves), perfect at the start of the match and in the middle of the second period, when the defense Metz managed to gradually regain the upper hand over the Danish attack.

Sako played the sixty minutes of the match, while the second Metz goalkeeper Ivana Kapitanovic will be absent for several months, victim of a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the left knee this week in the French championship.

"Stay in what we know how to do, we have time, there are thirteen minutes left," said coach Messin during his third time-out, while his team stammered his attacking game for a quarter of hour in second period.

In the last minutes of the meeting, it was on a goal from the Croatian Camila Micijevic that the Dragonnes returned to the lead (28-27, 53rd).

Impeccable at the pivot position (six out of six), the Ukrainian Olga Perederiy scored the last goal in Metz to ensure victory (31-29).

With this success, Metz ranks third in its group and has six points thanks to its home victories against the Germans of Bietigheim, the Slovenes of Ljubljana and the Danes of Esbjerg, against two defeats on the road in Bucharest and Rostov (Russia). .

The Moselle will try to bring back a result from Kristiansand in two weeks, the Norwegians sharing the first place of the group with Rostov (7 points, three wins and a draw).

To play the rest of the competition, Metz must take one of the first six places at the end of the 14 meetings of the group stage.

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

© 2020 AFP