Third match in a raw against Montpellier within the Champions' League ends with a triumph for Vardar. This time we came back from France with a victory of 33:31 and started defending the title the same way as last year. Last year we also started in France and won. This time we had a different roster and scored more goals. Vardar showed that they could play 60 minutes, regardless of the result. They wait for every chance, every ball and fight for every centimetre of the court.
We knew it would be a tough match, and we enabled our fans to enjoy the fight and the great game of both teams. In the last 5 years, Vardar was more successful than Montpellier. Out of 7 matches, Vardar won 5, one match ended without a winner and they lost one match on the 2017/18 F4 tournament in Cologne.
Vardar is by far the best Macedonian handball men's team. The triumph in France was their 70th in the Champions' League group phase. The red-black team holds the 14th place on the eternal list with 142 matches and efficiency of 54%.
The host reached a lead at the beginning and kept it until the middle of the 1st half when Vardar used the few mistakes of Montpellier and reached a lead of 12:10. We patiently waited for a chance and "worked out" the actions. However, this was a match where every moment of relaxation was punished. Every mistake meant a goal. So, with a series of 4:0, Montpellier reached a lead of 14:12. Such game was kept until halftime, although we had a chance to draw. It was important for us not to allow the rival to make a bigger goal-difference. We showed we could play and lead. We only needed continuity.
However, in the 2nd half, the host reached a lead of 3 goals (20:27). Vardar never gives up, plays its game and waits for its chance. They slowly reduced the goal-difference and reached a lead of 25:23 in the 43rd minute. Uncertain match was guaranteed for another 15 minutes. Again, we had a bad period, without scoring and the opponent made a series. Similar situation as in the 1st half. Vardar again made a turnover and reached a lead of 30:29.
The end was near and Vardar had an advantage. Shishkarev "stole" one ball and forced suspension. Then, Skube scored for 31:29. The outcome was obvious, only the final result was not known. We deserved to win.
David Pisonero – Vardar's coach
"We played a really hard match. In the 1st part, our game in defence was not as we wanted, but in attack was good because we scored 16 goals. We improved in the 2nd part and managed to win. We scored several easy goals through fast breaks and we are satisfied with the result. It is not easy to win here. I am satisfied with the victory."
Christian Dissinger – Vardar's player
"Both teams made many mistakes in the 1st half. We did not play well in defence and allowed the opponent to reach a lead. We conceded easy goals, but we could score such goals. However, we played better in the 2nd part. I am happy that we won here. Everyone knows how difficult it is to win here."
Montpellier – Vardar 31-33 (17-16)
Montpellier: Shego, Portner, Guiraudou, Simonet 5, Villeminot 3, Descvat 5, Grebille 1, Tskhovrebadze, Bos, Pettersson 3, Richardson 2, Porte 7, Lenne 3, Afgour, Brito Duarte 2.
VARDAR: Ghedbane, Kugis, Kukulovski, Dimitrioski, Kristopans 2, Karapalevski, Sikoshek Pelko, Dissinger, Atman 4, Skube 7, Kalarash 4, Chupic 4, Dibirov 6, Gorbok, Shishkarev 5, Goprishin 1.