Even in top flight handball, some times a winning plan can be so easy. Rhein-Neckar Löwen were evidence with this on Wednesday night, because their way to a successful start in the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 was very simple: overlook middle back Andy Schmid, goal by line player Jannik Kohlbacher. 

Last week ’s finalists HBC Nantes were not able to avoid this duo, however nevertheless they have a opportunity to proceed to the quarter-final, since the hosts let an intermediate five-goal lead slip through their palms .

  • The 34:32 triumph is the first home success for Rhein-Neckar Löwen in a Last 16 match since 2014. They dropped at home another four times

  • 1 1 goals lead Kohlbacher to his highest ever rating in a Champions League match, while Schmid adds eight goals to his colorful assists

  • The top Nantes scorers have been Eduardo Gurbindo and Olivier Nyokas, together with seven goals per day

  • Gurbindo scores the final goal with the Last buzzer

Can Löwen finally end their curse after four straight last-16 eliminations? Coach Nikolaj Jacobsen is not sure whether his side may manage it in the rematch in Nantes: 

“Maybe yes, maybe no. We absolutely should improve at the defence should we want to make this,&rdquo,” said the Dane, who will leave Löwen after this season. “I’ve mixed feelings, because our attack worked perfectly nicely, however we conceded a lot of objectives and caused too many mistakes in crunch time. ” 

In the first half, both sides only dedicated to attack and the defence was almost nonexistent, as shown by the 3-4 goals in the first 30 minutes. Before score of 10:10, Nantes were dominant because of their left back Romain la-garde, who will unite Löwen in 2020. 

But mastermind Andy Schmid took control by goals and even more with aids, mainly for outstanding line player Jannik Kohlbacher, who netted six of his 11 goals before the rest.

As the hosts grew stronger, Nantes could not continue their ultra-fast match drama and found themselves down by two in the rest — thanks also to Löwen goalkeeper Mikael Appelgren saving some important shots.

Before scoreboard showed 26:25, the match was just about equal, as Gurbindo and Nyokas found the openings. But also for 10 minutes, Löwen proved truly unleashed, yanking to 32:26 in second 52 and having the occasion to expand the gap to six aims. 

Nantes never quit and profited from 2 suspensions against Löwen in the final stages, reducing the distance to just two goals as Gurbindo scored an empty-net attack with the final buzzer.

“we’re ready to reach another phase, but we need another high fight a really strong team. Schmid and Kohlbacher were really impressive tonight. ” 

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