Magic Cupara helps Kielce take advantage over Paris
Perhaps Paris Saint-Germain appeared to be favourites before the first leg of their quarter-final against Vive Kielce, after defeating their rivals at the corresponding stage last season, but tonight at home, Kielce definitely looked like a contender to the win the VELUX EHF Champions League. Thanks to a massive defence and an impressive Vladimir Cupara between the posts, and despite Michal Jurecki’s absence, the Polish side are now ten goals ahead on aggregate.
That doesn’t mean they are in Cologne just yet, though, as they will have to travel to Paris next Sunday in order to confirm it and book their first VELUX EHF FINAL4 ticket since 2016. For PSG, only one team has turned a double-figure deficit around from a quarter-final first leg and reached Cologne: Füchse Berlin against Ademar Leon in 2012 (23:34, 29:18).
- This is Kielce’s first win against Paris Saint-Germain since the 2016 VELUX EHF FINAL4
- Paris-Saint Germain suffered their biggest ever defeat in the EHF Champions League
- Best scorer of the game was Paris’ Uwe Gensheimer with 11 goals, while Artsem Karalek and Uladzislau Kulesh scored six each for Kielce
- Player of the Match awarded by Uniqa was Vladimir Cupara, who stopped eighteen shots and even scored one goal
QUARTER-FINAL, FIRST LEG
MOTW: PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) 34:24 (16:11)
Paris Saint-Germain made the better start, quickly taking a two-goal advantage, but it was not the whole picture of the first half. The hosts’ defence was perfectly in place, with Vladimir Cupara making some important saves. On the other side of the court, Uladzislau Kulesh and Artsem Karalek were finding solutions to score, meaning that Kielce were two goals ahead fifteen minutes after throw-off.
But this advantage increased again thanks to their defence. PSG only scored three more goals before half-time, including two penalties by Uwe Gensheimer. The German left wing scored five, and Hansen four times, and they were the only two PSG players who were able to consistently find the back of the net. Kielce were not experiencing as many difficulties, scoring sixteen times in the first 30 minutes to go back to the dressing room ahead by five (16:11).
Right wing, left wing… there is just no way to get past Vladimir #Cupara 🤩
His great saves helped @kielcehandball build a 5-goal lead over @psghand at half-time in #MOTW.#veluxehfcl #ehffinal4 #hellocologne pic.twitter.com/8qLmijhNSu
— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) 27 April 2019
PSG’s difficulties increased even more after half-time. Despite Nedim Remili adding his offensive power to the visitors’ arsenal, Kielce kept the upper hand, with Luka Cindric proving why he is so important to the Polish side. If Paris were back within three after 38 minutes, they were down by seven ten minutes later – after conceding another 3:0 series. Kielce’s advantage even went up to nine, when Alex Dujshebaev scored his third goal from long range.
In a boiling atmosphere, Kielce kept their heads to remain out of reach on the scoring board. Julen Aguinagalde’s experience proved useful in the dying minutes of the game. The Spanish line player scored two in a row to keep his team well ahead before Cupara, the hero of the evening, scored in the empty net to finally put Kielce ten goals ahead (34:24).
TEXT: Kevin Domas / jw