Montpellier end winless run to advance with ease
For the first time since 2018, Montpellier HB have qualified for the EHF Champions League Men quarter-finals. After drawing 29:29 against FC Porto in the first leg in Portugal, Montpellier booked their quarter-final ticket with a strong first half performance on home ground that gave them a 19:11 lead at half-time.
The 35:27 win on Wednesday night ended a six-game winless run in the EHF Champions League for Montpellier, who had not won since beating Zagreb 24:23 on 1 December.
In May, the record French champions will face Lomza Vive Kielce in a duel between two former EHF Champions League winners.
PLAY-OFF, SECOND LEG
Montpellier HB (FRA) vs FC Porto (POR) 35:27 (19:11)
First leg: 29:29. Montpellier HB won 64:56 on aggregate
- while Montpellier qualified for their ninth quarter-final in Champions League history and defeated Porto for the first time in four duels, Porto's journey ended in the play-offs, like last season
- six goals from Hugo Descat and a save percentage of close to 50 per cent for goalkeeper Kevin Bonnefoi, which included a crucial penalty stop at 7:5, paved the way for Montpellier's decisive 19:11 half-time lead
- Porto, who had huge problems in defence and attack, scored from only 41 per cent of their shots in the first half, while Montpellier were on 86 per cent at the break
- having the huge lead in mind, Montpellier decelerated in the second half – except for strong young guns Kyllian Villeminot and Yanis Lenne – but were never in any danger as Porto gave up the chase quite early
- the best scorers in a one-sided duel were Montpellier duo Hugo Descat (seven goals) and Kyllian Villeminot (six goals), plus Daymaro Salina (six goals) for Porto
- Hugo Descat has now scored 65 times in the EHF Champions League Men this season
Montpellier end four-year wait to reach quarter-finals
Since their sensational triumph at the EHF FINAL 4 in Cologne in 2018, when they beat domestic rivals HBC Nantes in the final, Montpellier had not reached the EHF Champions League quarter-finals.
In the 2018/19 season, they were the first winners in the history of the competition that failed to proceed from the group phase to the knockout stage. Their 2019/20 season came to a halt due to Covid-19, while in 2020/21 Montpellier played in the EHF European League and were eliminated by Füchse Berlin in the quarter-finals.
Against Kielce, Hugo Descat and his teammates will have the chance to clinch their second trip to Cologne.
We’re very satisfied to win and to qualify for the quarter-finals. We had a lot of respect for Porto before the match and nothing has changed afterwards. We produced play of great quality tonight, with a lot of rhythm and intensity in defence. We had a good group phase and we needed to validate that in the knockout stage, which is the real Champions League.
I’m very disappointed in how we played. In fact, I’m a bit confused right now. We started quite well but had problems in defence, yet despite that we had chances to go in front. After 10 minutes we showed some frustration and lost our way, our game became blurred and we took bad decisions – giving Montpellier the chance to score four or five goals on the counter attack.