Montpellier draw against FC Porto in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16

The suspense remains for the two French clubs in the knockout stages of the Champions League. On Thursday, Montpellier tied the first leg at FC Porto (29-29), like Paris-SG the day before at Elverum (30-30) after a very similar and quite frustrating scenario, symbolized by the penalty missed by Hugo Descat in the last second.

This draw outside, with a formidable opponent, is a good result in itself, before conceding on the journey back to their FDI Stadium (ex-Bougnol) lair on Wednesday 6 April. But he keeps a mixed taste for Héraultais that seemed to have taken over. With a four-goal advantage at the end of the match (24-28, 55th), they could already take a step towards the quarterfinals.

In the last five minutes, however, he squandered the advantage, stringing together turnovers and poor shots as a euphoric Pedro Cruz led Porto with three goals in a row. At the sound of the final siren, the men in the famous blue and white striped jersey jumped out as winners and the inhabitants of Montpellier bowed their heads.

MHB has yet to beat Porto in the European Cup

Everything is still open now. If they have never made it past the round of 16 in twelve Champions League campaigns, the Portuguese team has already shown itself capable of great performances there away from their bases, particularly in… Montpellier two years ago (27-23 victory). In three European clashes, the MHB still haven’t beaten Porto (two draws and one loss).

Patrice Canayer’s men can rely, however, on the great resources deployed during much of the match. Unlike PSG, these round of 16 promised to be particularly balanced, facing a very physical and painful formation to play with their dominance of the 7v6 game (taking out the goalkeeper). Deprived of their top scorer Julien Bos (pectorals), Montpellier faltered at the start of the game, struggling in defense against opposing pivots and nervous in attack (8-4, 14th).

Simonet, back in top form

But they quickly resurfaced, thanks to Diego Simonet, who confirmed his return in top form (5 goals and 6 assists!). Bolstered also by Kevin Bonnefoi’s good entry into the cage, the MHB inflicted an 8-2 on their host (10-12, 24th).

Those from Montpellier continued to lead the debates (19-22, 45th), with the power of Karl Wallinius (5 goals) and Gilberto Duarte (3 goals), the former local goalkeeper. “Play with your head”, Patrice Canayer insisted during a timeout. The coach was listened to by his men… until the 55th minute. To see the quarterfinals, we will have to be focused until the end of the second leg.

In the other game of the day, Veszprem and Kentin Mahé (3 goals) put one foot and four fingers into the quarterfinals by crushing Vardar Skopje at home (30-22). The four Blues of the Macedonian club, Kévynn Nyokas (2 goals), his twin Olivier, Jérémy Toto (2 goals) and Bakary Diallo (1 goal) had a very difficult evening.

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