Marseille defence step up, bag three points with a 19-minute shutout

Day 9, Group B – CN Marseille (FRA) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 9-6

To retain some very slim hope – this was at stake in the game of the two bottom-ranked sides. Sabadell’s only win came against Marseille – that was the lowest point for the French who had managed to reach the Final 8 in the previous two seasons but until this round they looked to have got very far from making the cut again. Now they are three points closer, though still face a huge mountain to climb.

The first half saw constantly changing fortunes. Marseille jumped to a 2-0 lead, the Spaniards hit back to 2-2, only to see the hosts rebuilding the two-goal gap by the end of the opening quarter. Sabadell came back strong and stunned the French early on, a double in 39 seconds brought them back to even once more, and Bernat Sanahuja’s great action goal even put them ahead in the middle of the second at 4-5. 

Similar chain of events happened to Marseille on numerous occasions so far in the season, that’s why they stood where they did before this game. However, this time they responded well, Ugo Crousillat sent the ball home from the next possession, and he netted another extra with 2:18 to go, so the hosts were back in business at 6-5.

Uros Cuckovic wasn’t famous for scoring action goals from the right wing – now he surprised the goalie in 30 seconds and that kicked in the French machine. Deep into the third they added two in 39 seconds for a massive 9-5 lead while Sabadell were unable to beat the hosts’ defence. Though few would have guessed that Marseille, after staging a 5-0 run, wouldn’t score any more in the remaining 12 minutes – but this time it didn’t matter as the Spaniards were shut out for even longer, 19:09 minutes. Indeed, they missed six man-ups alone in the second half, including a 6 on 4 at the beginning of the fourth, so a late goal with 1:23 to go, from action, was not even a consolation at the end.

How they saw it

Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille

“It was great how the players reacted. This is the most difficult task as you may say that you can learn from defeats, but you can never accept them. Now we had this amazing reaction, we need to believe and keep going, this is the only thing we can do.”

Quim Colet, coach, Sabadell

“Marseille was another team, compared to the one we had met in Sabadell. This was a strong team whose performance today was very good. We were competitive too, our defence was good, but in attack we were weaker. Marseille was on a different level in defence, but this is not surprising, they have only top players, while my bench players are not among the top ones in Europe.”

Top players – my bench are not top in Europe