In the first round of Group B of the EHF European League, Sporting Clube de Portugal went all out and beat CS Dínamo Bucuresti 25-27, taking revenge from being knocked out of the Champions League in 2018-19.
After some inconsistency in their performances in the Placard Handball 1 Championship (and knowing the value of the opponent), the Sporting fans were nervous of this match. However, Rui Silva‘s team did not disappoint and won fairly thanks to excellent performances by Manuel Gaspar on goal and Pedro Valdes.
The match was balanced from the opening whistle. Playing at home, Dinamo were in the lead of the scorer since the 1-0 and forced the lions to sweat. The visitors remained in the fight but made the same mistakes seen in their games in Portugal: missed passes, bad receptions, lack of defensive intensity, a lot of unforced errors. The home team took advantage and quickly got to three goals ahead through ex-Sporting right-wing Valentin Ghionea.
However, Carlos Ruesga appeared when he was most needed. With a series of important goals, the centre-back took the initiative and helped Sporting recover from the disadvantage and reach the lead for the first time with 28 minutes passed, meaning that the lions returned to the dressing room for the break, ahead by 15-16.
The second half saw the visitors open with everything (contrary to what had happened in the first part) and managed to distance themselves in the scoreboard reaching the three of difference (15-18).
Sporting seemed ready to take off and manage the last few minutes, but a drop in intensity allowed Bucuresti to return to the fight and take the lead (24-23) when the game entered the final ten minutes.
The final part of the match was marked by a lesser offensive efficiency (in the last ten minutes only four goals were scored), but in the important moments the Lisbon talent stood out and Sporting achieved their first victory in this group stage, winning by 25- 27.
Individually, Valentin Ghionea was the top scorer with eight goals in nine shots. On the green-and-white side, Pedro Valdes stood out with six goals, and Manuel Gaspar shone with 41% saving percentage and 11 saves.