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08.05.2010, 18:41
Viborg with good chances
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The title holders take a seven-goal lead to the second leg.
 

Viborg with good chances

In last season´s Women´s Champions League finals it was actually an advantage to play away. The Hungarian Györ won the first leg away against Viborg HK 26-24 – but only to see the Danes take the trophy through a 26-23 away win a week later.

This year Viborg are back in the finals again this time facing Romanian champions Oltchim Valcea. The situation is somewhat different as Viborg will be going to the second leg in Bucharest next Saturday with a seven-goal lead after a 28-21 win in front of 4,000 spectators in Messecenter Herning, 45 kilometers from Viborg´s usual home ground, Viborg Stadionhal.

The importance of the match was pretty obvious from the beginning, as both teams started pretty nervously. However, Valcea had a small upper hand for the first quarter of an hour, mainly because the Romanians continued to take the initiative in their defence, where they practised a quite aggressive version of the 6:0 system, with Patricia Vizitu, Ionela Stanca or Steluta Luca taking turns at going forward in the right side, disturbing Viborg´s attacking player quite a lot.

However, the visitors never succeeded in creating more than a two goal lead in this phase, and the home team soon got their game adjusted to the challenge fromValcea defence, and through their also strong defence, and although the nervousness still caused both teams to make several mistakes in the attack, Viborg managed to change the course of the game after a quarter of an hour. After 16 minutes and 30 seconds, the hosts had their first lead at 8-7, and this lead was soon extended to 10-7.

Viborg managed to keep this three goal lead for the rest of the first half, in which the two goalkeepers, Katrine Lunde Haraldsen by Viborg andPaula Ungureanu from Valcea were among the dominating profiles on the court, and at half time the score was 14-11 for Viborg.

The Popovic show

The second half opened with some kind of one-woman show by Bojana Popovic who played her 100th match for Viborg. Four goals in succession did the Montenegrin international score at the beginning of the second half, and 6 of her 8 goals were scored after the breal.

Popovic´s performance played an import part in the fact that Viborg managed to increase the distance during most of the second half. Another important factor was goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen who continued her fine performance from the first half and made no less than 21 saves during the entire match.

A strong Viborg defence, a strong counter-phase, and a still nervous Romanian team who got more and more respect for Haraldsen, were other reasons, why Viborg could increase their lead to no less than ten goals at 28-18 with less than five minutes left. However, Valcea never gave up, and knowing that each and every goal counts, they managed to score the last three goals, narrowing the distance down to 28-21 at the end. This brought a certain amount of consolation to the 300 Valcea fans who continued to support their team enthusiastically, even in the darkest moments.

Bojana Popovic was Viborg´s most scoring player with 8 goals, while Christina Neagu hit the net 5 times for Valcea.

Not over yet

Even though Viborg were ten goals ahead less than five minutes before the end, the hosts were happy with a seven goal lead with them to Romania.

“Before the match we would have been happy to win by five, so we have a really good feeling right now. All the pressure is on Valcea now, and we usually play well away!”, Viborg coach Jakob Vestergaard told eurohandball.com.

Valcea´s Narcissa Lecusanu was less optimistic:

“We never got to our play. I do not know, if we can turn things around in the return match, but we will at least have to make a good performance. After all, this is the final!”


TEXT: Peter Bruun
 
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