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15.10.2011, 22:20
Nail-biting thrillers
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Victories for Byåsen and Oltchim, and a draw in Viborg in Round 3 of the EHF Women´s Champions League.
 

Nail-biting thrillers

Match day 1 of Round 3 brought three tense and exciting matches, and whilst in Trondheim, Byåsen and Thüringer HC had a dominant half each, culminating in a close finish, Viborg drew in an even head-to-head match against Podravka. In the match of the day, Oltchim caused something of a sensation by defeating last year´s CL finalist Itxako in a super game.

GROUP A

Byåsen (NOR) vs. Thüringer HC (GER) 23:22 (13:7)

A well fought win for Byåsen and an unlucky finish for Thüringer HC meant that the Norwegians celebrated a home victory, whilst coach Herbert Müller´s team is still without points in the EHF Champions League.

After the first period, Ida Alstad and her colleagues looked like the clear winners of this duel, with disciplined teamwork being the key to their massive lead.

A tight game had been predicted, but after 13 minutes of a level match, the Norwegians made a quick burst to 7:1, with an intelligent game plan and some fascinating attacks, the trademarks for this successful period.

On the Thüringer side, not much worked. The defensive wall contained too many holes and coach Herbert Müller´s back-court clearly failed its outstanding goalkeeper Terese Pedersen.

In the second half it was Daly Mesquita and Katrin Engel who made great efforts to close the gap to the home side, and showing great fighting spirit the Germans came as close as one goal. They failed in their attacks to level the match, though, and Byåsen clung to their slim lead in the dying minutes to deservedly win the game.

GROUP B

Viborg HK (DEN) vs. HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) 27:27 (12:14)

What an exciting thriller in Denmark! Outsider Podravka were dominating almost the whole game, but Viborg bravely turned the match, snatched the lead, and in the end, the big clash ended as a draw. This was probably a good result for group leader Krim and title defender Larvik.

The Danes were hoping to iron out the Slovenian nightmare from last weekend, and Martin Albertsen´s team made a fresh start and surprised the Croats. As soon as Serbian international Sanja Damnjanović found her attacking skills, Podravka turned the match and established a comfortable lead, helped by the direct suspension of Viborg playmaker Johanna Ahlm.

Her replacement Mouna Chebbah was the leading force for the catch-up phase in the second half. Chebbah made some important eye-catching goals and assists and both Grit Jurack and Marit Malm Frafjord helped the home side to close the gap to provide an exciting finish.

A lot of great moments and nail-biting minutes followed in this thriller. Close to the end Viborg had the lead, then Podravka scored twice, but an outstanding Rikke Skov (3 important goals in the deciding minutes) leveled the match to an unsatisfactory draw for both parties.

GROUP D

Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP) vs. C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) 22:25 (12:10)

In the match-up of the group leaders, powerhouse Oltchim, thanks to their fighting spirit, took the two points from Spain and are on the way to the top 8.

It was the expected highly tense and marvelous battle between two different handball cultures, with the home side making the better start. The Romanians seemed to lack concentration at the beginning and Itxako, with their fascinating dirigent Macarena Aguilar, used every opportunity to score.

Radu Voina´s team woke up in time and his side got used to the unlucky Itxako attacks that either ended-up on the woodwork or straight at Oltchim goalkeeper Talida Tolnai. In this phase Itxako could have led by a comfortable 3-5 goals, but instead, the second half promised a tight game.

With the entry of Patritia Vizitiu coach Voina brought some fresh wind to the Romanian attacks and Turkish international Yeliz Özel also showed her great qualities. After 40 minutes the away side leveled to 15:15 and was back in the game.

Individual mistakes happened on Itxako´s side, whilst the Romanians gained much confidence. After taking the lead in the 46th minute, Voina´s team moved into top gear and crushed Itxako. Despite a time out by coach Ambros Martín, the entry of injured Begoña Fernández and an aggressive 4 to 2 defence, the home side wasn´t able to stop Özel and her colleagues from delivering their best performance of the season so far, and becoming the favourite to win the group.


TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
 
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