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04.11.2012, 21:45
Oltchim and FTC cruise into Main Round as Budućnost shine again
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Three more teams follow Györ to Main Round of the Women´s EHF Champions League as Oltchim, FTC and Larvik secured berths.
 

Oltchim and FTC cruise into Main Round as Budućnost shine again

Another EHF Champions League weekend rich with excitement resulted in four teams winning their Main Round berths as Oltchim and FTC joined Saturday’s qualifiers Gyori Audi ETO.

FTC’s win over Sävehof also sent 2011 winners Larvik through to the last eight, as neither the Swedish champions nor Dinamo Volgograd can leapfrog them into the runners-up spot.

There were some masterclass individual performances too: The league’s top scorer Milena Knežević rifled in 11 goals for holders Budućnost Podgorica, who bounced back in style from last weekend’s defeat in Germany with another effervescent performance on home court.

Serbia’s Sanja Damnjanović matched her tally for Podravka against Cluj and FTC sharpshooter Zita Szucsánszki did one better, scoring 12 to swing a dramatic game against Sävehof her team’s way.

But all three had the show stolen from them by Budućnost goalkeeper Clara Woltering, who battled through the pain of a double injury to pull of a stunning 51 percent of saves in a jam-packed Morača Hall.

Group A:
Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs HK Randers (DEN) 27:23 (10:10)


EHF Champions League favourites Oltchim waltzed their way into the Main round with another clinical display of efficiency, turning on the heat in the second half after a jittery opening period.

Randers fought as hard as they could for as long as they could but a more resourceful home team, boasting world class talent in every position, were simply too strong in every department.

Oltchim’s strength is a plethora of players who can take over the mantle when the going gets tough and this time it was their livewire middle back Aurelia Bradeanu, whose scorching long-range efforts went hand in hand with defence-splitting assists which she dished out like confetti.

Bradeanu finished as the game’s top scorer with seven goals and netted key shots, when Oltchim turned the halftime balance into a 19:14 lead. Cristina Neagu also unleashed several trademark shots while the support to the home team’s back court players came from all directions.

Pivots Ionela Stanca and Oana Manea ruthlessly punished the Randers defence every time they were left unmarked on the line, as did wingers Iulia Curea and her namesake Managrova.

The quartet scored a combined total of 14 goals to cancel out a valiant individual performance by six-goal Macarena Aguilar Diaz for Randers, with Camilla Dalby scoring five.

The Danish side now face a tough task to finish in the top two, knowing that their fate is not in their hands, with a third-place finish ahead of Germany’s Buxtehude looking a more likely outcome.

Group B
HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs U Jolidon Cluj (ROU) 28:21 (16:13)


The Podravka team performed a dance of joy on the court after the final whistle and for good reason too: an effervescent second half performance, marked by steely defence and lethal finishing up front, gave them an emphatic home win over Cluj and put them within touching distance of the Main Round.

Serbian left back Sanja Damnjanović was once again the driving force for the Croatian champions, having carried all the zest from her impressive opening three displays into a truly majestic 60 minutes on Sunday.

She led Podravka with a game-high 11 goals and was at the heart of a 7:0 run in the closing stages, which gave the home team an unassailable 28:19 lead and threw the fervent home fans into raptures.

The hosts suffered a bit of a scare when influential captain Miranda Tatari was carried of by her team with a painful injury, but the final whistle brought an eruption of joy in Korivnica.

Lidija Horvat and line player Vesna Milanović Litre scored five goals each for Podravka to provide the support cast for the inspirational Damnjanović.

The visitors, whose top scorer was Maria Tivadar with five goals, battled hard throughout the enthralling encounter but so far they have struggled with the kind of consistency required to slug it out with the best at Champions League level.

Group C
IK Sävehof (SWE) vs FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 32:34 (15:13)


Ferencváros booked their spot in the Main Round with a last-gasp win over
IK Sävehof after the Swedish champions pushed them to the limit in a rip-roaring encounter in Partille.

Buoyed by last weekend’s excellent performance in Hungary, when they also lost narrowly after being ahead for much of the game, Sävehof threw caution to the wind and enjoyed a three-goal lead throughout the opening period.

FTC had no reply for the home team’s fast breaks and their normally lethal left back Zsuzsanna Tomori was reduced to scoring just one goal from 10 shots, as Zita Szucsánszki and goalkeeper Melinda Pastrovics kept the visitors afloat.

Tomori rediscovered her shooting touch after the break, netting five goals from as many shots early on and Szucsánszki kept rifling them in but the home side were relentless until the 48th minute, when they led 27:25.

Ferencváros then engineered a 5:0 in four minutes to swing the tie their way and although Sävehof fought back valiantly to tie the score at 30:30 with five minutes left, the brilliant Szucsánszki delivered for Ferencváros when the chips were down.

She scored the last two goals for the Hungarian vice-champions and last season’s Cup Winners´ Cup conquerors to put her side through to the last eight, much to the delight of the entire FTC bench. Their win also sent 2011 EHF Champions League winners Larvik through to the Main Round, as neither Dinamo Volgograd nor Sävehof can overhaul the Norwegian team’s overall tally.

Szucsánszki led all scorers with 12 goals, followed by Tomori who netted eight. Ida Oden was the home team’s top scorer with seven goals, while Jenny Alm added six.

Group D
Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) vs Thüringer HC (GER) 23:15 (11:8)


EHF Champions League title holders Budućnost Podgorica produced an incredibly mature performance for a team as youthful as their new-look outfit, whose average age is under 21 after the departure of last season’s title-winning starters who were lured away by wealthier rivals.

German goalkeeper Clara Woltering, the solitary remaining stalwart of last season’s conquest of Europe, inspired a vintage home team when she took centre stage with an injured ankle and hand to wrack up a whopping 51 percent ratio of saves.

Woltering’s heroics even overshadowed another breathtaking performance by left back Milena Knežević, who rifled in 11 goals to surge back to the pinnacle of the competition’s top scorers list, leading the way with 36.

An iron-clad defence through most of the first half left Thüringer HC stranded and struggling to muster a decent shot on target, with Woltering marshalling an athletic and mobile 6-0 zone.

The home team’s only dip came in the last 10 minutes of the first half, when the German champions scored four in a row to cut down a seven-goal deficit, but it was back to one-way traffic after the interval.

Knežević was unstoppbale in front of Thüringer’s goal while Woltering saved one sitter after another at the other end, as the lead soared to 23:13 in the 58th minute.

The German team warmly congratulated their compatriot Woltering after the game, who was mobbed by her delighted team mates as the passionate Montenegrin crowd were thrown into raptures.

Budućnost are now one step away from progressing to the Main Round from a tricky group, which they top along with Zvezda Zvenigorod on six points each while Thüringer HC are still in contention with four.

Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) vs Viborg HK (DEN) 20:17 (8:9)

Zvezda stayed firmly in contention for a Main Round berth after beating Viborg in a physical and low-scoring contest, in which tough defending dominated over attacking play.

While Zvezda now have six points from four games and a good chance to reach the last eight, three-time European club champions Viborg face certain elimination from the continent’s elite competition – having suffered their fourth successive defeat this season.

The Danish team gave themselves a glimmer of hope as they led at halftime but could not contain Zvezda after the break, as the home team moved up a gear and celebrated the all-important victory on home court.

French right back Alexandra Lacrabère spearheaded Zvezda’s effort with six goals and 17-year old Anna Vyakhireva added four. Johanna Ahlm led Viborg with four goals, while Hungarian Anita Bulath and Louise Lyksborg scored three each.
 


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br
 
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