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11.11.2012, 21:55
Four Main Round berths still on hold
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Three times winners from Viborg lost the last chance to continue in the European club competitions, after they were defeated by Thüringer HC
 

Four Main Round berths still on hold

Fast and furious action in the Women’s EHF Champions League continued with all eight matches of Round 5 being played on Sunday and some of them truly lived up to the billing of being titanic clashes.

None of the teams seeking the four Main Round berths still available were able to secure their passage to the last eight, meaning that the battle will go down to the wire next weekend.

Holders Budućnost Podgorica are among the sides whose fate is still hanging in the balance, following their tame 31:25 defeat at Zvezda Zvenigorod, who went top of Group D but are still not assured of a spot in the next stage of the 16-team competition.

Hypo versus Randers and the regional derby between Krim Mercator and Podravka Vegeta are a pair of dogfights that will directly determine which two of these four teams will proceed.

Group A
Hypo NÖ (AUT) vs Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) 24:25 (12:14)


What a game of handball in Maria Enzersdorf. Hypo came agonisingly close to snatching the point they needed to seal a Main Round berth but a fantastic save on the buzzer by Oltchim goalkeeper Paula Ungureanu, when she kept out Deonise Cavaleiro’s sitter, meant they now head into their final Group Match on slippery ground.

Hypo will qualify if they can avoid a seven-goal defeat at Randers and their performance against Oltchim suggests they should be up to the task. They gave as good as they got in a rollercoaster match, where the lead kept changing hands until the thrilling climax which went Oltchim’s way. The Romanian champions, boasting some of the world’s most recognizable household names after heavy investment, have five wins out of five and sealed the top spot in their group.

Montenegrin right back Katarina Bulatović masterminded Oltchim’s victory with a five-star display of speed, strength and shooting prowess, scoring 10 goals on a day when she could do no wrong.

A plethora of other players, led by Cristina Neagu and Aurelia Bradeanu who scored three goals each, provided a solid support cast epitomised by the outstanding Ungureanu.

She kept out a two successive penalty shots in the dramatic finish, with Oltchim fighting back from 8:4 down to lead at halftime before Hypo again swung the game their way after the break and lead 22:19.

But it was the competition’s favourites, along with Györi Audi ETO, who landed the knockout blow in the final twist of the fascinating encounter, as the unstoppable Bulatović pierced through Hypo’s defence virtually at will.

Brazilian Deonise Cavaliero Fachinello led Hypo’s effort with eight goals and Bernadett Temes added five for the home side, who gave Oltchim a good run for their money.

Buxtehuder SV (GER) vs Randers HK (DEN) 27:33 (11:16)

Buxtehude’s baptism by fire in this season’s Group Matches continued with a fifth straight defeat which spells an early exit from Europe in a very tough group. Randers, in contrast, have not only secured a third-place finish and the consolation prize of a Cup Winners´ Cup berth but also a chance to wriggle into the Main Round.

The Danish team’s convincing win over their German rivals means that Randers can leap over Hypo if they beat them by seven goals or more in their decisive clash next weekend.

Wingers made the difference on a good day for the visitors, as Gitte Andersen dispatched seven goals from the right flank and French opposite number Siraba Dembele added five from the left. Right back Camilla Dalby also scored five for a more resourceful Randers team, cancelling out good solo efforts by Jana Staplefeldt (7 goals) and Lone Fischer (6) for Buxtehude.

Group B
U Jolidon Cluj (ROU) vs RK Krim Mercator (SLO) 23:31 (12:15)


Krim’s topsy-turvy season in the EHF Champions League took the most desirable course for them on Sunday, as their convincing win at top flight newcommers Cluj went hand in hand with Podravka’s home defeat by Györi Audi ETO.

Fine goalkeeping by Jelena Grubišić and quick ball movement in attack generated Krim’s win in Romania, as Cluj somehow hung on in the first half but were undone after the break.

Good defence produced plenty of fast breaks and easy goals for Krim, whose left wing Tamara Mavsar led the way with six goals on her account. German acquisitions Nina Wörz and Susann Müller scored five each for the visitors, who pulled away with an 11:3 run in the second half that propelled them to a 28:17 lead.

Krim, who have been decimated by injuries in the Group Matches, have given themselves a fighting chance of achieving the deisgnated goal of reaching the Main Round, as they now have their fate in their own hands.

Having lost the reverse fixture at Podravka 25:22, Krim now need to win by four clear goals to squeeze the Croatian team out and themselves into the last eight of the competition.

HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs Györi Audi ETO (HUN) 22:29 (11:14)

Last season’s EHF Champions League runners-up Györi Audi ETO proved their credentials to make the final step this season after an emphatic win in fervent atmosphere in Koprivnica.

Having secured their Main Round berth in the previous round with an equally impressive victory against Krim Mercator, the Hungarian title holders dictated proceedings from start to finish in a one-sided contest.

The match also produced a fascinating battle between Serbian backs Andrea Lekić of Györ and Podravka’s Sanja Damnjanović, the latter getting some consolation in scoring a game-high eight goals which couldn’t prevent the Croatian champions from losing the match.

It was the early storm from Lekić, in fact, which allowed the visitors to build their lead patiently through steelish defence and the middle back’s superb finishing and passing.

The Serbian national team captain finished with seven goals, most of them at crunch time when Podravka were clinging on in an effort to get back into the game. Anikó Kovacsics also shone for Györ with six goals, while Montenegrin right wing Jovanka Radičević added five largely thanks to a productive first half.

She took advantage every time she found space on her flank and gave her markers a roasting in the opening 30 minutes.

Missing their injured captain Miranda Tatari who is also set to miss out on December’s EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, Podravka had to rely mainly on the invidual skill of Damnjanović, while line player Vesna Milanović Litre, who held her own well, netted five goals for the home side.

Podravka now have a decisive encounter against fellow former Yugoslavs Krim Mercatror in what has become a traditional regional derby between the Slovenian and the Croatian champions. Podravka will advance if they avoid losing by four goals or more in Ljubljana, after Krim stayed in the hunt with a reassuring win at Cluj.

Group C
IK Sävehof (SWE) vs. Larvik HK (NOR) 25:29 (13:11)

Larvik are ready for the group final at home against FTC Rail Cargo on Saturday after their four goal win in the Scandinavian derby. But they had to work much harder for the two points this time than in their home game against the Swedish champions which ended in a clear 39:31 win for Larvik.

The many Larvik fans among the 1,066 spectators in Partillebohallen were probably expecting smooth sailing for their heroines in the beginning of the match, where Larvik took an early two goal lead, mainly thanks to an impressive performance by veteran goalkeeper Cecilie Leganger who saved Sävehof´s first two 7 meter shots along with a series of other excellent saves.

As Swedish international Filippa Idéhn in the Sävehof goal improved a lot during the first half, though, the hosts got back into the game and could take a surprising 13:11 lead with them into the cabin at half time.

After the break, Larvik, who were already sure to proceed to the Main Round, managed to tighten the grip again and take back the lead, but not until the last five minutes were they able to increase their lead to more than two goals.

Larvik, who now have 8 points for 5 matches, had their top scoring player in Linn Jørum Sulland, who scored 6 goals, while Jamina Roberts scored 8 times for Sävehof, who are still without a point.

FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) 30:28 (14:17)

Ferencváros extended their unbeaten run to five games but not before Dinamo put up a spirited fight and took a surprise first-half lead in Dabas.

FTC, who sealed their Main Round berth last weekend, might have expected an easier ride after beating the Russian side 37:21 in the reverse fixture in Volgograd, but were made to work hard for their victory.

Zita Szucsánski and Zsuzsanna Tomori netted nine goals apiece for Ferencváros, who stayed top of the group two points ahead of Larvik before their clash in Norway next weekend.

Their duel will determine the group winners after Larvik beat fellow Scandinavians Sävehof 29:25 for their fourth win, as both FTC and the 2011 EHF Champions League winners has previously booked their Main Round tickets.

Group D
Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) vs Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) 31:25 (17:12)


Zvezda stretched their remarkable winning streak to four games after an impressive dismissal of the reigning champions lifted them to the top of the group before the final round of matches.

But they are still not mathematically certain of progressing to the Main Round as Budućnost and German champions Thüringer HC are still in the hunt, with the tough three-way battle for two spots in the last eight heading for a fascinating climax.

With Marina Vukčević standing in goal instead of the injured Clara Woltering, Budućnost’s defence looked porous and unable to contain lethal long-range artillery from Zvezda’s backs, who pounded the visiting goal relentlessly.

Julija Nikolić, Liudmila Postnova and French livewire Alexandra Lacrabère rifled in nine goals each for a staggering combined total of 27 between the three of them, while Zvezda contained the competition’s top scorer Milena Knežević at the other end in the pivotal early stage of the match.

Zvezda raced into a 12:5 lead and although Knežević found some momentum in the second half to also finish the game on nine goals, the Montenegrin side just couldn’t catch up.

In order to avoid an early exit, Budućnost have to at least match THC’s result in the final round, with the looming possibility of all three contenders finishing on eight points.

Viborg HK (DEN) vs. Thüringer HC (GER) 26:29 (11:16)

Thüringer HC kept their chances to qualify for the Main Round alive, while not even 12 goals by Swedish international Isabel Gulldén could save Viborg´s last hope of playing European handball after New Year.

Viborg got the better start, getting two goals up, but THC soon took over the initiative and went from being down 5:3 to being up 14:9. That five goal lead held till half time, where the Germans were leading 16:11.

Another good Viborg start in the second half reduced the difference to one goal at 20:21, but the home team, who needed a four goal win in order to maintain their theoretical chance to finish third in the group and qualify for the Cup Winners´ Cup, did not come any closer. In the last minutes, then, the Thüringer HC win was not really threatened.

Katrin Engel became top scorer with 8 goals for visitors who are still in third position, but with 6 points just like Budućnost. Viborg is in the unusual situation of being without a single point after five matches.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević, Peter Bruun / br
 
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