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02.03.2013, 20:36
Györ reach semi-finals as Oltchim bounce back
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Györi Audi ETO KC advance to the semi-finals with two games to spare

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Women's CL
»Main Round
»
 

Györ reach semi-finals as Oltchim bounce back

Last season’s Women's EHF Champions League finalists Györi Audi ETO KC advanced to the semi-finals with two games to spare after an impressive defeat of 2011 champions Larvik, who now face a tough battle to join them in the last four from Group 1.

Holders Budućnost Podgorica gave themselves a fighting chance with a draw at Randers but will in all likelihood need to win their next home game against Györ before their potentially decisive visit to Larvik.

In Group 2, Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea fought back and took control in the last 10 minutes to register an important win at Zvezda Zvenigorod, who are rooted to the bottom with no points from four games.

Krim Mercator are at home to Ferencváros in another crunch encounter on Sunday, 3 March in the battle to progress to the business end of Europe’s premier club competition.

Group 1

Randers HK (DEN) vs Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) 20:20 (11:8)


Women's EHF Champions League holders Budućnost Podgorica missed a great chance to go level on points with Larvik after throwing away a four-goal lead in the last 11 minutes of an absorbing contest in Denmark, where the home team picked up their first point in the Main Round.

The result left Budućnost on three points from four games, one less than Larvik ahead of what is shaping up to be a thrilling climax to the second group stage of the competition.

Randers made the brighter start and carved out a three-goal advantage in the first half, but the tide turned after the break as the Danish side relied heavily on French left wing Siraba Dembele and local talent Camilla Dalby, who scored 13 goals between them while only three of their team mates also netted for the home team.

Budućnost, on the other hand, had more goal-hungry players and led by pivot Dragana Cvijić who was their top performer with six goals, they seemed to be home and dry after romping away to a 19:15 lead in the 49th minute.

But the visitors’ attack then came to a screeching halt and roared on by their fans, Randers took advantage to earn a well-deserved point in the closing stages. 

Group 1

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Larvik (NOR) 30:24 (15:13)


Any doubts about Györ’s credentials of being the prime candidates to win this season’s competition were emphatically dispelled as the Hungarian title holders produced a masterclass performance against Larvik and booked a semi-final berth with two Main Round matches remaining.

Having lost the 2012 final to Budućnost Podgorica, Györ will head to the Montenegrin capital next weekend eager to get more revenge against their conquerors after beating them convincingly in the reverse Main Round fixture in front of their own fans earlier this year.

Larvik, who have no more room for error if they are to join Györ in the last four, held their own in the early stages but after being level at 8:8 midway through the first half, the Norwegians were blown away by one of the finest displays of defensive steel and attacking skill the competition has produced in recent history.

Györ’s Norwegian goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen was simply brilliant between the posts against her compatriots, racking up a stunning 15 saves by the 40th minute as the Hungarian side opened up a 22:16 lead halfway through the second period.

Larvik were powerless to stop Györ’s intricate passing around the six-metre line and the home team’s creativity generated a barrage of uncontested shots from good positions. Towering Brazilian left back Eduarda Amorim led the charge with seven goals, followed by Andrea Lekić who scored five.

Playmaker Anita Görbicz and line player Heidi Løke, another Norwegian stalwart who faced her former team mates, chipped in with four goals each to cap a flowing collective effort which propelled Györ into the last four.

The outstanding Haraldsen racked up a 50 percent save rate for the hosts, who can now head into their last two Main Round games with no pressure on their shoulders.

Larvik, whose top scorer was winger Linn-Kristin Koren Riegelhuth with six goals while Gro Hammerseng netted five, must now beat Randers at home in their next match to be assured of staying ahead of Budućnost Podgorica before the holders visit them in their potentially decisive clash on the final Main Round matchday. 

Group 2

Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) vs Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea (ROU) 23:26 (15:13)


Oltchim struggled for 50 minutes against a spirited Zvezda side but turned on the heat in the final 10 minutes as the individual quality of the star-studded Romanian outfit made all the difference in an enthralling clash of styles in Russia.

Zvezda, who are out of contention for a semi-final berth after their fourth successive defeat, held the upper hand for much of the game after brilliant goalkeeping by Victoriya Kalinina gave them a 3:1 lead in the 10th minute.

There was no way through for Oltchim from the perimeter in the first half as Montenegrin EHF EURO 2012 winner Katarina Bulatović was marked tightly, while Zvezda executed their fast breaks with lethal efficiency to engineer a 17:13 lead shortly after the interval.

Oltchim were scoreless in the opening six minutes of the second half and it seemed they were heading for a defeat that would have almost certainly meant an early exit for their expensively assembled outfit.

Line players Ioana Stanca and Oana Manea kept the visitors afloat as much as they could but when the going got tough, it was Paula Ungureanu who pulled off several key saves before Bulatović finally got going.

The lanky and strong right back, who also won the Women EHF Champions League with her former club Budućnost last season, started unleashing her trademark piledrivers from all angles and Oltchim never looked back after nosing ahead 21:20 in the 50th minute.

Zvezda just ran out of steam and ideas in attack in the last 10 minutes and the visitors pulled away to an unassailable 24:20 lead in the closing stages, as Bulatović finished on a high note and took the accolade of being the game’s top scorer with seven goals.

Ungureanu saved 47 percent of the shots that came her way and Oltchim can now look forward to their crucial visit to Ferencvaros next weekend, eager to reverse the setback they suffered on home court against the Hungarians when they met in Romania in their opening Main Round game.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / cor
 
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