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04.04.2015, 21:20
Rampant Vardar edge towards MVM EHF FINAL4
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QUARTER-FINAL REVIEW: The Macedonian champions produced their best performance of the season in the Women’s EHF Champions League to close in on a second successive appearance in Budapest
 

Rampant Vardar edge towards MVM EHF FINAL4

In line with the old proverb that when the going gets tough, the tough get going, Vardar treated their passionate fans in the Jane Sandanski Arena to an effervescent performance peppered with fast breaks and great saves by both their goalkeepers.

A six-goal win over holders Györi Audi ETO in the first leg of their quarter-final tie is no guarantee they will progress to the MVM EHF FINAL4 against the most resourceful opposition, but it represents a huge step towards the season-ending showdown.

Women’s EHF Champions League Quarter-final Leg 1
WHC Vardar SCBT (MKD) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) 24:18 (14:10)

Not even the most optimistic Vardar supporters expected a six-goal win against the defending champions but the result in no way flattered the Macedonian giants, who blew away Györ to set up a mouth-watering return leg in Hungary next week.

For all their experience and trophy-laden past, the holders might struggle to overcome a deficit which looks like a mountain to climb after Vardar shone at both ends of the court, combining a free-flowing attack with ironclad defending.

The home side raced into a 6:2 lead early on but an error-strewn patch then allowed Györ to draw level with four unanswered goals, prompting fears among the home faithful that the match was about to be turned on its head.

However, Vardar replied instantly with a 3:0 run of their own as Inna Suslina saved two penalties in the opening period while right wing Jovanka Radicevic netted a spectacular in-flight goal extending the advantage to 13:9 shortly before half-time.

It was left back Andrea Penezic’s turn to take over the mantle for Vardar early in the second half as she scored three successive goals to keep the home side in the driving seat.

Fast breaks, ruthlessly dispatched by Radicevic who stole the show in the last quarter of the game, continued to hurt Györ but Vardar kept giving away penalties at the other end which Anna Sen converted with some aplomb.

But that changed when French goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud pulled off a brilliant double save from Sen with the score 19:15, keeping out her seven-metre penalty shot and the rebound to inject fresh wind into her team’s sails.

Vardar were six goals to the good in no time as Radicevic continued to do the damage and Leynaud put the icing on the cake with another penalty save in a thrilling climax, as the home side were reduced to five court players in the last two minutes after another suspension.

The unstoppable Radicevic led the home side with seven goals, Penezic netted five and Serbia playmaker Andrea Lekic, who at times bedazzled the opposition with her no-look passes, added four.

Sen led a subdued Gyor with five goals and Spaniard Macarena Aguilar added four for the Hungarian side, who now face an uphill battle to avoid an early exit.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / cor
 
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