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28.02.2016, 19:30
Buducnost win group as Györ overpower Bucuresti
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GROUP 2 REVIEW: Reigning champions Buducnost clinch a tough Main Round group with a flawless home win over Midtjylland, booking a quarter-final clash with HCM Baia Mare

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Buducnost win group as Györ overpower Bucuresti

Sunday’s doubleheader produced top quality handball and a perfect dress rehearsal for the knockout stage, as the favourites lived up to their billing.

Holders Buducnost set up a quarter-final clash with Romanian rivals HCM Baia Mare, while Györ finished behind them and will be pitted against fellow Hungarians FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria for a FINAL4 berth in Budapest.

With these matches concluding the Main Round, teams will now start preparing for their respective quarter-final ties.

The first leg will be played on the weekend of 1-3 April, and the return leg 8-10 April.

GROUP 2

Buducnost (MNE) vs FC Midtjylland (DEN) 27:21 (14:7)

Buducnost produced a razor-sharp performance against their Danish rivals, showing that the reigning champions from Montenegro will again be the team to beat in the knockout rounds.

The EHF Champions League holders sent an ominous warning to the rest of the field, after their ironclad defence and a fast-flowing attack blew away Midtjylland and set up a quarter-final date with Romanians HCM Baia Mare.

With Györi Audi ETO KC earning a 24:22 win at CSM Bucuresti in the day’s curtain-raiser, Buducnost had to take two points to keep the fiercely competitive section’s top spot.

They did it with some aplomb, as Europe’s most feared outfit demonstrated their talent and class against a battling opponent, undone by a team of superior quality.

Driven by right back Kristina Bulatovic and her teammate at the opposite end, Cristina Neagu, Buducnost turned an early 3:3 stalemate into a decisive 10:6 lead, using space on the wings and the six-metre line with incisive and quick passing.

Midtjylland struggled at the other end against an ironclad defence, which opened up a flurry of fast breaks for Buducnost.

The home side converted them with ruthless efficiency, as Bulatovic and Neagu netted three goals each in the first half and were aided by five other scorers.

A 4:1 streak in the closing stages of the first half gave Buducnost a whopping 14:7 lead at the interval, setting the stage for a rampant second half.

Unrelenting in their quest to race through the finish line at full speed, the defending champions pulled away to 21:8, roared on by the Moraca Hall’s delighted home crowd.

The visitors launched a valiant late rally to bow out of Europe’s premier club competition with their pride intact, slashing the deficit to a respectable six-goal margin at the final whistle.

Dragan Adzic, head coach of Buducnost commented post match:

"We finished first in the group and that's great! Also when you think of the problems we had.

"We expected that Main Round would be more difficult this season.

"The girls were at this level, and I'm glad we were able to maintain concentration after the defeat to Vardar."

Kristian Kristensen of FC Midtjylland commented after the match:

"Buducnost confirmed that they are one of the best teams in the Champions league.

"The girls have given it their all. There is a clear difference in the physical abilities of the two teams, but in the second half we did well I felt."

CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) 22:24 (8:14)    

Hungarian force Györi Audi ETO KC boosted their bid to win a third EHF Champions League title, after a resilient performance in neighbouring Romania gave them a hard-earned win over CSM Bucuresti.

It left Györ second in a fiercely competitive section, level on points with winners Buducnost but behind on the two teams’ head-to-head record, after a 22:20 home win over the Montenegrin giants was overhauled by a 25:22 defeat in Podgorica.

Their reward will be a quarter-final tie with perennial domestic rivals FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, the third-placed team from Group 1, while Bucuresti will face the section’s Russian winners Rostov-Don.

Propelled by Linn Jorum Sulland, Györ raced into an 8:3 lead as the Norwegian right back rifled in four superb goals.
 
The home side refused to roll over, though, with their Swedish prodigy Isabelle Gulldén was in blistering shooting form.

She scored four of her team’s eight goals in the first half, but they just couldn’t keep up with a deeper roster at the other end.

"I think we played two different halves: A bad first half when Györ punished us for everything, but in the second half we went out as a different team and we fought for the win. We are satisfied with the second half and we can go out of this game and feel good about ourselves," said Gullden.

When a whitewash seemed to be on the cards, Bucuresti found the inspiration to fight back in the second half, coming close to forcing a final twist.

With Sulland and fellow Norwegian Heidi Loke registering five goals each for Györ, as the visitors still had a commanding 19:15 lead, the Romanian side scored three times in quick succession to set up a tense finish.

But Györ were able to hang on with the relentless Gulldén, who finished as the game’s top scorer with eight goals, marked tightly in the home straight.

The home side - also relying heavily on Oana Manea as the towering line player chipped in with six goals - was forced to take a barrage of difficult shots by a stiff Györ defence in the last few minutes.

Loke and Sulland topped Györ’s scoring with five goals apiece while their compatriot Ida Alstad added four, giving their win a Norwegian flavour in an enjoyable atmosphere.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / bc
 
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