Group I becoming simple, Group II complicated. Read the summary of the weekend.
Women's Summary: Main Round Day 3
Hypo Niederösterreich remain the only main round team with a clean record: The Austrians beat Viborg in the top match of Round 3 and took the lead in Group I. All four teams can still reach the semi-finals from Group II, as Győr lost their first match in Valcea.
Hypo Niederösterreich- Viborg HK 30:28 (16:13)
Hypo won the “clash of titans”. In a match of world class players, the Austrians remained spotless. Viborg did not only lose the two points, but also their biggest star, Bojana Popovic, who suffered a serious knee injury. While Hypo are number one with 6:0 points, Viborg still have all the chances for the semi-finals with 4:2 points.
The Danes started better and with full speed. Until 10:10 the match was mostly equal, before Hypo took the lead for the first time. The hosts took a three-goal lead by halftime in an outstanding game. But Viborg fought back, turned the page – exactly until the moment when Bojana Popovic had to leave the court in tears. The doctors say that it could be a torn cruciate ligament.
The match winners of Hypo in the final stage were goalkeeper Sabine Englert and the 18-year old Hungarian Vivien Léránt, who scored three outstanding goals. The match was decided at 30:27 when also Idalina Borges Mesquita scored.
The best scorer of Hypo was Tímea Tóth with eight goals; Grit Jurack scored seven for Viborg.
“It’s hard to lose this match and lose Bojana,” Viborg coach Jakob Vestergaard said. “We started well, but we made too many mistakes in offence, while our defence stood very strong. This was a handball game on the highest level by two world class teams.”
Ikast-Brande EH - Podravka Koprivnica 28:31 (15:13)
Ikast are out of race for the semi-finals after their third defeat from three games. Even as the Danes were leading 15:13, the Croatian team from Koprivnica won 31:28 at the end. The Croats still have some chance to reach the knock-out stage.
Ikast started well and kept the lead until the break. But coming out of the cabin, the spirit and will of Podravka changed completely: within 12 minutes – with the goals of Ana Dokic – the team from Koprivnica equalised and went into the lead at 21:20 for the first time.
As Ikast couldn’t reduce the number of technical mistakes, Podravka extended their lead, especially as Ikast top star Gro Hammerseng (best scorer with six goals) had to leave the court with an injury. Even as goalkeeper Ödegaard made some spectacular saves, Ikast could only hope for a victory until 26:28. Then Koprivnica improved in attack again and won the match.
“We had to see that we need a lot more to reach the semi-finals. This year we’re out of race, but we can show our strength now without any pressure,” Ikast coach Kenneth Jensen said.
Franic scored seven for Podravka, but goalkeeper Jelcic also showed a great performance.
Oltchim Valcea – Győri ETO 28:26 (16:14)
Everything is possible at halftime of main round in Group II. All four teams still have a chance to reach the semi-finals top favourite Győr lost their match in Valcea. The Romanians are the new number one in the group due to the direct encounter and a better goal difference, though Győr have the same number of points (4).
As both teams played on full speed, the 2,500 spectators saw a high class match and a well deserved Romanian victory. Both goalkeepers, Dinu and Pálinger, showed a great performance, but as the form of Pálinger declined towards the end Györ coach Csaba Konkoly changed to Herr. The reserve goalie made big saves, but couldn’t save Győr from defeat.
From the first to the last minute it was a kind of a duel between Lecusanu (Valcea) and Görbicz (Győr), who were the most prolific. In the end Görbicz won this duel – unlike her team – with ten to seven goals.
Valcea speeded up by the mid first half and kept the lead nearly for the whole game. Even some changes in the Győr defence didn’t bring success or the lead to the Hungarians.
“We fought until the end, but Valcea were better today. I’m looking forward to the next meeting in Hungary,” Győr player Simona Spiridon said.
“We showed our character - and thanks to Dinu we won the match,” Valcea player Steluta Luca said.
For the new coach Radu Voina the match was special – as he remains unbeaten in the Champions League.
“We knew that it would be a hard match for us; it took 56 minutes until it was obvious that we would win. Our players were strong and quick and that was important.”
RK Krim Ljubljana - Buducnost Podgorica 35:28 (15:14)
Krim celebrated their first victory in the main round and Buducnost lost the second match in a row. Both teams have 2:4 points now and still have a possibility to go through to the semi-finals.
1,800 fans saw a completely equal first half in the Balkan derby even as Krim were in the lead at the very beginning by 5:1.
Buducnost, led by Katarina Bulatovic (8 goals), could equalise again before the break and took the lead at 14:13. Krim then scored twice to make it 15:14 at halftime.
As Krim’s top scorer, Mörtel, hit the net from the 7-m line and from eight metres after the break, Krim extended their lead to 24:20 and 27:24. The match was decided at 31:26 in the 55th minute.
“This was a great and highly important victory for us,” Krim coach Marta Bon said. “This match showed the development of our team and it showed that we belong to the eight best teams of Europe. Buducnost fought until the end, but due to our better defence we won the match deservedly.”
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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