QUARTER-FINAL REVIEW: The Russian side already progressed to the second last stage of the Women's EHF Cup following a double victory against Bayer Leverkusen on the weekend
Astrakhanochka reach semi-final while Fehervar and Lada get close
Astrakhanochka is the first team that is ready for the semi-final of the Women's EHF Cup.
This is a fact after the Russian side defeated TSV Bayer Leverkusen 58:53 on aggregate in a double header in Russia this weekend.
Fehérvár KC are very close to following Astrakhanochka to the semis, after the Hungarian team won as clearly as 28:21 in Romania against U Jolidon Cluj, and 2012 winners Lada can also see the semi-final on the horizon after beating København Håndbold 27:19.
Finally, Dinamo Volgograd are on the way to give Russian handball three teams among the best four after a 36:30 home win against Team Esbjerg.
First leg: Astrakhanochka (RUS) vs TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER) 30:28 (20:15)
Second leg: TSV Bayer Leverkusen (GER) vs Astrakhanochka (RUS) 25:28 (15:17) // Aggregate score 58:53
Astrakhanochka are ready for the semi-finals after two close wins on home court against Bayer Leverkusen.
In the first leg on Saturday they were leading with seven goals in the first half and with five at half-time, but the Russian team had to be eventually content with a two-goal win in front of 4,000 spectators in the Sportcomplex "Zvezdnyi."
"After the break we had a good grip on things," Leverkusen coach Heike Ahlgrimm said after the first match.
The German team may also have felt that they had a 'good grip on things' in the second match on Sunday, as the Saturday result obviously left everything open ahead of the game, for which 3,000 spectators showed up.
However, the grip that Leverkusen may have felt they had, did not help then, as the Russian team won by three this time, 28:25 after a 17:15 lead at half-time – a result which sends Astrakhanochka to the semi-final.
U Jolidon Cluj (ROM) vs Fehérvár KC (HUN) 21:28 (10:14)
The entire handball world was able to follow this duel on ehfTV.com, but Cluj would probably have liked another home match to be on display for such a large audience.
The Hungarian visitors, on the other hand, can only be happy with their appearance as well as with the seven-goal win which brings them very close to the semi-final ahead of the second leg in Fehérvár next Sunday.
The 2,500 spectators saw Cluj score the first goal of the match, but Fehérvár scored the following six and eventually increased the gap to several nine-goal leads.
However, in the last six minutes of the first half, the hosts enjoyed their best period in the match, as they managed to double their own score and change a 5:14 deficit into a 10:14 deficit at half-time.
In the second half, Cluj managed to reduce the distance to three goals a couple of times, but towards the end Fehérvár succeeded in creating a substantial lead again.
Lada (RUS) vs København Håndbold (DEN) 27:19 (15:7)
Lada, who won the EHF Cup in 2012, maintained their chance to repeat that triumph this season.
On Saturday the Russian team took a major step towards the semi-final with a 27:19 win at home.
Lada were dominating from the star and already before half-time had they built up a nine goal lead at 15:6.
In the second half the visitors came a bit closer, reducing the gap to six goals at 24:18, but in the end Lada reestablished the eight-goal lead they had already enjoyed at half-time.
Former Danish international Christina Nimand Hansen celebrated a comeback in the København goal and - quite naturally - was not happy with the clear defeat.
"Just as expected we got under pressure, especially physically, and therefore it was a typical away game in Europe, but there certainly were some things we, including myself, could have done better", she said.
Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN) 36:30 (17:16)
Anna Kochetova and Johanna Ahlm dominated the scoreboard, when 1,500 spectators in the Sport hall “Dinamo” in Volgograd saw Dinamo taking a good step towards the semi-final with a six-goal lead against Team Esbjerg.
Kochetova scored 14 times for the hosts, while Swedish international Ahlm hit the net 11 times for the Danish visitors.
At half-time the game was still even, with the Russian home team being narrowly ahead 7:16, but after the break Dinamo managed to add another five goals to the advantage they take with them to Esbjerg for the second match.
Despite trailing by six goals, Esbjerg have not given up the hope of reaching the semi-final.
"Our keepers will have to do better in the return match, and our defence will have to reach a higher level than it did today, but I still think we have a realistic chance to go on.
"Catching up with six goals is definitely not impossible," Esbjerg coach Lars Frederiksen told the Danish newspaper JydskeVestkysten.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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