DAY REVIEW: Randers HK, Nantes Loire Atlantique HB, Brest Bretagne Handball and NFH-Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub got their second straight victories in the Women’s EHF Cup group phase
Four teams maintain 100% record in EHF Cup Group Phase
Round 2 of the Women’s EHF Cup Group Phase started with six matches on Saturday, with the two Group C games to be played on Sunday.
The French representatives Nantes Loire Atlantique HB and Brest Bretagne Handball recorded their second victories, as did Danish sides Randers HK and NFH-Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub.
Three of the four teams which were knocked out of the Women's EHF Champions League - IK Sävehof, HC Leipzig and Glasswerket - have still yet to win a single point. The other side previously in the top European competition, Rostov-Don, won their opening game and will play at Byasen Trondheim on Sunday.
Randers HK (DEN) vs VfL Oldenburg (GER) 28:24 (13:14)
Randers took another step towards the quarter-final, building on last weekend's surprise win against IK Sävehof by defeating Oldenburg in an exciting home game.
The German visitors missed Kim Birke and Isabelle Jongenelen, both recently injured, as well as Julia Wenzl who is suffering from a long-term injury. Despite arriving with just 11 players in the squad, they fought hard and led 4:2 after five minutes of the match. Randers made a comeback to 9:6, yet it was Oldenburg that won the first half 14:13.
Just after the break Oldenburg extended their lead to 18:14. However, Ryan Zinglersen's team showed great character, as Randers dominated the final quarter of the game and won their second straight game. Oldenburg are yet to take their first points in the group.
IK Sävehof (SWE) vs Nantes Loire Atlantique HB (FRA) 23:36 (9:19)
Despite having played two games away from home, Nantes now have four points and are joint leaders of Group A together with Randers. With Sävehof, the trend is quite the opposite. The Swedish side, which had participated in the Women's EHF Champions League in autumn, have started their EHF Cup campaign with two home defeats.
Nantes’ dominance was obvious from the very beginning. The visitors had a much better shot efficiency and increased their lead minute after minute. The score was 19:9 at half-time, a clear indicator of the French team’s superiority.
Nantes had an excellent 5:0 run in the first five minutes of the second half and, although they were not so dominant in the later stages of the game, had no problems earning a deserved victory.
As many as 12 players scored for the French team in the match, with Pauline Coatanea and Malin Holta top scoring with seven goals each.
Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs Kuban (RUS) 27:21 (14:11)
This clash between two teams which had earned victories in Round 1 proved to be a tight match, especially before the break.
For most of the first half neither side could establish more than a one-goal lead. Both teams were solid in defence, while their attack efficiency left much to be desired.
Yet shortly before the break, Brest seized the initiative and were up 14:11 at half-time. That trend continued well into the second half, and the hosts did not let the initiative slip from their hands.
In a low-scoring game, the top scorers were Brest’s Melinda Anamaria Geiger and Kuban’s Oxana Koroleva, who both found the net five times.
HC Leipzig (GER) vs Alba Fehervar KC (HUN) 21:34 (8:14)
Both of these teams had lost their opening group matches and were eager to improve their position in the table. Yet for the most part, the match in Leipzig was one-way traffic as the visitors from Hungary clearly dominated.
Weakened by numerous injuries, the hosts heavily relied on young players, whose energy helped the team early in the game when Leipzig took a 3:1 lead. But that did not last long – Alba Fehervar quickly seized the initiative and began to score freely.
The Macedonian Elena Gjeorgjievska was especially prolific in the Hungarian team, and she was the top scorer of the match with 10 goals.
It was 14:8 at the break, and hopes of a Leipzig comeback looked slim. In the second half they looked even more demoralised, and went on to suffer their second straight defeat in the competition.
Handball Club Lada (RUS) vs Glassverket (NOR) 32:21 (13:9)
Both teams were looking for redemption following losses in the opening round. Lada took the early initiative and started to systematically build up their advantage.
Daria Dmitrieva, who in the previous week had struggled against NFH-Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub, had learnt her lesson, and was proving to be the main threat on Glassverket’s goal from the first minute. Lada led by five goals 20 minutes into the game (10:5), and were up 13:9 at half time.
Dmitrieva’s efforts were helped by teammates Daria Samokhina and Elizaveta Malashenko, and Lada had an impressive 10:2 run during the first 11 minutes of the second half.
After that scoring run, the game was effectively over. Lada went on to confidently earn their first points at the group phase, while Glassverket still have no points. Given their problems in attack, the Norwegian team will have a hard time qualifying for the EHF Cup Quarter-Finals.
TuS Metzingen (GER) vs NFH-Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub (DEN) 29:34 (18:17)
The encounter of the two Group D leaders promised some exciting and high-quality handball and lived up to those expectations, becoming arguably the most thrilling EHF Cup game of the day.
Throughout the first half, Metzingen were constantly in the lead – mostly thanks to Anna Loerper who scored 10 of her 11 goals before the break. The hosts’ advantage reached six goals (11:5) midway through the half.
It took time for NFH to find their game, but finally the Danish side improved and were down by just one goal at the break.
Early in the second half, the visitors had a good 4:1 run and went in front 21:19. Metzingen quickly drew level, and after that the game was very close for a long time.
Yet NFH had the upper hand in the last quarter of the game. Nathalie Hagman and Mette Gravholt, scoring six times each, led by example. The Danish team went 29:26 in front in the 51st minute, and went on to clinch their second consecutive group victory.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ap
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