DAY REVIEW: A victory against ERD HC allowed SG BBM Bietigheim to take the second place in Group C and progress to the next round.
Bietigheim grab the last quarter-final berth
Seven teams had secured their spots in the Women’s EHF quarter-final prior to the last game day, with the only vacancy remaining in Group C.
But following the 28:25 over ERD, Bietigheim finished in the second place and joined Nantes, Randers, Kuban, Brest, Rostov-Don, NFH and Metzingen in the top-8 of the competition.
Nantes needed a victory to stay top of the Group A and the French side reached their goal. However, now their advantage over the third-placed Sävehof was not so evident as in Round 2, when Nantes won 36:23 in Partille.
The Swedish team led early in the game, but then lost the goalkeeper Johanna Bundsen due to injury. The hosts fought back and were up by three goals at half-time.
Nantes dominated throughout the second half too; yet Sävehof drew level at 30:30 a few minutes before full-time. However, the hosts played better in defence and finally clinched the victory.
VfL Oldenburg (GER) vs Randers HK (DEN) 24:25 (13:10)
Following Nantes’ victory, Randers were set to finish in the second place, while the last-placed Oldenburg had no chance to climb up from the bottom. Although the match played no role in terms of final standings, both sides were eager to finish the group phase on a good note.
Just like in the previous match, which they won in Nantes, Oldenburg proved to be a competitive team who can fight any opponent. The team coached by Leszek Krowicki seemed to be on the way to their second straight victory as they were in front 13:10 at half-time.
However, Randers did not agree with that scenario and the visitors fought back. Nothing was clear until the final seconds in this exciting game, as the teams were level on 24:24 before the visitors scored the winning goal.
Having lost all chances to qualify for the next stage, both Fehervar and Leipzig wanted to leave with their heads held high. In a tight battle, the hosts tipped the scales in their favour, leaving Leipzig without any points whatsoever in the group phase.
The German side, still without a number of injured players, desperately wanted to end their losing streak. They definitely had their chance in the back-and-forth game and the score was 27:27 with just 20 seconds left in the game.
Leipzig’s dreams were destroyed, as Claudine Mendy put Fehervar in front and then Jelena Lavko sealed the final score 29:27 with two seconds left.
Kuban (RUS) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) 25:20 (17:8)
Before the last round of games, Brest remained the only unbeaten team in the whole tournament; yet, this positive run came to an end in Krasnodar.
Both sides had secured their quarter-final spots before the game, so the only question was which team were to finish first in Group B. Kuban needed only a win to reach this goal and Evgeni Trefilov’s team claimed their fifth victory in the group.
Thanks to their solid defence, the hosts dominated throughout the whole game and were in front by nine goals at half-time. Brest improved after the break and fought back to 22:20 by the 53th minute, but Kuban were committed to keep the victory in hands and finally won.
It was like a final match for both teams – both of them needed a victory to advance from the group and a draw would give an advantage to ERD, who had beaten Bietigheim in their reverse fixture in Round 2.
The hosts seized the initiative following the tight battle in the opening minutes and they were in front by five goals at the interval.
Led by Susann Müller who finished the match with nine goals, Bietigheim established a seven-goal lead in the second half (23:16), but ERD reduced the gap to 24:22.
However, the Hungarian outfit were unable to completely turn the game around, so they are eliminated from the EHF Cup, while Bietigheim take the second place in Group C behind Rostov-Don.
Lada’s defeat against Glassverket on Saturday was great news for both NFH and Metzingen, who secured their places in the top-8 even before their clash on the next day.
The match was just supposed to determine which side were to finish first in the group and a draw was enough for NFH, who had beaten Metzingen away in Germany (34:29) in January.
With five minutes to go, the hosts were down 36:33, yet they had a good run in the remaining time and Emelie Westberg drew level in the last minute.
It was an open and entertaining game, with both teams felt liberated and attacked better than defended. The result tied the highest scoring statistic for one game in the current group phase at 72 goals combined, holding together with a 39:33 result in a Bietigheim vs Byasen match in Group C.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/tm
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