QUARTER-FINAL REVIEW: Rostov comfortably won in Brest, while Metzingen beat Nantes in the first leg of the Women’s EHF Cup Quarter-final
Rostov take step towards semi-final
The quarter-final stage of the Women’s EHF Cup began with the two exciting games on Saturday.
Rostov-Don, considered by many to be the favourites of the tournament, took a great step towards the semi-final by beating Brest in France.
Another French club, Nantes, were also defeated, yet their four-goal loss at Metzingen leaves the outcome of the duel open before the second leg.
Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS) 21:26 (11:13)
Brest were unlucky in the quarter-final draw as Rostov are widely considered the favourite of the EHF Cup. The French side’s coach Laurent Bezeau said before the game that he had no illusions about the return leg in Russia, so the goal was to have the best possible performance at home.
Yet from the opening minutes, Brest struggled against the solid Rostov defense, and the Russian side were up 5:2 in the 8th minute.
Rostov’s attacks lacked efficiency as well, and Cleopatre Darleux did well in Brest’s goal. Throughout the first half, the French team tried hard to draw level- and finally did so in the 28th minute at 11:11.
However, Anna Vyakhireva and Yulia Managarova then scored two unanswered goals, allowing the visitors to lead at half-time.
Allison Pineau scored six of eleven Brest’s goals before the break, but could not add any more after it. Still thanks to her teammates Melinda Geiger, Marion Limal and others the hosts enjoyed a good start in the second half, equalizing at 14:14 by the 54th minute.
But then Rostov had an excellent 9:1 run in the next 14 minutes, when their defense, and Katrine Lunde in the goal, were just superb, allowing the visitors to score from fast breaks.
Amazingly, things completely turned around after that- Rostov were unable to score for the following eight minutes, so Brest reduced the gap from 23:15 to 23:19.
Yet, it was too late, and Rostov, who have a French coach Frederic Bougeant, went on to celebrate a five-goal away victory which leaves little chance for Brest in the second leg.
Bougeant was delighted with the result but did not want to rule Brest out: "We know that Brest is a team that hardly ever loses at home so we were expecting a tough match. We had a complicated first half because we played a big game on Wednesday against Kuban. In the second half, more stability was found in central defence and more play was developed in the open spaces. But don’t count on me to imagine that we are already qualified for the semi-finals. We will prepare the second game seriously."
TuS Metzingen (GER) vs Nantes Loire Atlantique HB (FRA) 27:23 (16:12)
In the EHF Cup group stage, Metzingen failed to live up to expectations at home, earning just two points in home encounters. However, on Saturday they showed a pretty solid performance and claimed a four goal victory against their French opponents.
The opening minutes featured a very tight game where no team could take a more than one-goal lead. Only after the 17th minute, Metzingen seized the initiative and took the score from 8:8 to 11:8, and they more or less retained this advantage until the break, leading 16:12 at half time.
Anna Loerper, who was Metzingen’s top scorer in the group phase, was prolific again, and her impact helped the hosts to pull clear early in the second half– 21:14 by the 37th minute.
Yet Nantes, who suffered just one defeat in the group phase, were not going to surrender. They considerably improved their defensive game and reduced the gap to 24:21 by the 53th minute.
The situation did not change much in the remaining minutes, so while Metzingen are happy with a four-goal victory, Nantes have certainly not lost their hopes for a semi-final berth.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/kc
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