Lokomotiva earn a draw against Kastamonu
HC Lokomotiva Zagreb fulfilled their dream and earned their first point of the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 season after drawing 26:26 against Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK on Sunday afternoon.
Nenad Sostaric's players produced their best performance of the season and came back in the final moments of the match to prevent the Turkish side from celebrating their second win in the competition.
HC Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO) vs Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK (TUR) 26:26 (12:14)
- Lokomotiva looked good in the opening minutes, especially in defence, as they pushed their opponents into mistakes and led 4:1
- Mouna Chebbah stepped up her game and scored three consecutive goals for Kastamonu to give them a one-goal lead, 8:7, in the 18th minute
- the away team's biggest lead in the match was three goals, which they held three times during the first half
- Klara Birtic and Lena Ivancok stood out midway through second half for Lokomotiva, who were back in front in the 45th minute after a 3:0 run
- in an exciting finish, it looked like Kastamonu's Merve Durdu had decided the game with two saves three minutes before the end, but Lena Ivancok replied with a crucial save for Lokomotiva before Lara Buric scored an important equaliser
Historic moment for Lokomotiva
Lokomotiva Zagreb, who are playing in their second season in the EHF Champions League Women, have not won in 16 matches in Europe's top-flight competition. Before Sunday's match against Kastamonu, Nenad Sostaric's team only had two draws against IK Sävehof in the 2014/15 season.
This season's youngest team, with an average age of 21.7 years, could only dream about taking their first point – but they finally fulfilled it against Kastamonu. Lokomotiva produced their best performance this season, both offensively and defensively, and with an amazing performance from Klara Birtic, who scored seven times on Sunday afternoon, 'Lokosice' celebrated earning a draw and their first point this season.
This was a historic point for us in the EHF Champions League. When Kastamonu managed to defeat us in our premier encounter of the season in Turkey, those were their first two points ever in EHF Champions League – and now we managed to secure our first point (this season) and I'm really happy about it. There were once again a lot of ups and downs in our game, but we pulled it off. The most important thing was making my players believe they can actually do it.
I have to say I know how much this point means for Croatian handball and that's the only thing that makes me happy at the moment. We've displayed a really poor performance here today and we were lucky not to lose the game in the end. We have to keep on putting in work and focus on getting better.