Thüringer HC advance despite draw against Valcea
On the first day of reverse fixtures of the EHF European League Women 2022/23 group phase, three losing sides gained at least some revenge.
Asma Elghaoui produced her best performance to help SCM Ramnicu Valcea snatch a point from Thüringer HC, but the result was still enough for the German side to claim an early quarter-final spot.
Roxanne Frank's 46.15 per cent save efficiency lifted Paris 92 past Praktiker-Vác, avenging the French side's last-gasp defeat in the first match two weeks ago. In the last match on Saturday, Sola HC suffered their first defeat this season – 25:21 against DVSC Schaeffler – and failed to book an early quarter-final ticket.
Schaeffler handed Sola their first-ever group phase defeat, which prevented the Norwegian side from securing a quarter-final spot after four rounds for the second straight year. The Hungarian club got off to a good start with a 4:1 lead after five minutes and made Sola work hard for an equaliser. Despite another strong performance from Rinka Duijndam – who had a 40 per cent save efficiency at half-time – between the posts, Sola could not shift the momentum and even trailed by four goals, 10:6. However, a 3:0 run near the end of the first half buoyed the Norwegian team, but it did not have a long effect.
Their opponents were boosted by the fans chanting in the stands as they went to a 20:16 lead, courtesy of Konszuéla Hámori, making Sola sweat in attack. Strong defences and a high pace marked the last five minutes of the game. Althoguh Sola tried their best to narrow the gap, they could not get past Schaeffler's defence, especially goalkeeper Catherine Gabriel, who stopped two attacks in the final moments and ended any hope of a comeback.
It was a good match for me, but it was more important that we could beat this very strong opponent. There were some mistakes in our play, but we won the match and that is the most important thing now.
I am very happy with this point. It could have been two points, but I think we should be happy with this game. We fought back, we came back in the game and I had to look deep in my toolbox to search for some recipes, because of our injured players. But it was amazing how my players fought for each other, the public and the club.
An injury-depleted Thüringer HC secured an early quarter-final ticket after drawing with Ramnicu Valcea – and the German side kept the leading position in the group. After an almost equal start, the home team took a slender advantage (9:7) with the help of Iryna Glibko, one of the competition's top scorers. THC caught up near the end of the first half with a 4:0 run and snatched a narrow lead at half-time after yet another great goal by Anika Lott.
The second half can be best described as a Romanian comeback. The German side enjoyed another four-goal run to lead 22:17, but failed to keep the same pace. Daciana Hosu's saves and Asma Elgahaoui's outstanding performance with clever steals and easy goals brought the hosts level. In an interesting finish, where both sides had at least a one-goal advantage, Nathalie Hendrikse secured a draw for THC.
Paris 92 turned the match around against Praktiker-Vác in the last five minutes to avenge a 27:26 defeat from the previous round. Praktiker-Vác were in front for almost 55 minutes thanks to yet another stellar performance by the competition's top scorer Csenge Kuczora. The Hungarian centre back netted nine times, taking her tally to 36 goals after four matches in the group phase.
Vác kept the four-goal lead that they took in the middle of the first half until the 42nd minute. But Roxanne Frank's attractive saves helped her team to grab an equaliser (19:19) and give new momentum to the game as a minimum lead went from one side to another. At 24:24 with four minutes to go, Frank stopped three more consecutive attacks and helped Gnonsiane Niombla and Deborah Lassource to set the final score.
Credits for the photos in this article: P&N / Peter Kovacs (DVSC Schaeffler) and ImagePlus (SCM Ramnicu Valcea)
A big thank you to our fans who helped us to come back into the game when it was hard. I'm really glad to win this game and that we are still alive in this competition.