Lada: one step closerArticle
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With a 30-27 Lada victory over Valcea, the Russians are closer to reach the semi-finals.

Lada: one step closer

A brilliant Maria Sidorova helped Lada Togliatti leapfrog Valcea on second place in Main Round Group 1. Togliatti’s goalkeeper made an impressive 19 saves against the Romanians and led her team to victory, 30-27.

The young Nikitina was among the stars of LadaIt was a game of “all or nothing” for the 2007 EHF Champions League runner-up. This season, Lada started the Main Round with 2 defeats against Győr and Valcea. At that point the semi-finals seemed to be only a dream for the Russians. Still, a success in Nurnberg gave Gumyanov’s girls new hopes. Lada knew that they should win the game against Valcea in Togliatti and finally did that.

Lada and Valcea were close in the first 23 minutes of the game. Togliatti started better, but Valcea took a 2-goal lead for the first time – thanks to some fantastic shots from right back Luca and pivot Stanca.

Gumyanov responded with new tactics: he put Nikitina in the centre back position instead of Gruzdeva and everything changed in Lada’s favour: 2-goal lead after 30 minutes, 16-14.

Togliatti started the second half in the same manner: 3 consecutive goals forced Valcea to run after the Russians all the time. With 15 minutes to go, Valcea managed to reduce the gap to 22-20. It was the moment when Aleksey Gumyanov pulled another rabbit from his hat: he replaced Nikitina with Gruzdeva and the Russian centre back gave her team a new push. Gruzdeva stunned Valcea’s defence with a perfect 100% record - 4 goals out of 4 shots.

Although Oltchim Valcea tried their best in the last minutes of the game, Togliatti were untouchable: Lada Togliatti vs Oltchim Valcea 30-27. With this victory, the semi-final is within reach for Togliatti. The Russians are second in the group, one point ahead of Valcea and they depend only on themselves to qualify for the second season in a row.

Nikitina with 6 goals and Mochalina with 5 were the best scorers of Togliatti. Stanca with 8 was the best player of Valcea.

TEXT: Emilian Voicu