Great surprises in Round 3Article
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Itxako and Győr with convincing victories in the EHF Champions League.

»EHF CL Channel »2010-11 Women's News

Great surprises in Round 3


Group 1

Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. RK Krim Ljubljana (SLO) 31:27 (14:14)

Despite a mediocre performance Oltchim dominated their third round game against Slovenian Krim and collected two important points in the race for a semi-final spot.

Vâlcea’s coach Anja Andersen shuffled her cards again. Besides leaving out injured Cristina Neagu and Adina Fiera, she named three left-handed back-court players in the squad and started the game with the Ukrainian left-back Anastasiya Pidpalova. The latter became the hero of the match as she performed remarkably in attack by scoring 7 times.

The home team quickly went into the lead, despite rusty defences on both sides, mainly due to goalkeepers Tereza Pislaru and Talida Tolnai who saved well in the Oltchim goal.

On the Krim side, the defence didn’t play too well and there were several errors in attack too, as Lekić and her team-mates forced a fast game plan which didn’t really work against the battling Romanians.

Tactician Andersen had to use several options in defence (6:0, 5:1, 4:2) and even though the first systems didn´t work well in the beginning, the changes caused many headaches for the Krim attackers.

Thanks to top-scorer Andrea Penezić, with 10 goals in the game, the Slovenians edged as close as one goal in the second half, but when Patricia Vizitiu entered the court, the Romanian number one got fresh wind and built a lead that their players could not only maintain, but increase, for the final phase of the match.

A well deserved victory was the fruit of the hard work for Oltchim, whilst for Krim, only goalkeeper Jelena Grubisić and Andrea Penezić were outstanding. Marta Bon’s team will be under great pressure when they welcome Budućnost in the fourth round of the EHF Champions League in early March.

Statements after the match:

Anja Andersen, coach of Oltchim: "Our skills are growing, and we grew in speed. The physical training we did in the last period paid-off today. The time we spent together improved the morale of the team. There are a lot of things that we still need to fix and the first big changes will come after three months. Today we won an important game. I’m not thinking of the game with Ljubljana, but of the next game, with Itxako."

Anastasiya Pidpalova, player of Oltchim: "We were 23, and they were just 14. Each player of Oltchim contributed to this success. Us, the ones that played, the girls on the bench, and those in the stands. The game was tight, because we were nervous. I was also nervous but I overcame my fear. If we go on like this and act calmly in every game, and if we understand each other better, no one can defeat us."

Itxako Reyno De Navarra (ESP) vs. Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) 31:26 (16:10)

With this Spanish win, the home victory sequence in Group 1 continued, meaning that everything remains totally open and equal among the four teams.

Neither of the teams fielded their strongest line-up, as both clubs missed several players due to injury.

Itxako had analyzed their opponent very well on video and coach Ambros Martín went for an open defence featuring Raphaëlle Tervel and Alexandrina Barbosa, which caused massive problems for the Montenegrin attacks.

The Spaniards looked very stable during the first half, aided by an excellent open defence and with Silvia Navarro performing superbly in goal.

Dragan Adžić’s team wasn’t able to find an effective answer to the strong defending Itxako and with Tervel’s injury in the dying seconds of the first half, Martín switched to a 5:1 defence with the quick Barbosa. This also worked well and Itxako were able to keep, and then increase, the 6-goal lead from half-time.

Small attacking errors from the home side, and Budućnost going all-out, allowed the away team to edge a few goals closer, but a clear home victory was never in doubt.

With Itxako’s victory, the next round will look very interesting, as the two teams with four points (Oltchim and Itxako) will meet each other, whilst the two teams with one victory (Budućnost and Krim) will go for the 'Battle of Death' in the race for a semi-final spot.

Group 2

Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) vs. HC Leipzig (GER) 25:22 (12:7)

As both teams were without points before the opener of Round 3, it was clear that the loser’s chances of a semi-final place would become almost non-existent.

Leipzig arrived in Russia following two great matches against Larvik and Audi ETO, both of which they lost, whilst Dinamo were humilitated by 21 goals in Larvik last weekend, so they needed an improved performance to compete with their German counterpart.

Both key players of Dinamo, Anna Sedoykina and Olga Levina, returned to the starting line-up and Victor Ryabykh’s team showed a strong, confident performance from the early minutes onwards.

Despite good defence and another great performance from goalkeeper Katja Schülke, the away team of Leipzig had several errors creep into their game and the physically-strong Russians took full advantage of them to establish a good lead at half-time.

Their dominance continued in the second half as Leipzig’s attack struggled, with only Polish international Karolina Kudlacz being able to repeat her form from the first two rounds.

Her team-mates of the back-court all had a poor day and weren’t able to contribute much to the attacks, so the final result showed a first, and well-deserved, Dinamo victory in the Main Round: "At this level, it’s not enough to have a good defence and play well for only 30 minutes in attack," commented Leipzig’s coach Heine Jensen.

’’We have to continue working hard and minimalize our attacking errors. If we succeed with this, we’ll still collect some points in this year´s EHF CL campaign," he added.

The Russian side was pleased with the victory, both injured players Sedoykina and Levina celebrated a nice comeback, and Dinamo’s key figure, Anna Kochetova, was the top-scorer for her side with 9 goals.

Now, Leipzig’s players will get several days off, whilst Levina and Co. will continue playing games in a tough schedule. They’ll firstly host Rostov Don and then play away against Lada Togliatti in the Russian Handball League in the following week before hosting Larvik in the fourth round of the EHF Champions League.

Larvik HK (NOR) vs. Audi ETO Győr (HUN) 16:25 (7:17)

A tactically well-prepared and superior Győri Audi ETO surprised Larvik in an away duel, defeating the Norwegians in an impressive manner by 9 goals.

Larvik lost their first ever game in their new Arena and it was their first loss in two years on home soil in the EHF Champions League.

The home team was without playmaker Gro Hammerseng due to flu, and although several Audi ETO players carried small injuries, all of them could enter the court.

The Hungarians started with a superb defence, and quickly established a 5-goal lead. Larvik had no answer to the onslaught, but needed to react immediately, so coach Tor Odvar Moen called for an early time out in the 11th minute.

Tonje Larsen and Tine Rustad Kristiansen tried to replace Hammerseng at the playmaker position but not much worked in the Larvik attacks.

As Győr defended very well, their goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen was superb between the sticks, saving with a 56% percentage in the game, and with 80% in the first quarter of the match.

After Larvik’s magnificent performance against Dinamo last weekend, Riegelhuth and her team-mates struggled, scoring only three times in the first 22 minutes, by which time Győr were already leading by an incredible 10-goal difference.

Coach Moen replaced goalkeeper Cecilie Leganger with Lene Rantala, but this change had no influence on the successful attacks of their counterpart.

"I need to praise my players for their magnificent performance. We did very well in the first half, those 30 minutes were our best in this season. When we scored our third goal in the second half I felt confident that we’d bring the two points home," said Győri Audi ETO coach Csaba Konkoly.

Without Hammerseng, Larvik had massive problems in attack, and within 18 minutes of the first half, the home team, that had scored 41 goals against Dinamo just a week before, could only score once.

The EHF CL top-scorer Heidi Løke was marked well by the Hungarian players, and she scored her first goal, from a fast-break, in the 24th minute, and scored only twice from line play in the attack: "We are disappointed to lose by such big margin. Győr were superior, especially in defence. I have to admit that they’ve a brilliant team," commented the disappointed Larvik line player.

Audi ETO were leading after the first half by 10 goals, but the Norwegian side fought back, and with an aggressive defence they edged closer, as the Hungarians scored only twice between the 30th and 45th minutes. With two important goals from Aurelia Bradeanu, Konkoly’s team maintained the lead and went on to celebrate a clear victory.

Győr’s Brazilian back player Eduarda Amorim highlighted her team’s top defence as the key factor for the win: "I’m extremely happy about the victory, we fought as a team and a real unit, and that was the key to the success."

With this important victory, Audi ETO made an important step towards first place in the group, whilst Larvik will need to improve both their defence and attacking during the upcoming break before they head to Volgograd for the fourth round.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs