Larvik close to the semis, Budućnost win awayArticle
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Larvik dominated against Dinamo in Russia, while Krim lost their important home match against Budućnost.

Larvik close to the semis, Budućnost win away

Group 1

RK Krim Ljubljana (SLO) vs. Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) 36:40 (19:23)

The home win sequence in Group 1 has been stopped in the opener of Round 4, as Montenegrin Budućnost defeated Krim in a goal-rich clash in Slovenia. They are now in a good position for clinching a semi-final spot before their two final games on home soil.

Both teams seemed to forget one important part of the game play: namely, defence. The tactical aim for today’s match was to score one more goal than the opponent and with it, win the game.

Krim coach Marta Bon decided on an open 4:2 and 3:2:1 defence from the start, man-marking Budućnost’s potent weapons, Bojana Popović and Katarina Bulatović.

Bon’s plan, however, turned out to be unsuccessful, as the opponent easily scored from the backline and also found massive holes in the Krim wall. This meant that the away team got the better start and went into a 3-goal lead that Popović and Co. were able to keep until the half-time break.

Budućnost’s defence didn’t work to a high level either. The goalkeepers saved with a low efficiency and the defending was of a poor standard in front of them.

As both teams were continuously unstable on the 6 meter line, a massive amount of fast attacks and quick goals followed. In total, 124 attacks were initiated by the teams during the 60 minutes.

Bon didn’t appear to have a suitable recipe for stopping the attacks of the opponent. Some of her tactical decisions were rather strange, which led to Adžić’s team increasing the lead to 5 goals.

Only in the second half could Bon’s players enjoy a good phase, when, thanks to well-worked combinations between playmaker Andrea Lekić and pivot Liudmila Bodnieva, a 4:0 series enabled Krim to close the gap to one goal. At this score it seemed to be a slight chance of turning the game.

Budućnost reacted quickly, though. They remained calm, and backed by their half-naked, enthusiastic Varvari supporters, Popović and her team-mates increased the lead to 3 goals, and maintained control until the final whistle. Adžić’s team celebrated a 40:36 victory to break the home win series in the group.

With this loss, Krim’s chances in the race for a semi-final spot have been severely dented, while Budućnost will have the advantage of two home games in the final rounds.

Group 2

Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) vs. Larvik HK (NOR) 23:32 (11:16)

Larvik crushed the under-strength Dinamo in Russia, and if Leipzig drop a point tomorrow against Audi ETO, then the Norwegians, just like their Hungarian counterpart, will be in the semi-finals of this year’s EHF Champions League campaign.

The two-week break clearly helped the Norwegian side to recover after the serious home defeat against CL title contender Győri Audi ETO.

Gro Hammerseng returned to the court after illness, and with her leadership, Tor Odvar Moen’s team didn’t have any problems in beating Dinamo Volgograd, who were missing several key players due to flu.

"We had a great preparation for this match and it was important that we believed in ourselves," said playmaker Hammerseng.

On the Russian side, neither Anna Kochetova nor Olga Levina were ready for the game, so it was clear from the opening minutes that Dinamo wouldn’t be able to perform with their usual home strength.

Coach Victor Ryabykh had to mix up his team, which allowed some of his young players an opportunity to showcase themselves.

The young replacements were, however, not on the same level as the Larvik players who were burning for success today, and determined to eradicate the sort of mistakes they made in the last round.

Larvik’s gifted Linn Jørum Sulland became the match winner, as she clinically executed her side’s penalties and was also unstoppable on the back court.

The 26-year-old right back scored 12 times in the game and with line player Heidi Løke, she became the top scorer for Larvik.

Without Kochetova and Levina not much worked on the Russian attacking side. The back court lacked ideas and creativeness, and shots were executed quickly and without much thought.

Marina Lambevska wasn’t able to reproduce her top performance from the league game against Zvezda, so it was only young Ksenia Milova who tried to keep pace with the Norwegians.

The 18-year-old scored some nice goals, but that alone wasn’t enough to stop a Larvik team that didn’t need top gear to win this important duel in the semi-final race.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs