Budućnost among Top 4Article
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Clear home victories on Sunday, Oltchim say farewell to semi-final dreams.
 

Budućnost among Top 4

 

Group 1

Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) - Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) 32:21 (16:9)

A superb first half from the home side quickly decided the fourth semi-final participant, as Budućnost crushed Oltchim Vâlcea to join Audi ETO, Larvik (Group 2) and Itxako (Group 1) in the Top 4.

The Romanians now need to analyze in great detail what went so horribly wrong for them since last season’s final, as this year, they’ve disappointedly bid farewell to the EHF Champions League after the Main Round.

The stake was clear from the beginning: qualification for the semi-final.

The Romanian champion Vâlcea, backed by 200 fans, had experienced an eventful week, as after losing against Itxako, they fired coach Anja Andersen and a few days later the management reactivated National Team coach Radu Voina.

Even with Voina on board, they surprisingly dropped a point in their domestic championship, so the outlook wasn’t too bright prior to the match in Montenegro.

In a full Morača Sports Centre in Podgorica both teams were on level terms at the beginning, but once Budućnost had warmed up there was no question about the stronger side in the match. Dragan Adžić’s team punished every mistake from their counterpart and quickly established a 5-goal lead.

Neither Oltchim’s attack, nor their defence, worked well, so the enthusiastic Montenegrin players used every opportunity to score and goalkeeper Sanela Knezović was superior in the home goal.

Adžić’s team used a very aggressive defence and their back court players Katarina Bulatović, Bojana Popović and Marija Jovanović had a fantastic day, together scoring 19 times.

Stopping the opponent’s quality shooters would have been the key for an Oltchim success, but their defence wasn’t able to stop them. The Romanian attacks were also not effective enough, as in the last 7 minutes of the first half, Yeliz Özel and her team-mates didn’t score a single goal.

The second half didn’t show any significant changes for the Romanian side, even though Voina’s team made great efforts to turn the game and close the gap.

Budućnost remained mentally strong, and backed by their enthusiastic fans, each new Montenegrin goal meant less chance for Oltchim to come closer.

Popović and Co. celebrated an easy victory and with this win, Budućnost progressed to the Top 4. In their home game next weekend against Spanish Itxako they will battle it out for first place in the group.

 

Group 2

Audi ETO Győr (HUN) - Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) 36:23 (18:13)

During the week, Dinamo Volgograd won the first phase of the Russian championship, and as Victor Ryabykh’s team is already out of the EHF Champions League, the away side started without pressure, played freely, and produced a good game.

Both Anna Kochetova and Olga Levina returned from illness and at the beginning of the game the Russians brought a quality performance to the back line, producing some wonderful shots. Audi ETO’s defence didn’t stand as well as in previous matches, and as Győr’s wing players seemed to be having a bad day, the two teams played a head-to-head game in the first phase.

Anna Kochetova underlined her quality, scoring on breakthroughs and long distance shots, surprising Audi ETO’s defence and goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen in the process.

With a strengthened defence, mainly thanks to Eduarda Amorim and Aurelia Bradeanu, and with the backing of their loudly cheering fans, the Hungarians woke up and selected top gear.

Quick attacks and skillful executions followed and Simona Spiridon produced a top-quality game on the line. She and Brazilian international Eduarda Amorim were unstoppable in attack.

In a great atmosphere in the Magvassy Arena and Győr remaining in top gear, the Hungarian fiesta continued, as replacement goalkeeper Katalin Pálinger shut the gate by producing heroics between the sticks.

Volgograd’s playmaker, Anna Kochetova, began to show tiredness and several errors occurred in her game. Without her full leadership qualities, Ryabykh’s team seemed to lack ideas.

Even with their reserve players in action, the home side continued to play at a high level and with a clear home lead, Dinamo coach Ryabykh, decided to rest his first line-up.

Despite early defensive problems, Győr dominated physically and mentally, and everything was effectively decided after 50 minutes, enabling the Hungarians to celebrate their tenth victory in the series.

In Group 2, Győri Audi ETO are now two points ahead of Larvik, so next weekend, their direct duel will decide the number one position.


TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
 
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