Group winners: Győr and BudućnostArticle
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Larvik took revenge on Győri Audi ETO, while Budućnost impressed against Itxako

»EHF CL Channel »2010-11 Women's News

Group winners: Győr and Budućnost

After a high-class game in Hungary, Larvik defeated Győri Audi ETO, but the direct encounter allowed the Hungarians to finish as first in their group. In the other clash, Budućnost celebrated an 8-goal victory over Itxako, and with this victory, they won their respective group.

The semi-final pairings of the EHF Women’s Champions League are as follows:

Itxako Reyno De Navarra (ESP) vs. Audi ETO Győr (HUN)

Larvik HK (NOR) vs. Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)

First legs to be played in Estella and Larvik on the weekend of 9/10 April 2011, while the return legs will be played a week later, on 16/17 April 2011.

Group 1

Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) vs. Itxako Reyno De Navarra (ESP) 30:22 (15:13)

What didn’t happen in Győr, happened in Podgorica, as Budućnost, before the match two points behind the leader, won by 8 goals against Itxako, meaning that the Montengrins overtook the Spaniards in Group 1 to finish first.

For Itxako it was the second defeat in the Main Round and it left a bad taste for their fans. However, the Spanish champions have already progressed to the Top 4, achieving the biggest success in the club’s history.

The spectacular Morača Sports Center, with its full house, gave a big push to the home side, as Budućnost entered the game in a very confident manner. In the opening minutes, they established a clear 3-4 goals lead meaning a good starting base for Dragan Adžić’s team to reach first position in the group.

Misfortune turned Ambros Martín´s team’s shots onto the woodwork, however, the mental strength of Itxako’s players has been demonstrated many times since the team has become such a formidable club in the competition.

The Spaniards closed the gap from minute to minute and during the final minutes of the first half, even reached a tie, as Martín’s rotations meant a significant change for Itxako’s attacking performance.

Budućnost were able to return to the dynamic at the beginning of the second half and re-established the five-goal lead.

The game became somewhat stable in Podgorica in the second period, as neither team was giving its best, and technical errors occurred on both sides. And yet it was still enough for Budućnost to retain the advantage that placed them first in the group.

It was clear that the dying minutes would decide the outcome of the final ranking as it was known that Győr had lost to Larvik, but finished as first in their respective group.

Mistakes in handball are costly and will usually be punished in the decisive phase of the game. This time it was Itxako’s turn to bite the bullet.

The victory was clearly that of Budućnost, but the fight was a different story. Itxako wanted to lose by five goals as maximum, but the home team endured the pressure better in the final minutes to celebrate an 8-goal victory, and first place in the group.

Group 2

Audi ETO Győr (HUN) vs. Larvik HK (NOR) 18:24 (9:12)

In a highly tense, top-class game, Larvik exacted revenge for their 'shock' home defeat, but the difference in today’s match still wasn’t enough for the Norwegians to finish first in the group. After finishing on equal points, Győr won the group thanks to goal difference in direct encounters, and will have home advantage rights in the return leg of the semi-final against the team of Itxako.

In a sold out hall in Győr, two world-class teams, with superstars at every position, including the bench, met to battle it out for number one position in the group.

It was a tough game from the early minutes onwards, as great handball, seemingly from another planet, was presented by these two top teams.

The home supporters created an amazing atmosphere hours before the match. They fully expected Csaba Konkoly’s team to make a good start and repeat their earlier magnificent performance in Norway.

However, it was Larvik who delivered the dream start in the Magvassy Mihály Arena, as the self-confident Norwegians quickly established a 4:0 lead. In their goal it was perhaps surprisingly Lene Rantala, instead of Cecilie Leganger, but the Danish international displayed some real heroics between the sticks.

In the early minutes the Hungarians had massive problems against the fast-moving Norwegians, and Eduarda Amorim and her team-mates unluckily hit the woodwork several times.

Backed by their fanatical supporters, Győr found a way back into the game, showing more stable defensive play and had the better luck with finishing their attacks. Soon the score was level again and the two teams started from scratch.

The away side started to find top gear, punishing every technical error of their Hungarian opponent, which usually resulted in fast counter attacks, the strongest weapon of Tor Odvar Moen’s team. Larvik led by 3 goals, prompting Csaba Konkoly to tender his green card for a time out.

The tense game continued at a high pace and Larvik remained focused, scoring again through quick counter play by Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth and Heidi Løke. At Audi ETO, Katrine Lunde Haraldsen was the key figure for keeping her side in game.

Pushed by their frenetic fans, Győri Audi ETO changed their attacking game plan and the team’s back court players assisted wing players Katarina Mravikova and Orsolya Vérten, enabling the home side to close the gap at half-time.

The Norwegians continued their aggressive and focused defence and again punished every Győr mistake with fast goals on counter attacks.

Anita Görbicz wasn’t able to reproduce her high quality performance of a few weeks before, so coach Csaba Konkoly brought in young Anikó Kovacsics to refresh his team.

Despite this, the Hungarians lacked attacking ideas and were stopped by the hard-defending central line of Gro Hammerseng and Tonje Larsen.

The tactical change didn’t mean any positive effect for Győr´s team, as they missed some clear chances and on the opposite side, Lene Rantala saved several 7-metre attempts. After 40 minutes Larvik led by 7 goals and were only 2 goals from finishing as first in the group.

Győr’s team mustered their last reserves of energy to close the gap and for a few minutes it looked like Aurelia Bradeanu and Co. could come even closer. After a little fluctuation, however, the Norwegians got back on track and maintained their lead.

Audi ETO’s back players continued to be dogged by bad luck, with several shots hitting the woodwork. Meanwhile, Larvik kept scoring bravely through fast breaks, which enabled the Norwegians to celebrate a well-deserved 6-goal victory.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs