Larvik against Itxako ends as drawArticle
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One-sided victories for Győr, Oltchim and Budućnost in Round 2 of the Main Round in the EHF Champions League.

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Larvik against Itxako ends as draw

Round 2 of the Main Round presented last year´s re-match of the EHF Champions League final, where in an exciting clash, Larvik and Itxako tied.

In the group´s other duel, Győri Audi ETO celebrated an eight-goal home victory over FC Midtjylland and is the only team with maximum points in Group 1, whilst FCM hope for their first point(s) in the upcoming round(s).

In Group 2 Oltchim continued their domination, having no problem in defeating the French champions of Metz, whilst Budućnost, despite a poor first half, also remain on maximum points after their success over Krim.

Both Krim and Metz are without points in the Main Round so far, and next weekend they will battle to see which of them will have the better chances in the race for a semi-final spot.


Győri Audi ETO (HUN) vs. FC Midtjylland (DEN) 35:27 (17:13)

Despite a game remaining on eye level for 20 minutes, thanks to their confidence and individual strengths, Győri Audi ETO celebrated their second group victory against a strongly fighting Danish side that remains without points after two rounds.

Both teams presented high-paced handball with speedy attacks. FC Midtjylland employed their fast wing players Trine Jensen and Gitte Brogger Led for quick counter attacks, whilst the Hungarians used the individual skills of their players.

Surprisingly, the Danes put up a brave fight against the more favoured Győri Audi ETO, and led by Trine Troelsen, and thanks to goals by their speedy wingers, the scoreboard showed an equal result after 20 minutes.

Coach Karl Erik Bøhn´s team used an amazingly fast tempo throughout the game, as his side tried to finish and execute its attacks quickly. This resulted in some spectacular goals, but often errors occurred, and these were punished hard by Danish fastbreaks.

With more concentration and thanks to several two minute suspensions on the Danish side, Anita Görbicz and her team-mates selected top gear and from minute to minute they increased the lead.

On the Hungarian side Jovanka Radičević impressed with her marvelous goals and surprise assists, and the passes from centre-backs Andrea Lekić and Anita Görbicz arrived perfectly to Heidi Løke who was unstoppable on the line, scoring with both hands.

Playmaker Lærke Møller returned to the handball court after her injury and with Troelsen continuing to rifle sharp goals, FCM remained close to their opponents.

The hosts, supported by their vociferous spectators, got fresh wind through Lekić´s precise shots from nine metres and with Orsolya Vérten producing her best game of the last two years, ETO marched on by six goals, which resulted in a time out by Danish coach Ryan Zinglersen.

Győr´s defence didn´t look too stable or solid today, so Midtjylland remained focused and used every opportunity when holes appeared in the Hungarian defensive wall. The difference melted to only three goals after 45 minutes playing time.

However, the great self-confidence and playing lust of the Hungarians, coupled with Görbicz´s magical assists and Løke´s marvelous goals (10 in total) allowed Bøhn´s team to increase the difference between the two teams and with FCM unable to keep up the fight a great fiesta started in the stands in the dying minutes. 

Larvik (NOR) vs. Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP) 23:23 (10:10)

In the re-match of last year´s EHF Champions League final the two teams tied in a fairly tight thriller. The draw means that Itxako collected their first Main Round point, whilst the title-holder Larvik have three points in the bank after two rounds.

It was a low scoring affair in the early minutes as both teams felt the high pressure and big responsibility resting on their shoulders prior to the game.

The Spaniards, fully focused and concentrated, became the driving force as they clearly led by two goals after 10 minutes. Their defense stood solidly and in attack they were much more effective than the hosts who acted in their attacks nervously and seemingly without direction.

Despite a serious injury to Itxako´s left back Nerea Pena, coach Ambros Martín´s team continued to impress, but Larvik reacted and switched to a more aggressive five to one defensive formation that seemed to disturb the Itxako attackers.

Led by Karoline Dyhre Breivang the reigning champions leveled the match in the dying seconds of the first half.

The hosts emerged from the cabins with the bigger ambition to decide the game for themselves. They continued with an aggressive defence with man-marking and often disturbing the opponents on the nine metre line, which is actually the usual potent weapon for Itxako´s defence. This determined start meant a three-goal lead for Larvik and an early time out for the away team to implement new plans.

During his one minute break, coach Martín pointed out the individual one on one situations, and after that, both Macarena Aguilar and Alexandrina Barbosa scored at will. With wing player Carmen Martin cool and calculated on penalties, Itxako leveled, and everything started from scratch again.

Defensive specialist Raphaëlle Tervel was very valuable for the Spanish side, whilst for the hosts, Breivang impressed with her goals and assists.

The lead changed hands several times, as both teams aimed for victory, fighting like lions in this close and hot, but fairly-played duel.

Two straight Aguilar goals turned the match in favour of Itxako, but Larvik equalised and also had the chance to seal victory in the dying seconds, but they missed their chance.


C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. Metz Handball (FRA) 30:21 (18:12)

A great fiesta in Rm. Vâlcea, as the hosts outclassed French champions Metz in a one-sided duel, which was effectively decided after 30 minutes. Oltchim have maximum points, whilst Metz are without points after two rounds.

"We are glad that we have delivered a great match and won. We were aiming for this victory and we have shown again that we are on the right track in the tournament. I think that we started very strongly, and with our clear lead, we demoralized Metz," analyzed Oltchim´s Aurelia Brădeanu.

And indeed the hosts delivered a storming start, with four straight strikes and no answer from the away team. Metz, in good shape after last weekend´s close duel against Budućnost, had no answer.

Only Russian international Ekaterina Andryushina gave a solid performance, her colleagues were all on average level. The Oltchim players, backed by their loud fan groups, were all 'on fire' and dominated the whole 60 minutes.

Coach Sébastian Gardillou´s team was unable to come back with a proper answer and new tactics in the second half, so Oltchim celebrated their first home victory, the second in the Main Round.

Middle-back Brădeanu expects a tough game next weekend: "Against Budućnost it will be much more difficult, but we now start our preparations for them."

Budućnost (MNE) vs. RK Krim Mercator (SLO) 29:21 (13:14)

A great day for right-winger Radmila Miljanic. With 10 goals she was the top-scorer and match winner for the Montenegrin champions. The first half had been imprinted by Krim, but in the second half, the hosts moved into top gear and marched right through their opponents.

Krim presented themselves in much better shape compared to last weekend´s home match that coach Tone Tiselj´s team lost against Oltchim. Several injured players returned to the squad and the team looked fresh and compact.

The Slovenians used an energetic and quick game plan showcasing all the trademarks of modern handball in Podgorica, and with an aggressive defence and man-marking on Bojana Popović, they quickly took the lead.

When Krim were three goals ahead, Budućnost´s trainer Dragan Adžić presented his green card to refresh the hosts with some new plans.

Gifted prospect Radmila Miljanic showed a quality game for the Montenegrins and with energy-sapping individual one-on-one situations, the hosts made a 5:1 serie to take their first lead in the game at 11:10.

However, the Penezić - Franić - Aćimović back-line worked well on Krim´s side and the Slovenian champions turned the match to lead with a one-goal margin at half-time.

Coach Adžić probably found the right words in the cabins, as his side, with another 5:1 run, marched on to a comfortable three-goal lead.

Then Budućnost became more focused in their defence, whilst Krim lacked power and concentration in their attacking, and the fast wingers of the hosts punished every lost ball with quick counter attack goals.

The hosts impressed in every aspect of the game, and Clara Woltering greatly improved in the goal. Krim could only score two goals within 14 minutes, so the game was decided as early as 45 minutes.

The final 15 minutes of the game saw several missed chances and far too many errors from the away side. Krim acted without real plan and finally surrendered, whilst the hosts succeeded with everything they tried. With great efficiency, Adžić´s team increased the lead to eight goals by the final buzzer.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs