Rampant Györ surge on as reigning champions are beatenArticle
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Rampant Györ surge on as reigning champions are beaten

Last season’s finalists enjoyed contrasting fortunes on a day of enthralling action, highlighted by Györ’s masterclass away win over Krim Mercator as much as by the first defeat for holders Budućnost Podgorica.

The Hungarian champions are in a commanding position to reach the Main Round with three wins out of three, while Budućnost are left with plenty of work to do after Thüringer stunned them.

Hypo, Zvezda Zvenigorod and Larvik also ground out important wins which kept them in the upper halves of their respective groups. The Group Matches are at the halfway stage and the rip-roaring entertainment seen so far promises three fascinating rounds of reverse fixtures.

Three-times European club champions Viborg are in trouble after a third successive defeat left them teetering on the brink of early elimination from Europe, while Buxtehuder are finding life in the top flight difficult after doing so well to squeeze into the elite.

Group A:
Buxtehuder SV (GER ) vs Hypo NÖ (AUT) 20:28 (8:11)

Hypo moved a step closer towards the Main Round after an effervescent performance gave them a 28:20 win at Buxtehuder SV, who registered their third defeat in as many matches.

The German vice-champions staged the shock of the qualifying rounds when they eliminated Byåsen Trondheim to reach the Group Matches, but competing on the biggest stage of club handball has proved to be a tall order for them so far.

Hypo, on the other hand, patiently built their lead from the start and were in full control after the opening 20 minutes, when they enjoyed the cushion of a five-goal advantage (10:5).

BSV fought hard to stay in the match and in the 33rd minute they cut the deficit to 10:13, rekindling their hopes of forcing a dramatic twist on their home court.

But the visitors, whose strong defence produced a flurry of easy goals from fast breaks, engineered a 4:1 run which put them back firmly in the driving seat and they never looked back after further increasing their advantage to 19:12 midway through the second half.

The win lifted Hypo to second position in the group with two wins from three games, behind EHF Champions League favourites Oltchim Vâlcea, who have a perfect record after beating Randers on Saturday.

Brazil’s Diniz Carvahlo Carneiro, epitomising the more athletic Hypo team, lead a flowing display with 8 goals and her efforts were complemented by compatriot Alexandra Do Nascimento and Hungarian middle back Bernadett Temes who added six each.

Lone Fischer was Buxtehuder’s top scorer with six goals while Marcella Deen and Maxi Hayn scored three each.

Group B
Krim Mercator (SLO) vs Györi Audi ETO (HUN) 20:31 (9:12)

The Hungarian champions stayed firmly on course to reach the Main Round as the group winners after their third win in as many highly impressive performances in Europe’s premier club competition.

Last season’s runners-up, out to put behind them the dramatic defeat to Budućnost Podgorica in last season’s final, have so far shown the steel, discipline and maturity required to perhaps reach the pinnacle at the second time of asking.

Their relentless pressure put Krim to the sword in a game of exceptional quality, with eye-catching skills morphed with a tough physical battle between two extremely fit rivals.

The talent of Györ’s methodically assembled outfit prevailed as Serbian middle back Andrea Lekić, who had spent four years at Krim while establishing herself as a top level player, enjoyed an emotional return to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana.

A sizeable and vociferous band of away supporters played a vital part in the fantastic atmosphere which lifted both teams to their limits early on, with the visitors carving out a 9:5 lead in the closing stages of the first half.

Krim, however, held on valiantly and had the home fans on their feet when they reduced the deficit to 13:14 shortly after the break, but their joy was short-lived.

Led by Anita Görbicz, Györ conjured a 5:0 blitz which put the game beyond Krim’s reach as the livewire middle back stung the home team at crunch times to snuff out any hopes of a comeback.

Görbicz scored in a variety of skillful thrusts through the Krim defence to cap a superb individual performance by a game-high eight goals, as Montenegrin winger Jovanka Radičević rifled in six and Norwegian pivot Heidi Løke added five. Eduarda Amorim netted four goals for the winners, the same amount as Krim’s top scorers Nina Wörz and Maja Zrnec.

The home side kept battling hard after falling seven goals behind but the gulf in class was everywhere to be seen in the last 10 minutes, as Györ scored almost at will.

Group C
Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) vs Larvik (NOR) 24:35 (14:17)

Any doubts about Larvik’s credentials to mount a serious challenge in this season’s EHF Champions League were emphatically dispelled by a vintage performance and an impressive victory in Volgograd.

The 2011 European club champions showed their class and pedigree against Dinamo, who suffered a second successive heavy defeat at home after losing 37:21 to Ferencváros in the opening round.

Larvik, on the other hand, bounced back in style after last weekend’s defeat in Hungary and gained what seems to be a decisive advantage over Dinamo in the battle for one of the top two spots in the group.

Dinamo had no reply for Larvik’s incisive passing and the lethal finishing of Anja Edin, who led all scorers with eight goals. Gro Hammerseng and Bille Hansen added five each while Isabel Blanco netted four for Larvik. Ekaterina Grebenkina and Aleksandra Stepanova topped the charts for Dinamo with three goals each.

Group D
Thüringer HC (GER) vs Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) 24:20 (10:10)

A dream start for EHF Champions League holders Budućnost Podgorica ended in a surprising 24:20 defeat at German champions Thüringer HC, whose have put themselves in contention for the Main Round with a second win in three Group Matches.

And it is quite an accomplishment for THC, who collected only one point from six games at the same stage of the competition last season. Their inspired performance against a youthful Montenegrin team, who entered the match beaming with confidence after two impressive victories, has presented German team with a fighting chance of reaching the last eight.

Slovakian right wing Lýdia Jakubisová led the home team’s charge with eight goals, while Dane Mie Augustesen embodied a fine team performance on both flanks, adding six goals from the left wing.

The competition’s top scorer Milena Knežević spearheded Budućnost with six goals and Jelena Živković netted four, but the support cast failed as the team’s flowing transition from defence to attack was thwarted by a fiercely motivated home side.

Viborg HK (DEN) vs Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) 27:28 (12:13)

The three-times EHF Champions League winners are flirting with early elimination from European competition after a third straight defeat left them bottom of the group with no points and a mountain to climb.

Shaken by the long-term injury to their Norwegian line player Marit Malm Frafjord, Viborg will need to pull something special out of the hat if they are avoid a premature exit after a dramatic home loss to Zvezda.

The Russian side, who opened their campaign with a drubbing at the hands of reigning champions Budućnost Podgorica, clawed their way back into a decent position to reach the last eight, having engineered a second successive win.

Budućnost, Thüringer and Zvezda are locked on four points, meaning that the three will in all likelihood battle it out for the top two berths leading into the Main Round, while Viborg now face the daunting task of catching up with at least one of the front-runners.

Macedonian centre back Julija Nikolić stood out with a game-high eight goals in a see-saw battle which went to Zvezda, who showed more composure in the last 10 minutes and silenced the vociferous home fans.

Liudmila Postnova added six goals for the winners, while Polina Kuznetcova netted five. Maria Fisker enjoyed a fine performance for Viborg and capped it with seven goals, as Tunisian left back Mouna Chebbah scored six for the Danish side.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br