Midtjylland shine as Vardar put themselves on the mapArticle
«Go back

MATCH REPORT: A mixed bag of results for the numerous debutants as the first round of the Women's EHF Champions League draws to a close

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Women's News

Midtjylland shine as Vardar put themselves on the map

Household names masked as new arrivals, former champions and Danish delight seekers marked the second day of the EHF Champions League’s opening round of what promises to be a thoroughly enthralling season.   

Vardar Skopje, boasting a plethora of international stars, gave Macedonians an early taste of success in the club’s first appearance at the top level as the individual quality of their new signings made the difference against fellow debutants Baia Mare.

However, it was Denmark’s FC Mitdjylland, whose best result in the competition was reaching the 2003 semi-final under their former name Ikast, who lit up Sunday’s entertaining schedule with an impressive win over Frenencvaros.

Linn-Kristin Koren Riegelhuth’s fantastic 12-goal performance in Saturday’s mauling of HC Podravka Vegeta was followed up by stellar displays from Thüringer playmaker Alexandrina Barbosa and Mitdjylland goalkeeper Sabine Englert.

Thüringer emulated Leipzig’s Saturday achievement to give Germany a perfect start in Europe’s top club competition and 2012 champions Budućnost Podgorica also got off the mark in style with a crushing defeat of Polish rivals MKS Lublin.

Group A

Thüringer HC (GER) vs HCM Baia Mare (ROU) 36:29 (18:15)

A vastly entertaining contest went the home team’s way, as Thüringer HC got off to a winning start thanks to a superb performance from their summer acquisition Alexandrina Carbajal Barbosa, who joined the German side from the disbanded Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea.

The Portuguese-born Spain centre back used her speed to great effect throughout the match, pouring in the goals from fast breaks and assisting either wing as Thüringer patiently built their lead in a fast flowing and high-scoring encounter.

Romanian debutants Baia Mare were not overawed by their maiden appearance in the competition and having fallen behind 8:5 early on, they briefly turned the tide to lead 13:11.

Their joy was short-lived, however, as Barbosa took over and commandeered the final twist in the opening period. The home team never looked back after taking a three-goal lead at the interval and although Baia Mare fought hard to keep the deficit down after the break, they appeared to run out of steam in the closing stages.

Having managed to stay afloat until the 40th minute, when they trailed 23:20, Baia Mare were overran in the final third of the match as Anja Althaus, Sonja Frey, Lydia Jakubisova and the towering Franziska Mietzner provided the all-important support to the effervescent Barbosa. 

On the final whistle, Thüringer received a well-deserved standing ovation from the vociferous home fans sporting their trademark gargantuan drums in a jam-packed Nordhausen Arena.   

Group B

Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) vs MKS Lublin (POL) 31:19 (16:8)

Montenegro’s European pride Budućnost gave their passionate fans in the Morača Arena plenty to look forward to after a convincing win over Poland’s MKS Lublin.

The competition’s 2012 winners look on course to continue their smooth transition after boosting a youthful squad with tried and tested Dane Camilla Dalby and Romanian playmaker Cristina Neagu.

A physical contest started with both sides applying a cautious approach before Budućnost moved up a gear and engineered a 7:3 lead on the back of good saves by German goalkeeper Clara Woltering.

Elena Gjeorgijevska and Radmila Petrovic converted a pair of fast breaks to open the floodgates as Budućnost romped to a 15:7 advantage in the 28th, finishing the first half on a high note.

Neagu blastet a missile from 10 metres on the buzzer to join winger Majda Mehmedović and left back Milena Knežević on three goals each, underlining a potent attacking force which Lublin struggled to contain in the opening 30 minutes.

The second half more of the same as Budućnost kept up the pace and scored from a barrage of fast breaks as well as open mid-range shots to storm ahead 26:14 in the 50th minute, with the imperious Woltering a pillar between the posts for the home team.

She collected 21 saves as Petrović led the scoring chart for the winners with six goals, two more than the efficient support cast of Mehmedović, Neagu, Knežević and Dalby. Line player Joanna Drabik and Alina Wojtas scored four each for Lublin.

FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 32:23 (16:11)

Denmark’s flag carriers of the 2013/14 season made a statement of intent to reach uncharted territory in the competition with a rip-roaring win over Hungarian giants Ferencvaros.

FC Mitdjylland, formerly Ikast, blew away a heralded opponent with a second half hurricane as their German goalkeeper Sabine Englert propelled the rest of the team with a truly magnificent performance between the posts.

Having trailed 4:1 after the opening five minutes, the Danish side hit top gear as left back Trine Troelsen and opposite number Line Jorgensen tormented FTC with long-range efforts and searing drives threw the middle.

Smooth and free-flowing attacking as Englert closed shop enabled the Danes to swing the pendulum and march confidently into a 10:6 lead, after which they held off a brief Ferencvaros fight back to stay in the driving seat.  

Englert racked up an 18th stop for a stunning save ratio of 55 per cent in the 37th minute as everything FTC threw at her seemed to hit a wall, while Stine Jorgensen, Cornella Groot and agile pivot Susan Thorsgaard joined the free-scoring party at the other end.

With the score 18:15 to Midtjylland early in the second half, the home team took their high-tempo game to a new level and romped to a 12:3 run, sending their fans into raptures and a forlorn Ferencvaros team relying on prolific left back Zsuzsanna Tomori to prevent a complete whitewash.

The final score in no way flattered the fast and furious Midtjylland, whose pace and quick transition of the ball in attack complimented solid defence propped by the majestic Englert.

Groot, Line Jorgensen, Troelsen and Trine Jensen rifled in six goals each to spearhead a superbly balanced Midtjylland effort, while Spaniard Nerea Penna Abaurea netted eight and Tomori added seven for Ferenczvaros.

Group D

Balonmano Bera Bera (ESP) vs Vardar Skopje (MKD) 19:23 (8:12)

Vardar Skopje celebrated a historic first win in the EHF Champions League group stages, overpowering Spanish title holders Balonmano Bera Bera in a clash of debutants in Europe’s premier club competition.

However, it was not all plain sailing for the emerging Macedonian project and their patchy performance suggests that the star-studded outfit, assembled during the close-season when 10 internationals joined the club, will need a bit of time to gel into the unit they should become.

Serbia centre back Andrea Lekić, who joined Vardar from holders Gyori Audi ETO, scored four of her six goals in the last 15 minutes after the home side had threatened to snatch a draw although they trailed from start to finish in an errors-strewn contest.

Bera Bera goakeeper Ana Temprano produced nine saves in the first half but Vardar were still able to take a four-goal lead at the interval thanks to rugged defending and good finishing by Montenegro right wing Jovanka Radičević as well as Russian right back Tatiana Khmyrova, who ended the game with four goals each.

The home side reduced the arrears to just one goal (13:12) in the 38th minute as Vardar’s game in offence came to a screeching halt early in the second half, with the more physical visitors also picking up a series of two-minute exclusions.

Bera Bera left wing and captain Matxalen Ziarsolo shone throughout the contest and finished with a game-high seven goals, but her valiant solo effort was cancelled out by Lekić’s strong finish which enabled Vardar to restore a four-goal cushion and hold on to it.  

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / cor