Krim, FTC and Hypo enjoy a sunny SundayArticle
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ROUND REPORT: Round 2 of the Women's EHF Champions League Group Matches came to a close with two sides gaining their first points of the campaign

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Krim, FTC and Hypo enjoy a sunny Sunday

Former champions winners Krim Mercator made it two wins out of two in the group matches of this season’s competition with a gritty victory at German rivals Leipzig, which kept them firmly on course to reach the main round, while Hungarians FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria hauled themselves back into the race after beating 2012 winners Budućnost Podgorica at home.

Hypo celebrated a memorable win over Thüringer thanks to a majestic display by Alexandra Do Nascimento and thus made amends after a heavy defeat at holders Györ in the opening round.

Group A
Hypo Niederöstereich (AUT) vs Thüringer HC (GER) 29:23 (14:13)

Hypo engineered a priceless win against Thüringer in a closely contested regional derby thanks to a fantastic individual performance from Brazilian right wing Alexandra Do Nascimento.

Easily the best player of the game on both teams, Do Nascimento dominated the court from start to finish and poured an avalanche of goals from fast breaks as well as darting runs through the opposition defence.

The visitors scored the first two goals of the match but Hypo quickly regained their composure and fired up by Do Nascimento, the home side turned the tide to take an 11:8 lead as the game approached half-time.

Thüringer, relying heavily on Alexandrina Barbosa and Sonja Frey, were able to pull level at 16:16 early in the second half but that was the last bit of joy for them as a rampant Hypo seemed to move up two gears in the last quarter of the game.

A staggering 15 turnovers by Thüringer factored into the home team’s 63 per cent scoring rate as Hypo pulled away in the last 15 minutes after the second half initially produced some rugged and physical defending on both ends of the court.

“We didn’t play a perfect match but we were much better in the second half than in the first,” Do Nascimento told Austria’s ORF Sport Plus after leading her team to victory.

“It was important to come back after suffering a disaster in the first match against Gyor,” she added, referring to the 41:22 mauling of Hypo by the reigning champions.

The win against Thüringer put Hypo back in contention for a berth in the main round as their next game against Romanian debutants in the competition Baia Mare, on Saturday 19 October, should be plain sailing for the Austrians.


Group B

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Buducnost Podgorica (MNE) 27:25 (13:13)

FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria celebrated a massively important victory against Buducnost Podgorica after a steely defensive performance in the second half helped them outmuscle and force the 2012 winners into submission.

Outstanding individual performances from left back Zsuzsanna Tomori and right wing Monika Kovacsicz made the difference in a titanic tussle decided in the last 10 minutes.

With Elena Gjeorgijevska preferred to Camilla Dalby as the starting right back, Budućnost based their offence on a quick transition of the ball to either flank and the strategy paid dividends in the first half against a more physical FTC team.

Lethal right wing Radmila Petrović scored five goals from as many attempts in the opening period and her opposite number Majda Mehmedović added two, complementing a fine first-half performance by playmaker Cristina Neagu who netted three times. 

The towering Tomori was predictably the biggest threat at the other end, scoring four goals in the first half while the quick and nimble Kovacsicz chipped in with three.

The home team led by two goals for the best part of the first half but were pegged back on the buzzer when Neagu let fly from 10 metres into the bottom left corner, setting up a fascinating second period.

A 4:1 run put the home side in the driving seat after the break but Buducnost were not about to roll over, with Marta Zderic briefly replacing Clara Woltering in goal while Dalby fired in a pair of long-range efforts to cut the deficit to 20:19 in the 40th minute. 

Petrovic continued her show when she curled in a shot which almost defied the laws of physics to make it eight goals from as many shots before Mehmedovic converted a fast break to equalise midway through the second half, delighting the visiting fans in a packed Dabas Arena.

Tomori then scored three goals in a row to give FTC a decisive 26:23 lead heading into home straight, taking her tally to seven from nine shots, while Buducnost started to misfire at the other end.

Mehmedovic and Petrovic missed a pair of sitters and the home side held on in the final few minutes to delight their vociferous supporters donning the team’s green and white scarves and flags.

“We won thanks to the support of our fans,” Tomori said after the strength-sapping encounter.

“We played well for 10 or 15 minutes but after taking a two-goal lead, we relaxed a bit and allowed our opponents to catch up. The most important thing is that we accomplished our task,” she added.

Buducnost coach Dragan Adzic heaped praise on Tomori and criticised his team’s defending.

“The world's best left back plays in FTC and after their heavy defeat in Denmark, against Midtjylland, we expected them to play much better in their first home game. I'm not satisfied with the defence of my team,” said Adzic.

Group C
HC Leipzig (GER) vs RK Krim Mercator (SLO) 23:27 (10:13)

Slovenian giants Krim Mercator showed that they have the potential to emulate last season’s success of reaching the semi-finals after a convincing performance and well-deserved win at Leipzig.

Strong defence and flowing attacks, in which the top players shared the scoring workload, amounted to a balanced team effort keeping the home team on the back foot from start to finish.

Right back Barbara Lazovic-Varlec, a home-grown talent excelling in a Krim outfit packed with international stars, got off to a furious start and scored four goals in the opening exchanges as the visitors took a 7:5 lead.

Serbian left wing Katarina Krpez added three in a high-tempo first half, while Susann Muller, who played for the Slovenian champions last season, netted twice against her former team for Leipzig.

Krim’s Romanian goalkeeper Talida Tolnai pulled off several outstanding saves to keep the visitors comfortably ahead at halftime and Croatian playmaker Andrea Penezic rifled in a pair of long range efforts early in the second half as Leipzig trailed 18:13 in the 38th minute.

The 25-year-old Lazovic continued to torment her markers and she was joined by the home team’s former prodigy Nina Worz, whose third goal kept Krim firmly in the driving seat.

Roared on by their noisy fans, Leipzig battled hard to stay in the match as Katarina Szwed Orneborg netted from the left flank and reduced the arrears to 20:17, forcing Krim coach Tone Tiselj to call a time out and instruct his troops to shore up the emerging leaks in defence.

With the home team closing in on Krim’s lead, Penezic unleashed her fourth thunderbolt from nine metres to give her team a 23:20 advantage as the thriller headed into the final 10 minutes.

Karolina Kudlacz scored her seventh goal for Leipzig to keep up the pressure on their rivals, who relied on Tolnai to stay ahead as the keeper parried a Muller effort and then a Kudlacz penalty.

Lazović-Varlec took her tally to seven at the other end in Krim’s next possession and Krpež struck with two minutes left on the clock to give the Slovenians an unassailable 26:22 lead.  

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / cor