Big guns on song, Midtjylland win derbyArticle
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ROUND REVIEW: Last season's semi-finalists, RK Krim Mercator suffered their first defeat of the season as Metz Handball rekindle their hopes for the Main Round.

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Women's News

Big guns on song, Midtjylland win derby

Almost all big names of women’s club handball emphatically won their Sunday games against lesser rivals halfway through the EHF Champions League group stage as only last season's semi-finalists, RK Krim Mercator suffered their first defeat of the season.

It was goals galore in Dabas as FTC ran riot against Polish rivals Lublin and former champions Larvik were just as convincing at Spaniards Balonmano Bera Bera.

Györi Audi ETO, the reigning champions, also enjoyed a comfortable win as Anita Görbicz rifled in 11 goals at Thüringer, while Krim Mercator lost their unbeaten record at Metz, who finally got off the mark thanks to an outstanding performance by their Czech goalkeeper Barbora Ranikova.

Denmark’s Midtjylland fought back from an early four-goal deficit to clinch the day’s outstanding fixture against Budućnost, who now face a tough task to avoid early elimination.

Group A
Thüringer HC (GER) vs Györi Audi ETO (HUN) 25:33 (12:20)

In Nordhausen

Holders Györ cruised to their third straight win in the group stage and this time it was playmaker Anita Görbicz who stood in the star-studded Hungarian outfit, scoring 11 goals to cap a brilliant individual performance in Nordhausen.

Montenegrin right back Katarina Bulatovic, who won Europe’s premier club competition with Buducnost Podgorica in 2012, netted seven as Györ carved out an eight-goal lead in the first half and comfortably held on to their advantage against their German rivals.

Sonja Frey led the home side with six goals and Ana Gros added as many, but their inspirational middle back Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa was held to just three goals as Györ’s tough defence found a way to thwart the versatile Spanish playmaker.

Missing three of their seven penalty shots also did not help Thüringer’s effort, while Györ rifled in all seven to underline their shooting prowess.

Group B
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs MKS Lublin (POL) 40:25 (20:12)

In Dabas

Following a crushing opening day defeat by Midtjylland, FTC notched their second successive group stage win and a heart-warming one too, having mauled Polish rivals Lublin in a high-scoring performance.

The Hungarian side are now in a good position to challenge for a top-two finish in this tough pool, where Danish flag carriers Midtjylland and 2012 Buducnost Podgorica are also in contention to reach the Main Round.

Lublin left back Alina Wojtas was the game’s outstanding player with an impressive tally of 11 goals, but her valiant solo effort could not stop an FTC team firing on all cylinders to run away with the points in Dabas.

Right wing Monika Kovaczics led the home side with eight goals, left back Zsuzsanna Tomori rifled in seven while Nerea Pena Abaurrea, Orsolya Verten and Szandra Zacsik added five each.

Lublin made a bright start and took a 4:3 lead but their joy was short-lived, as FTC conjured a 6:1 run and never looked back.

The Polish side briefly rekindled their hopes when they slashed the huge deficit to 21:15 early in the second half. However, that was their last roar as Pena Abaurrea’s strike in the 50th minute fired the home side into a 10-goal lead, swelling to a massive 15 in the final minute.

“It was great to see us play up to our potential and I am very happy about it,” FTC head coach Gabor Elek said after the game. “Everything was great as we accomplished our task and now looking forward to the next match,” he added.

FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Buducnost Podgorica (MNE) 21:19 (8:11)
In Ikast

Midtjylland staged a remarkable second-half comeback for their third successive win which put them firmly in the driving seat of the group and a commanding position to reach the Main Round.

The Round 3 derby fully lived up to expectations and produced an outstanding game of handball, with personal battles between some of Europe’s household names adding spice to this entertaining clash.

Buducnost stormed into a 5:1 lead on the back of some good saves by Clara Woltering and superb finishing by their Romanian playmaker Cristina Neagu, who scored four goals in a rampant first half.

Although the visitors at one point led 10:5, Woltering’s German compatriot Sabine Englert kept Midtjylland afloat with a string of superb interventions at the other end, allowing her team to stay in touch at the interval.

The magnificent Englert shone in the second half as the home team turned a 12:8 deficit into a 14:13 lead, setting up a dramatic last quarter of the game in which the pendulum swung either way.

Buducnost nosed ahead 16:15 after robust pivot Dragana Cvijic scored her fourth goal but Trine Jensen and Line Jorgensen were unstoppable at the other end, unleashing several long-range efforts past Woltering to give Midtjylland a decisive 20:18 lead with only one minute left on the clock in a packed Ikast Arena.

After their opening win over Lublin, Buducnost have now suffered two narrow away defeats by FTC and Midtjylland, meaning that they have to beat both in the reverse fixtures at home if they are to keep alive any realistic hopes of reaching the last eight of the competition.

Jensen finished as the game’s top scorer with eight goals, Jorgensen scored five while Neagu led Buducnost with six and Cvijic netted four for the Montenegrin champions. 

Group C

Metz Handball (FRA) vs RK Krim Mercator (SLO) 21:20 (12:7)
In Metz

French champions Metz celebrated their first group stage win of the season after a truly fantastic performance by their goalkeeper Barbora Ranikova, who thwarted a second-half comeback by Krim after she also engineered a decisive early lead.

Needing a win to stay in the hunt for a top-two finish, Metz got off to a furious start and after the score was tied 3:3 in the opening stages, the home side surged ahead 9:4 on the back of three goals by left wing Paule Baudouin and Ranikova’s acrobatics between the posts.

Krim, in contrast, could seemingly do nothing right as their indisciplined defending resulted in too many two-minute suspensions, while their wayward passes kept going astray at the other end.

It was therefore no surprise that Metz maintained their five-goal lead by halftime but the second period was a different story, as Krim’s ring wing Neli Irman started finding gaps in the home team’s defence.

The rivals were level 14:14 heading into the last 15 minutes and after Metz conjured a 5:2 run to restore a three-goal lead (19:16), the visitors launched one last fightback when they scored three goals without reply to haul themselves back into the game again.

But Ranikova was not to be denied her glorious evening. The Czech keeper pulled off one save after another as everything Krim threw at her seemed to hit a wall, while the home side netted twice to take a decisive 21:19 lead before the Slovenians managed a late consolation.

Irman finished as the game’s top scorer with six goals, while Baudouin and Nina Kamto Njitam let Metz with four each. However, it was Ranikova with her 17 saves who will have earned the lion’s share of the plaudits for delighting the home fans. 

Group D
Balonmano Bera Bera (ESP) vs Larvik HK (NOR) 17:27 (9:13)

In Donostia – San Sebastian

Larvik stayed neck-and-neck with Vardar in their two-team race for the group’s top spot after strolling to a convincing win at Balonmano Bera Bera, who are clearly struggling at the top level.

Nora Mork, who snatched a draw for Larvik in last round’s fortuitous draw at Vardar when she scored on the buzzer to deny the Macedonian champions a win, was again instrumental in her team’s success with a game-high six goals in San Sebastian.

Isabel Blanco added five goals for the Norwegian title holders, while Gro Hammerseng-Edin, Linn-Kristin Koren Riegelhuth and Thea Mork chipped in with three each.

Captain Matxalen Ziarsolo led the home side with five goals and Eli Pinedo added four, but it was too little for the spirited Basque outfit to avoid their third successive defeat in the preliminary group stage.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / br