Györ in the main round, Larvik on the doorstepArticle
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ROUND REVIEW: Both last season's finalists recorded victories as Krim returned to a commanding position in Group C on Saturday and Hypo preserved their hope for the Main Round.

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Györ in the main round, Larvik on the doorstep

Reigning EHF Champions League winners Györi Audi ETO are the first team in the Main Round of this season's tournament, while their opponents in the final last season, Larvik are close to following them.

After several attempts, Györi Audi ETO finally managed to win the Women's EHF Champions League last season. This season, the Hungarians are the first team to qualify for the Main Round. Saturday evening, the team under head coach Martin Ambros overcame a difficult start at home against Thüringer HC to book a 29:22 win - their fourth consecutive win in Group A.

Hypo Niederöstereich strengthened their chance to be the second team from the group to proceed to the next round after a 23:20 home win against HCM Baia Mare.

Györ's opponents in the final last season, Larvik HK are extremely close to booking their main round ticket too after a 29:21 victory at home against Balonmano Bera Bera, while RK Krim Mercator took a major step toward the last eight, as the Slovenians defeated Metz Handball 27:21 at home

Group A
Györi Audi ETO (HUN) vs. Thüringer HC (GER) 29:22 (13:11)
In Györ

With four clear wins in four matches, Györ have left no one in doubt who is the best team in this group so far. However, the defending Champions League winners had to overcome an extremely troublesome start at home against Thüringer HC, before they could celebrate their qualification for the next stage as the first team this season.

The German champions offered excellent resistance, even on a day, when Champions League top scorer Sonja Frey did not even hit the net. In fact, the visitors were leading by three goals a couple of times in the first half, and only when Györ were six field players against four towards the end of the first half – for a few seconds even six against three – did the hosts manage to create a two goal lead at half time.

In the second half, though, there was no doubt who were the better team, and with a magnificent Katrine Lunde Haraldsen in goal and fine attacking performances by Anita Görbicz and Katarina Bulatovic, the home team could increase their lead to seven goals at the end.

Katarina Bulatovic scored seven times for Györ, while Thüringer HC had the most scoring player of the match, as Cabral Barbosa hit eight times.

Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) vs. HCM Baia Mare (ROU) 23:20 (16:10)
In Maria Enzerdorf

In the first half nothing indicated that this would be a close affair. Hypo Niederösterreich soon took a clear lead, and at half time the hosts were leading by six.

However, spurred on by a brilliant performance by Paula Ungureanu in goal and an enthusiastic lot of Romanian fans who had taken the trip to Vienna outskirts, the visitors slowly crawled closer from the start of the second half.

At the middle of the second half, Baia Mare were as close as one goal at 19:18 and 20:19, and they had the chance to equalize several times, but without succeeding, and instead the Austrians overcame the difficulties and boosted their chances to qualify for the Main Round through a three goal win.

Alexandra do Nascimento was outstanding, when it came to scoring goals. The Brazilian right wing scored no less than 11 times for Hypo, while Baia Mare had their most scoring player in Lena Rudics with four goals.

Group C
RK Krim Mercator (SLO) vs. Metz Handball (FRA) 27:21 (13:11)
In Ljubljana

Krim got a major boost to their Main Round hopes through Saturday night´s clear home win against Metz. The win did not seem all that clear for most of the first half, though. As a matter of fact, the French champions seemed to be on the road to repeating their one goal win from the two teams' first meeting a Metz a fortnight ago.

The visitors were leading by two goals several times during the first 30 minutes, but towards half time, the hosts got up and even managed to take a two goal lead with them into the dressing room.

From the start of the second half, then, Krim left no doubt about the difference in strength this evening and increase their lead to six which was also the distance at the end.

Neli Irman scored seven times for hosts who took the lead of the group with six points after four matches. Paule Baudouin also scored seven for Metz who are left in third positions with two points, but still with a hope to reach the Main Round.

Group D
Larvik HK (NOR) vs. Balonmano Bera Bera (ESP) 29:21 (15:9)
In Larvik

“We are few, but we are strong,” Larvik's head coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad said about his team. He obviously referred to the fact that apart from Kari Mette Johansen and Kristina Bille, who are both on maternal leave, Cecilie Leganger, Tonje Larsen, Isabel Blanco and Anja Hammerseng-Edin are all sidelined with more or less long-lasting injuries.

However, he was also referring to the fact that in spite of these problems has his team managed to remain unbeaten in the EHF Champions League as well as in the national league, although they have lost a point in both leagues.

Saturday night the Norwegian record champions celebrated their 200th European match in history with a further win and get extremely close to qualifying for the main round, as Bera Bera were defeated clearly in in the Arena Larvik.

It did not take Larvik long to get four goals ahead, and at half time, the Champions League winners from 2011 were leading by six. In the last 30 minutes, the home team concentrated on keeping that distance, and young talents were given the chance on the court towards the end, but still Larvik had no trouble winning by eight.

If the other top team in the group, Vardar get at least a draw away against Podravka Vegeta Sunday evening, Larvik as well as Vardar will be in the next stage with two rounds left.

Linn Jorum Sulland scored no less than 11 goals for Larvik, while Patricia Elorza Eguiara scored 8 for Bera Bera who are out of the race for the Main Round.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br