Thüringen and Buducnost book the last main round ticketsArticle
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ROUND REVIEW: Last two places in the top eight were given out while three teams extend their European campaign in the Cup Winners' Cup Last 16. Home support was a decisive factor on Sunday.

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Thüringen and Buducnost book the last main round tickets

Through a convincing 34:25 home win against Hypo Niederösterreich in Group A, Thüringer HC wrote history by qualifying for the main round of the Women's EHF Champions League for the first time ever. The Austrian perennial champions, on the other hand, missed the main round in the last round of the group phase for the second year in succession.

2012 champions Buducnost also made their way among the last eight with a clear 29:21 win at home against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria.

In Group D, HC Podravka Vegeta took third position and proceed to the Last 16 of the Cup Winners' Cup in spite of a 28:19 away defeat to Balonmano Bera Bera.

Finally, Metz Handball defeated IK Sävehof 30:20 in a match of no significance in Group C.

Group A:
Thüringer HC (GER) vs Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) 34:25 (17:11)

In Nordhausen

It must have been a deja vu for Hypo Niederösterreich this Sunday afternoon in Nordhausen. Last year, the Austrian record champions also missed the Main Round berth on the last match day of the group phase, as they lost by nine goals away to Danish Randers HK, and this season history repeated itself, as head coach Morten Soubak's team lost by nine again and had to see Thüringer HC take the second place in the group and the main round ticket for the first time in history.

The start of the match in the Wiedigsburghalle was equal, but towards half time the German champions got ahead by four goals, and the hall almost went mad, as the home team even managed to take a six goal lead with them to the break.

In the second half the 2,208 spectators – or at least the vast majority who were Thüringer supporters – got even more to celebrate, as their local heroines increased their lead even further, to nine goals at the middle of the half. Hypo tried an extremely aggressive defence, and it helped them at first, as they managed to reduce the defitcit to five goals. It did not take the Thüringer ladies and their tactically clever coach Herbert Müller long to find solutions to that problem though, and soon the nine goal lead was reestablished and even increased to ten shortly before the end.

“I would like to thank each and every spectator who was here today – the hall was really a handball hell,” Thüringer coach Herbert Müller told his club's website after the historic win.

“I am impressed by the way we won the match today. The resolution in the attack was unbelievable,” Müller added.

Group B:
Buducnost (MNE) vs FTC Rail-Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 29:21 (15:14)
In Podgorica

The odds were clear, when the Sunday evening game in Podgorica tipped off. As both teams had six points, and as FTC had won the first internal meeting 27:25, Buducnost needed a win in order to proceed to the main round, while the Hungarian runners-up could do with a draw.

However, getting a draw in the Montenegrin capital is considerably easier said than done, and Ferencvaros also learned that lesson, might they not have known in advance. At the end Buducnost made no doubt about the outcome of the match, and the EHF Champions League winners from 2012 follow Danish FC Midtjylland to the main round, while FTC continue in the Cup Winners' Cup.

The 5,000 spectators saw the match start in an equal way with changing leads, and absolutely nothing was decided at half-time with the home team one goal up.

The second half followed the same pattern a long way, but when Buducnost got the first three goal lead in the match, as 20:17 with 18 minutes left, it was already an indication of the way the game was going. The visitors reduced to 20:19, but that was as close as they got, before the Montenegrin outfit really began to create a distance. Actually, FTC did not manage to score a single goal in the last ten minutes, and Buducnost benefitted from that to go from 23:21 to the final score 29:21.

Part of the reason was an increasing number of saves from Marta Zderic who replaced Clara Woltering in the Buducnost goal in the middle of the first half. As the second half progressed, she was virtually impossible to get the ball past, and she had a particularly good grip on Zsuzsanna Tomori, who had been FTC´s dominating shooter in the first half with five goals. The Hungarian right back only hit once in the last 30 minutes.

Group C:
Metz Handball (FRA) vs IK Sävehof (SWE) 30:20 (20:10)
In Metz

Only the honour was at stake for both teams in Les Arenes in Metz. Sävehof were sure to qualify for the main round, but after RK Krim Mercator's 32:20 win against HC Leipzig Saturday, the Swedish side could no longer reach the first place of the group.

For Metz, the situation was similar, as the French ladies were sure to finish third and proceed to the Cup Winners' Cup.

However, this had not stopped more than 4,000 spectators from showing up for the match, in which Metz seemed to be the far better team, when it came to handling the situation of not really having anything at stake.

The match was equal until 3:3, but from then on Metz moved on to 8:3, and for the rest of the first half the hostesses increased their lead to ten at half time.

After the break, Sävehof managed to tighten their defence, while Metz reduced their pace a bit, and even though Sävehof´s right wing Hanna Fogelström had to leave the court with an ankle injury, the Swedes managed to at least draw in the second half.

Group D:
Balonmano Bera Bera (ESP) vs HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) 28:19 (11:11)
In San Sebastian

The Cup Winners' Cup berth was at stake when Bera Bera and Podravka had their high noon show-down in the Biebieta Sports Centre in San Sebastian.

However, the visitors were favourites to take third position in the group and book the Cup Winners' Cup ticket, as they had won their first match against the Spaniards 29:18. Bera Bera would therefore need a 12-goal win – 11 if they could keep Podravka under 18 goals – in order to proceed to the round of the Last 16 in the Cup Winners' Cup.

From the start of the match, the hosts actually seemed to be heading for a big win. They got ahead 3:0, and it took Podravka seven minutes and 11 seconds to score their first goal.

From 4:1, though, Podravka got back into the game which was equal for the rest of the first half. This also applied to the first 20 minutes of the second half, but form then on, the home team started to make a distance which became clearer and clearer. Actually, Bera Bera scored the last nine goals of the match and went from 20:19 to the final result 28:19.

However, the Spanish finish came too late, and Podravka could celebrate their Cup Winners' Cup berth, while Bera Bera will have to be content with getting a win in the group stage at last.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br