Györ reach Women's EHF FINAL4 as Buducnost close inArticle
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ROUND REVIEW: The defending champions become the first team to reach the showpiece event in Budapest in May following a 24:22 victory against Krim Mercator on Saturday night

Györ reach Women's EHF FINAL4 as Buducnost close in

EHF Champions League holders Györi Audi ETO KC qualified for the elite club competition’s first Women's EHF FINAL4 with two games to spare and 2012 winners Buducnost have one foot in Budapest after Saturday’s exciting pair of matches in Group 2.

While Györ are mathematically through, Buducnost theoretically need one more point. However, the Montenegrin champions should still reach the showpiece event even if they lose both their remaining main round matches.

Krim Mercator’s only hope of overhauling Buducnost is to beat Larvik away and then somehow conjure a 16-goal win over the Montenegrins at home in their final match, but even that will not be enough if Buducnost avoid defeat in their next game at home to Györ.

Group 2

RK Krim Mercator vs Gyori Audi ETO KC 22:24 (14:14)

Decimated by the departures of several high profile players who have left the club, Krim Mercator were expected to be easy prey for Györ but instead gave the defending champions a good run for their money in the Stozice Arena.

Györ ran out worthy winners in the end and became the first team to book their FINAL4 berth after a scintillating contest was decided in an erratic last 10 minutes, when both sides were seemingly running on fumes.

It was a see-saw battle from start to finish, as Krim, led by right back Barbara Lazovic-Varlec and Serbian right wing Katarina Krpez, gave as good as they got from the star-studded Hungarian outfit.

Brazil’s World Championship winner Eduarda Amorim fired on all cylinders for Györ in the first half as the visitors enjoyed a two-goal lead for much of the opening period, but were pegged back into a halftime stalemate as the unrelenting Lazovic-Varlec kept replying at other end.

Three goals without reply put the visitors in the driving seat when they took a 21:18 lead midway through the second half, but Krim came storming back to equalise and force a dramatic last 10 minutes in which both sides wasted one attack after another.

With Györ leading 23:22 in the closing stages, their Norwegian pivot Heidi Loke sealed the tie with an exquisite finish which left Krim with the slimmest of chances to stay in contention for a Women's EHF FINAL4 berth.

Playmaker Anita Görbicz had a quiet afternoon for Gyor but kept converting seven-metre penalty shots with stunning accuracy, thus finishing as her team’s top score with five goals.

Lazovic-Varlec and Krpez also scored five each for Krim, whose Croatian left back Andrea Penezic struggled against a physical Györ defence which again had wind put into their sails by goalkeeper Katrine Lunde.

Larvik (NOR) vs Buducnost (MNE) 17:22 (8:9)

Only a monumental collapse can stop Buducnost from reaching the Women's EHF FINAL4 after the Montenegrin title holders produced a majestic performance in a 22:17 whitewash of Larvik, primarily thanks to their inspirational goalkeeper Clara Woltering and left back Cristina Neagu.

Woltering racked up a whopping 17 saves against the Norwegian champions while the elusive Neagu dished out assists like confetti, as line player Dragana Cvijic and both wingers profited from her incisive passing throughout the match.

Needing a win to keep alive any hopes of staying in the hunt for a berth in the showpiece event in Budapest, Larvik held their own in the opening exchanges and led 5:4 midway through the first half on the back of three goals from a fired-up Nora Mork.

But that was the last time the hosts were in front as Buducnost’s iron clad defence, marshaled by Woltering with unequivocal authority, kept them at bay and forced Larvik’s backcourt shooters to misfire from long range.

Cvijic was a handful on the six-metre line at the other end and Danish right back Camilla Dalby, who played arguably her best EHF Champions League game in a Buducnost shirt, unleashed several scorchers as the visitors stayed firmly in the driving seat.

Tine Stange scored with a fierce shot into the top corner to cut Larvik’s deficit to 16:17 with 10 minutes left but that proved to be the last roar of the elite club competition’s 2011 champions.

Woltering pulled the curtains down in front of her net and Cvijic was unstoppable at the other end as Buducnost scored five goals without reply, sparking massive celebrations on their bench and among a handful of visiting fans in the Larvik Arena.

Mork finished as the game’s top scorer with seven goals but cut a forlorn figure at the end of the one-sided contest which will have sent Larvik’s coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad back to the drawing board ahead of the last two main round games, where the Norwegians have only pride to play for.

Cvijic led Buducnost with six goals, Dalby chipped in with four while the effervescent Neagu, playmaker Milena Knezevic and winger Radmila Petrovic added three each.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / ts