Goalkeepers make the difference for bronze medalist VardarArticle
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3/4 Placement match: The Macedonian champions bow out from the tournament on a high note after beating FC Midtjylland 34:31.

Goalkeepers make the difference for bronze medalist Vardar

The Women's EHF Champions League newcomers WHC Vardar SCBT do not leave Budapest empty-handed. In the 3/4th placement match of the MVM EHF FINAL4 they beat FC Midtjylland 34:31 and claimed the bronze medals.

MVM EHF FINAL4, 3/4 Placement match:
WHC Vardar SCBT vs FC Midtjylland 34:31 (14:12)

The Macedonian team were leading most of the time but the game was not decided by physical presence or stamina, but excellent goalkeeping from one team and the lack of it at the other end.

“This is not only the third place at the FINAL4, this is as good as being third in the world, because of the immense quality of the European club handball and the teams on this tournament as well. I loved being here,  the atmosphere was great, and it was a privilege to share this achievement with these great fans,” Vardar line player Ana Djokic said.

Nycke Groot scored 11 goals on her birthday as she became the top scorer of the game, but she found only a little solace in this individual achievement.

"It doesn’t matter how many goals I have scored. We have to win as a team, it is more important for me to win the game," she said.

Even game

There was no trace of tiredness or disappointment in the way FC Midtjylland and Vardar started the match, both teams tried to play their own games. Vardar proved more efficient on the attack as Allison Pineau opened the scoring and the Macedonians also kept an eye on the most dangerous weapon of the Danish side and made rapid transitions.

Midtjylland could not score from fastbreaks thus were forced to lead most of their attacks against the Vardar wall. This approach is closer to the Macedonians’ style no wonder Vardar took an early lead which they managed to keep for most of the first half.

The goalkeepers hardly made contact with the ball in the first 20 minutes but but as Vardar players were busy collecting two minute penalties they needed some nice saves from Irina Suslina to maintain their narrow lead over Midtjylland going into the interval.

Goalkeepers made the difference

Saturday’s games started to take their tolls on both teams – especially Vardar with their 70 minute thriller less than 24 hours before – as more and more technical errors were made by the worn-out players. Midtjylland equalised but when Vardar opened their wall to a 5+1 formation the Danes had difficulties finding the net and Lekic put the Macedonian outfit back on track with her 6th goal.

Midtjylland seemed to lose grasp of the game when Vardar went five goals ahead. Helle Thomsen changed goalkeepers in vain almost all shots on the Danish goal were succesfull and 15 minutes from the final whistle the game seemed to be done.

However, Midtjylland fought as hard as they had done against Győr on Saturday, Cornelia Groot was once again unstoppable but the Balkan team led inspired attacks and Suslina remained outstanding in goal. Vardar managed to keep the Danes at bay as they were practicly attacking against an open goal.

Vardar take bronze

When Jovanka Radicevic, who won the EHF Champions League last year with Győr proved she could hardly miss from a good angle and Vardar went six ahead, all players on the court came to terms with the fact that bronze medal belongs to the Macedonian team, who thoroughly deserved their triumph over the Great Danes of Budapest.

TEXT: Bence Martha / br