Buducnost and Vardar storm into main roundArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: Montenegrin and Macedonian champions both sailed into the main round after emphatic home wins over their respective rivals on Sunday

Buducnost and Vardar storm into main round 

Group B favourites WHC Vardar SCBT and Buducnost have eased into the Women's EHF Champions League Main Round with two games to spare, following a win each on Sunday.

Buducnost and Vardar, who meet in next weekend’s eagerly awaited reverse fixture after the Montenegrin side won the first meeting 23:17 at home, have secured their passage, while Thuringer keep the edge over Podravka in the group’s third-place battle.

WHC Vardar SCBT (MKD) vs Podravka Vegeta (CRO) 35:25 (15:10)

A dramatic one-goal win in last weekend’s reverse fixture against Podravka was a stern enough warning for Vardar to fire on all cylinders on the home court, so it came as no surprise when the Macedonian outfit steamrolled their Croatian rivals in Jane Sandanski Arena.

The Croatian side were able to hold their own in the opening 20 minutes, tying the game at 6:6 before their opponents pulled away. 

Vardar’s Inna Suslina helped the home team take the lead, saving three penalties from three different takers before Podravka managed a three-goal blitz that reduced the difference to one (10:9). 

But Vardar stormed into a five-goal half-time lead thanks to fast attack led by playmaker Andrea Lekic and left back Andrea Penezic, and high-scoring wings Siraba Dembele and Jovanka Radicevic. 

The one-sided game continued in the second half as the home team pressed on relentlessly. Goals continued to fly in for Vardar as they built a 31:20 lead with five minutes left – only a string of saves by Podravka goalkeeper Mirjana Milenkovic denied Vardar a bigger win.

Vardar coach Indira Kastratovic rotated in some younger members of the squad in the closing stages, who scored some exciting goals to cap a memorable night for Vardar. 

The hosts have now sealed their passage to the main round and can look forward to their highly-anticipated clash with Buducnost next Sunday.

Buducnost (MNE) vs Thüringer HC (GER) 23:14 (11:6)

Buducnost recorded another clear win on Sunday, defeating Thüringer HC by nine goals in a game where the home team played a near perfect match. 

In comparison with the first match between the sides a week ago, which Buducnost won 22:27, Thüringer had left back Franziska Mietzner and left wing Martine Smeets back in the team roster. But the seven goals from Mietzner and one from Smeets were far from enough to bring the German champions close to their hosts in Podgorica.

The low-scoring first half was dominated by Buducnost, whose strong defence and superb goalkeeping from Clara Woltering proved too much for the visitors. 

Thüringer managed to equalise the host’s early 2:0 lead, but from then on Buducnost were the far better team. The only small stain on their performance in the first 30 minutes was their missed scoring opportunities.

Still, the early 2:2 score was soon changed into 6:2 for Buducnost who took a deserved 11:6 lead into half-time.

After the break, Buducnost’s scoring problems were over, but Thüringer’s were not.

Buducnost’s Woltering raised her save percentage to an amazing 70%, while her teammates increased the lead to 16:6 then 19:7 at the other end of the court.

Substitutions toward the end of the match allowed Thüringer to reduce the gap a little compared to the 12 goals that separated the teams in the middle of the second half, but the guests could not come back from such a deficit. 

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / Peter Bruun / cg