Metz keep quarter-final hopes alive; Larvik and Györ continue formArticle
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GROUP 2 MATCH REVIEWS: Metz Handball narrowly defeat IK Sävehof in Sweden, Larvik refuse to back down against fighting Viborg, and Györ win comfortably against Baia Mare.

Metz keep quarter-final hopes alive; Larvik and Györ continue form

Metz Handball, Viborg HK and HCM Baia Mare remain locked in a battle for Group 2's remaining quarter-final spots of the Women's EHF Champions League after their main round matches on Sunday.

Metz Handball claimed their first points in the Women's EHF Champions League Main Round with a narrow 23:21 victory away at IK Sävehof.

The result improves the French champions' hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals and means their fate is in their own hands ahead of hosting Györi Audi ETO KC in their final Group 2 match.

Viborg HK and Baia Mare will also have to wait until the last match day to find out whether they qualify for the quarter-finals. Viborg were defeated 23:29 at home against Larvik, while Baia Mare lost to reigning champions Györ 29:23.

Women's EHF Champions League Group 2

IK Sävehof (SWE) vs Metz Handball (FRA) 21:23 (11:16)

Metz Handball may have rediscovered their Champions League form at just the right time.

The French champions' two-goal success against Sävehof in Partillebohallen on Sunday secured their first win of the main round following four successive defeats, boosting their hopes of extending their campaign while eliminating their Swedish opponents.

Metz got off to a great start, forcing Sävehof coach Henrik Signell to use his first time out after just three minutes, with his team already trailing 3:0. 

This failed to curtail the French side's dominance, however, and Metz's lead soon peaked at eight before the Swedish coach's second timeout prompted a run which reduced the gap to five goals at half-time.

The home side pulled back within two goals on several occasions during a low-scoring second half, but could never draw level and bowed out of the competition while Metz march on knowing a win in their final game could take them through to the quarter-finals.

Viborg HK (DEN) vs Larvik (NOR) 23:29 (14:12)

Larvik came to Denmark as newly-crowned Norwegian champions for the 17th time in their history and for the 11th time in succession. On the other hand, Viborg coach Lars Friis-Hansen continues to be troubled by injuries.

Danish international Mette Gravholt was back on the team sheet but still unable to play, while Swedish international Isabelle Gullden is not yet fit to return to the court.

The fact that Larvik were sure to win the group meant head coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad started the match with some of his usual substitutes.

As the first half progressed however, he was forced to send on more of his key players as a tactically clever, fighting Viborg managed to keep up with the Norwegian favourites throughout the first 30 minutes.

Viborg took a two-goal lead with them into half-time, but it only took Larvik six minutes of the second half to turn the game in their favour.

Scoring the first six goals after the break, Larvik pulled ahead 18:14.

Larvik’s defence was much better in the second half than in the first and once the visitors got ahead, they never looked back, cruising to a six-goal win.

“In the first half, we could feel that we did not have anything to play for, but at half-time we agreed that we did not want to lose in Denmark,” Larvik’s Danish goalkeeper Sandra Toft said.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs HCM Baia Mare (ROU) 29:23 (12:10)

As Györ were sure to qualify for the quarter-finals, sitting comfortably at second position in the group, the back-to-back champions had nothing at stake when they took to the court on Sunday.

The situation was completely different for Baia Mare, who are in a battle with Viborg and Metz for the last two quarter-final tickets.

It was obvious the visitors had a lot to fight for. A tactically well-prepared Baia Mare were leading by one or two goals for most of the first half before Györ turned the momentum and finished the first 30 minutes leading by two goals.

In the second half, Györ left no doubt as to who would take the victory. The home team were leading by three goals for large parts of the second 30 minutes – a lead that later increased to five goals and then to six in the end.

Despite the defeat, Baia Mare still have their fate in the own hands. A win at home against Viborg HK next Sunday will send the Romanian champions to the quarter-finals.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / jh / cg