No surprise in Romania as Esbjerg and Baia Mare ease to finalArticle
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GROUP 2 REVIEW: HCM Baia Mare will try to achieve their third consecutive berth in the Women’s EHF Champions League group stage on Sunday against Team Esbjerg

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No surprise in Romania as Esbjerg and Baia Mare ease to final

A packed Lascar Pana hall will cheer for its favourite team once again on Sunday. After Baia Mare disposed easily of BNTU-BelAZ Minsk Region, 31:21 in the semi-final of the Women's EHF Champions League Qualification, the Romanian powerhouse will play in a “do-or-die” game of Group 2 against Team Esbjerg for a place in the European top flight’s group stage. Esbjerg ousted the Turkish champions Ankara Yenimahalle BSK 32:28 in the other semi-final on Saturday.

It will be far from a friendly contest, but the Romanian fans will recall distant memories from two years ago, when Baia Mare eliminated two Danish teams Viborg HK and Team Tvis Holstebro on the way to their maiden group stage berth.

Women's EHF Champions League Qualification Tournaments

Group 2 (Baia Mare, Romania)


Team Esbjerg (DEN) vs Ankara Yenimahalle BSK (TUR) 32:28 (16:12)

What looked to be a landslide victory for Team Esbjerg after the first ten minutes, turned into a skintight battle for earning a berth in Group 2's decider. As Esbjerg powered to a 9:5 lead after only 11 minutes, the Turkish champions looked dejected and had no answers for Estevana Polman and Laura van der Heijden's shots from the nine-meter line.

However, Yeliz Özel's experience, Anita Gace's speed and Marina Tankaskaya's shooting prowess kept Ankara in the game. It was not until the 55th minute as Esbjerg could enjoy their victory, as the Turkish side even threatened to trim the lead to only one goal. But with Laura van der Heijden and Estavana Polman continued their outstanding performance and both Dutch backs netted seven goals apiece for Esbjerg.

Danish side could relax and hold the advantage taken in the first part of the game, winning 32:28.

HCM Baia Mare (ROU) vs BNTU-BelAZ Minsk Region (BLR) 31:21 (15:8)

A bright start from Melinda Geiger, who converted her first four shots, saw HCM Baia Mare take an early lead against BNTU-BelAZ Minsk Region. The hosts were leading 9:5 after only 15 minutes and looked back, finishing the game with a 67% shot efficiency.

At his maiden Women's EHF Champions League game as a first team coach, Aurelian Rosca had little to be concerned about. As he rested his starting players, Baia Mare continued to increase their lead, as BNTU-BelAZ had no answers for the flurry of counterattacks they were exposed to.

Baia Mare's nine-meter line was the highlight of the Romanians' offensive game, as both Melinda Geiger and Lois Abbingh scored six goals. Rosca will hope that his team will continue their winning ways tomorrow, in the group's final, against Team Esbjerg.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / br