Ferencvaros top Group B after impressive winArticle
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GROUP B REVIEW: Hungarian champions never let Podravka Vegeta catch a breath and started their campaign with an impressive performance, while Thüringer and Fleury Loiret fought through to the last seconds

Thrilling opening match ends in a draw

A well-deserved standing ovation accompanied the players as they left the court in Nordhausen, where Thüringer HC and Fleury Loiret Handball shared the points in the opening Women’s EHF Champions League 2015/16 Group B game.

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria started their run with an impressive win against Croatian champion Podravka Vegeta, who were no match for the Hungarian champions.

Thüringer HC vs Fleury Loiret Handball 27:27 (15:15)

Wiedigsburghalle Nordhausen was sold out for the opening game of last season’s EHF Champions League quarter-finalists Thüringer HC, who underwent major changes in the summer but were still the favourites against French debutants Fleury Loiret.

Fleury put on a mature performance and managed to surprise the German team – it was far from obvious that it was the first Women’s EHF Champions League game for the French champions.

It was an even game from the first minute, with the teams exchanging the lead on several occasions.

Goals from newcomers Eliza Buceschi and Svenja Huber (five goals each) kept the game level for the home side, while Gnonsiane Niombla (seven goals) and Estelle Nze Minko (six goals) were the main weapons for Fleury.

The score was level at half-time and although Fleury took the lead in the beginning of the second half and managed to keep it into the last 10 minutes, it was easy to tell that the final moments would be thrilling.

The trio of Niombla, Nze Minko and Spanish star Cabral Barbosa drew the victory closer and closer to the visitors, but 10 minutes from the final whistle Thüringer equalised and the drama began.

Fleury reclaimed the lead but a timeout for the German champion helped them pull in front.

Both goalkeepers pulled off some amazing saves and both teams missed crucial penalties, with ball posession lost three times in the last minute.

The battle of nerves finally ended in a draw when each team failed to score from their golden chances.

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria vs HC Podravka Vegeta 28:16 (13:5)

The Ferencváros faithful followed their team to Dabas, where a 2,000 strong crowd set the atmosphere for the opening game against Podravka Vegeta. The Hungarian sidestarted the game with an impregnable defence and quickly left the young Koprovnice side behind.

It took the Croatian outfit almost twenty minutes to score their second goal and the match was virtually done by halftime when Ferencváros up a 13.5 lead thanks to their massive defending and heroics of Melinda Szikora in goal, who saved 63 per cent of Podravka’s shots.

The protagonist of FTC’s attacks was Luca Szekerczés, who scored seven goals, however, most of them from the penalty line.

However, Podravka managed to edge closer by lining up a more aggressive wall after the break. The Croatian team never got close enough to make Ferencváros nervous but showed readiness to fight. Coach Gábor Elek could even afford to give a piece of Champions League action to 17 year-old goalkeeper Petra Hlogyik and middle back Noémi Háfra, who scored the last goal of the game.

Ferencváros sit on top of Group B thanks to the convincing victory over Podravka Vegeta, who undoubtedly have talent but need more Champions League exposure to make European heavyweights work for their money. The Croatians play host to Thüringer HC while Ferencváros travel to France to face Fleury Loiret.

TEXT: Bence Martha / cg